Fanwood Council to Consider Chickens-as-Pets Ordinance

By FRED T. ROSSI
Specially Written for The Leader/Times

FANWOOD – The Fanwood Borough Council will again consider enacting an ordinance that would allow a homeowner to keep a limited number of chickens on their property.

At their Tuesday meeting, council members briefly discussed a revised draft ordinance that would allow up to three chickens to be kept on residential properties that are at least 7,500 square feet in size. The council also had discussed the matter at its March 2 meeting.

In crafting the revised ordinance, the council considered comments and input from the board of health and members of the public, according to borough Zoning Officer Ray Sullivan. Similar ordinances enacted in neighboring towns also were examined. Members of the council will now take time to read through and evaluate the ordinance before further action is taken.

In other business, Mayor Colleen Mahr said the council meetings between now and the Tuesday, November 3 election will be used to update the public on voting procedures. She said it is “very, very important” for local governments to inform residents about voting, which will be done primarily via mail-in ballots this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and what is and what is not allowed. Borough Clerk Kathleen Holmes said ballots are expected to soon be mailed to voters. She said ballots must be postmarked by November 3 or hand-delivered to one of the various drop-off points by that date. The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, October 13.

Mayor Mahr and Ms. Holmes both said they were under the impression that voters will be able to track their mail-in ballot online to ensure that their votes are registered and counted but said they will look further to confirm. Borough Attorney Russell Huegel added that, pursuant to an executive order issued by Governor Phil Murphy, the state will count all ballots “until it’s done counting.”

In other business, Ms. Holmes said Fanwood’s response rate to the national census is 82 percent, down from 84 percent 10 years ago. Mayor Mahr called the rate “disappointing,” given that Fanwood’s population has increased in the past decade. There were reports that some non-participating households may be wary of opening their doors to census-takers due to fears about the Covid-19 virus.

The council also introduced a $150,000 bond ordinance that will finance improvements to Forest Road Park. A public hearing will be held Monday, September 21. Two new police officers were sworn in on Tuesday. Ki’Mara Ransom and Robert Jastrzebski joined the Fanwood Police Department after stints with the Plainfield Police Department.

While Tuesday’s council meeting was underway, 15 miles to the west, the Somerset County Freeholder Board formally appointed Mayor Mahr as county administrator starting on January 1. From September 28 until the end of the year, she will serve as deputy administrator and assist the retiring administrator with the transition. In a social media post late Tuesday night, the mayor said she was “beyond excited and humbled” by her appointment.