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Scotch Plains Council Tables Vote On Zoning Amendment

by Jeanne Whitney, 97-03-13

The Scotch Plains Council decided Tuesday to table for two weeks a final vote on a zoning code amendment defining townhouses and building heights while attorneys consider the changes in light of the Council On Affordable Housing (COAH) regulations. Councilwoman Joan Papen said the Planning Board asked for the additional time to review the amendment.

Officials said certain township properties will be affected by the changes if developers seek to build multiple-family housing that includes 20 percent low-to-moderate income units. Neighboring residents of such properties are said to object to the amendment. The township council did, however, unanimously adopt on Tuesday a related affordable housing code change from last year that corrected a "clerical error."

In other action, the council appropriated $37,500 from last year’s Community Development Fund for playground equipment in Farley Park. The improvements will meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Township Municipal Manager Thomas E. Atkins said federal grants for these types of projects have dried up due to changes in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements.

In moving ahead with the $1.7 million capital improvement project approved last year to upgrade the township sewerage system on the south side, the council authorized the Mayor and clerk to contract with Killam Associates for the design of the pumping stations and sanitary sewers. Fees for the professional services and preliminary plans could run about 10 percent of the total cost, officials said. The south side system connects with the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority. Officials have said the work on the pumping stations will take about two years to complete.

On a separate matter, the council agreed to the purchase of two 1997 Chevrolet model pickup trucks through state contracts for the township Departments of Public Works and Parks and Recreation. The township will also lease and buy five new Ford model police cars under a two-year state contract. The cars are purchased at the end of a one-year lease, officials added, while Mrs. Papen called the plan "cost effective."

A bid to buy chemicals and related supplies for the Scotch Hills golf club was rejected by the council without explanation. New bids will be accepted Monday, March 24, officials said.

The council okayed a special use permit for Fagioli Restaurant on Park Avenue for sidewalk dining. Owner Giovanni Zini agreed to limit seating to eight.

Councilman William F. McClintock, Jr., said the Suburban Municipal Joint Insurance Fund (JIF) -- of which Scotch Plains is a member -- had the best safety record of any JIF in the state.

A figure-eight, one-mile loop through the township was approved by the council for the Sunday, May 18, Freddie Spencer Memorial Bicycle Race. Mr. Spencer, a township resident who was a world class bicyclist in the 1920s and 1930s, is Councilwoman Papen’s father.

"In those days, you wore a special glove on your hand and stopped the bike by grabbing the wheel," Mrs. Papen explained. The 10-, 20-, 25- and 40-mile fundraiser races end at the Municipal Building.

In other business, the council recognized both the Scotch Plains Volunteer Rescue Squad for 60 years of service and the Music Department at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, which has been in existence for more than 50 years.

The council noted that the Rescue Squad has answered over 60,000 calls for help over the years, with some volunteers having served for 40 and 47 years. Mr. McClintock thanked the squad for "outstanding service to the community."

Vincent Turturiello, who heads the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Music Department, credited the community with "realizing the importance of the arts." He said 40 percent of the 1,070 students at the high school are involved in the music program, which includes three concert bands, a marching band, two jazz bands, four choirs, a barbershop quartet and a percussion ensemble. The council noted the "superior" ratings the music groups often garner at competitions.

The council named March 11 as Sister Percylee Hart Day after the Principal of Union Catholic High School received this year’s Catholic Secondary Education Award from the National Catholic Educational Association.

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