Over the objections of citizens who urged them not to restrict their 1st Amendment Rights and to avoid expensive litigation, the Marlboro Township Council unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibits the placement of temporary political signs on public property and rights of way, limits the time before and after an election that signs may appear on private property and rights of way adjacent to private property, and regulates the size of signs and the distance they may appear from each other on private property.
At the request of Councilman Frank LaRocca, the ordinance was amended to eliminate the imposition of a 90 day jail sentence for violating the ordinance. Candidates, Committee Chairmen, Campaign Treasurers and private property owners now face fines ranging from $100 to $1250 if signs appear more than 45 days before an election, 7 days after an election or if signs promoting the same candidate are posted within 50 feet of each other on the same property. The total square footage of all political signs on any one tax lot must not exceed 16 square feet.
Matthew Rasmussen, an attorney representing the Marlboro Republican Committee told the council during the public hearing prior to the adoption of the ordinance that it contained numerous “constitutional infirmities, some of them fatal” and urged the governing body to defeat the ordinance in order to avoid expensive litigation that they would certainly lose.
A proposed Marlboro temporary sign ordinance on the agenda for adoption by the Township Council on Thursday evening July 17 has Marlboro Republicans contemplating a federal court challenge should the all Democratic Council enact the measure.
Mayor Jon Hornik, named the best mayor in New Jersey in an unscientific PolitickerNJ poll earlier this month after the Township’s resident email list was used to rally online votes, told MMM that political signs create clutter and traffic safety issues in the Township and that his administration has been working on an solution that protects free speech rights while improving public safety since 2008. “It’s not just local races, but every level…county, state, and federal. Marlboro gets littered with campaign signs every fall,” Hornik said, “It is a safety issue that has gotten worse since the Board of Education elections were moved to November. The council has been working hard to make sure the safety and clutter issues are addressed while at the same time protecting free speech rights. I will support what they come up with.”
The proposed ordinance, which can be found here, would prohibit temporary political signs on Township property and public rights of way, with the exception of rights of way adjacent to private property (that strip of land between sidewalks and curbs), regulate the size of signs to 16 square feet, and allow signs to be placed on private property only 45 days prior to an election or event and seven days after an election. Candidates, Committee Chairmen, Campaign Treasurers and private property owners with signs on rights of way adjacent to their property would be subject to fines ranging from$100 to $1250 and/or 90 days in jail for violations.
Citing the shortage of federal and state funds available to assist Superstorm Sandy impacted homeowners in rebuilding their homes, the Middletown Township Committtee this week joined Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon in calling on the state legislature and Governor Chris Christie to put the more than $100 million in Affordable Housing Funds that are sitting dormant to work.
With a unanimous 5-0 vote, the committee passed a resolution on Monday, April 21, calling for legislation that would reinstate Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) “for the limited purpose of getting victims of Superstorm Sandy back in their homes during this time of need.”
RCAs were created in the original 1985 Fair Housing Act whereby towns with funds raised from developer fees or through bonding could transfer up to half of those funds to another community for the purpose of building affordable housing as required by the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Mt. Laurel decision.
Forgotten among the latest round of finger-pointing and investigations regarding the use of Superstorm Sandy funds are displaced low and moderate-income homeowners and renters who need help. This immediate and pressing need, combined with resources available from communities like Marlboro Township, in the form of affordable housing trust funds, present a unique opportunity for regional cooperation. Now all we need is some action in Trenton.
The funds, collected from developer fees, now totaling at least $180 million state-wide (and which the State has been trying to take for its own budget problems), are to be used to meet the need for affordable housing under the Supreme Court’s Mt. Laurel rulings. Those cases decreed that every town has an obligation to provide for its region’s need for affordable housing. We have long argued that the doctrine should be meaningfully applied – let’s build the housing where the need is the greatest.
Yet to this day the planners in Trenton wrangle over rules to determine how towns must address their affordable housing, going on 15 years now, when it should be painfully obvious that the need for our community (and our region) is staring us in the face. Current state laws prohibit Marlboro from helping those communities who are in desperate need for housing assistance after Sandy. There is no mechanism for Marlboro to spend its trust funds for the benefit of, for example, Union Beach or the Highlands, because there are no rules that allow us to do so. We can’t fulfill a fundamental tenet of Mt. Laurel, and help our neighbors because the authority to do so isn’t there. And why not?
Just as we predicted at the start of the year, Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik has started his tour of Democratic clubs and committees around the state, not running for governor.
The Star Ledger’sAuditor reports that Hornik spoke to the Warren County Democratic Committee last week, has met with several Democratic County Chairs and plans many other such meetings, not running for governor.
Michael Karwan, the missing autistic teenage who was located in Cleveland, Ohio last night, has been reunited with his parents, according to a statement by Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Grammiccioni.
Grammiccioni said that Karwan, 19, was reported missing from his parents’ home on Tuesday, Nov. 19, sparking an intensive search of the region that spread into upstate New York. Over the next week, Karwan traveled by bus from Monmouth County to Manhattan and from New York via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before arriving in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon his arrival in Cleveland on Saturday, Karwan attempted to check-in to an overcrowded men’s shelter run by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries (LMM), but was referred to the Volunteers of America (VoA) shelter.
Marlboro Police are searching for an autistic man who has been missing since late Tuesday night. Michael Karwan, described as a high-functioning autistic 19-year-old, left has house after an argument with his parents, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans…
The New Jersey Local Finance Board (LFB), a part of the Department of Community Affairs found fault in the Marlboro Ethic Board’s (MTEB) investigation into conflict of interest charges file against Councilwoman Randi Marder. LBF remanded the matter back to MTEB for “additional investigation and application of the appropriate legal standard.”
“I love Chris Christie!’ Mazzola exclaimed when asked what she thought about the Governor. But she stopped short of endorsing the New Jersey head of her former party. “Ask me in the fall when its time to make a decision.”
Mazzola was elected to the Marlboro Township Committee as a Republican in 2009. She announced earlier this month that she will run for reelection as a Democrat on Hornik’s team.