Clark Council Talks Chicken Ordinance, Matt Kent, 'Today in America' Filming
Plus, Ivy Street resident speaks out about a "crappy" situation.
At Monday night's Clark Council meeting, councilmembers discussed three drafted ordinances to be finalized and introduced at council's next meeting on June 18. Mayor Sal Bonaccorso also addressed the spray-painted Matt Kent memorial inside the Clark Reservoir.
Fair or fowl: The first drafted ordinance concerned the raising of chickens and other farm animals. Council had previously discussed chickens at their March 5 meeting, when members directed Township Attorney Joseph Triarsi to draft an ordinance prohibiting chickens and other farm animals.
However, after further discussions, councilmembers settled on an ordinance that will allow residents to raise chickens (and other domestic fowl) but not other farm animals. The ordinance also prohibits the raising of any farm animals for commercial or retail purposes. If adopted, those residents raising chickens will not be allowed to sell their eggs (or their chickens), but can raise chickens for their personal use. The ordinance stipulates that all domestic fowl must be kept in a properly constructed coop. In our poll after council's first discussion regarding chickens, 70 percent of voters felt that chickens should be allowed in Clark.
Mayor addresses Kent memorial: Mayor Sal Bonaccorso spoke about the spray-painted Matt Kent memorial that appeared inside the Clark Reservoir on the Middlesex Water Company's property, reaffirming the comments he made to Patch at the end of last week. The large painting which reads "RIP Matt Kent" appeared on Wednesday, about a week after the death of Kent, 22, a 2007 Arthur L. Johnson graduate. Friends say Kent died following a prescription pill overdose.
"As far as graffiti goes, it was pretty nice looking the way they did it, but I want to remind everyone that that was private property owned by the Middlesex Water Company," said Bonaccorso. "It would be no different than if you had a garage and somebody passed away and they painted a memorial on your garage. We heard from Middlesex Water Company right after it happened that they were going to paint over it. I want to say on the record that I understand how people feel when they lose someone near and dear to them, and I have lost people near and dear to me as a young adult here in Clark, but it still doesn’t give anybody the right to deface someone else’s property and that’s basically what it was. Unfortunately, the young man is not with us. His friends were looking to outreach. Then again, ladies and gentlemen, every time someone passes in Clark are we going to have a right to paint a memorial somewhere? ... If you want to have a memorial, keep it within your own premises or your own wall at home or on a canvas the way art is distributed. ... We're all sensitive to him and what happened but on the other hand it's still private property. At this point it wasn't my decision, it was the Middlesex Water Company's decision – but if it were done a public building and would have been my decision, my decision would have been exactly the same. To the well-intended friends – and I'm going to say they were well-intended, I don't think they were trying to do anything malicious – they have to understand that there are laws prohibiting that and they could be subject to arrest or summons for defacing someone’s property."
Clark on "Today in America": In the public portion of the meeting, Clark resident Doug Ritter asked when filming would begin for "Today in America." Mayor Bonaccorso announced in March that the town signed on to be part of Terry Bradshaw's "Today in America" in an infomercial on "America's Best Places to Live, Work and Play." Clark will pay $19,800 in fees to produce and air the segment. Business Administrator John Laezza replied that filming would take place on July 10 and that the segment would be broadcast in September.
Ivy Street resident dealing with "crappy" situation: Ivy Street resident Gerry Caprario spoke during the public portion of the meeting to urge council to consider adding restrictions on bird feeding to the chicken ordinance. Caprario said his neighbor has so many large feeders that his property is covered in bird droppings. He also stated that his 20-month-old son has a nut allergy and the bird seed that gets carried over to his property by the birds could become a severe hazard as it may contain nuts. Borough Attorney Joseph Triarsi said that the chicken ordinance does not in any way cover bird feeding and directed Caprario to the township Health Officer Nancy Raymond, saying the health officer should have sufficient legislation in her balliwick to protect him if there is a health issue posed by this situation. Triarsi said he would speak to Raymond this week on Caprario's behalf.
Boy Scouts participate: Three members of the Clark Boy Scout Troop 145 shadowed council members at the meeting to work on earning their citizenship badge. Councilman Richard Kazanowski explained the meeting process and the different roles of those on the dais to scouts Ed Lasinski (seventh grader at Kumpf), Matt Janowski (seventh grader at Kumpf) and Nigel Sequeira (sophomore at ALJ).
Clothing donation bins: Council also discussed an ordinance to restrict clothing donation bins. The drafted ordinance stipulates that clothing donation bins must be painted earth tone colors and that no property may have more than two bins. These changes will be effective starting in January when property owners must renew their permits for clothing donation bins.
Grease trap maintenance: Councilmembers continued their May 7 discussion of a grease trap maintenance ordinance. Grease traps are connected to the plumbing of commercial kitchens and prevent grease and food particles from entering the sewer system. Though the traps collect the grease, the grease must also be properly disposed of. According to Business Administrator John Laezza, the Department of Public Works logs significant overtime fixing clogged sewers – many of which, they believe, are clogged because restaurants are not properly disposing of the grease they produce. The drafted ordinance would govern the maintenance and inspection of the traps, require restaurant owners to reimburse the township for costs incurred for clearing the system, and impose fines for repeat offenders.
Mayor asks graduates to be safe: With graduation upon us, Mayor Bonaccorso also gave a reminder that underage drinking parties are illegal and police will be on the lookout for them. The mayor also asked that parents "lead the way" in educating their children about drinking and driving.