Maltz wishes Millstone well as he leaves office

Historian says
contentious power struggles date back to the 1840s

By alison granito
Staff Writer

Maltz wishes Millstone
well as he leaves office
Historian says
contentious power struggles date back to the 1840s
By alison granito
Staff Writer

According to outgoing Mayor Evan Maltz, a recent presentation given by the township historical society confirmed his suspicions that politics in Millstone Township was never smooth sailing.

"I guess some things never change," he said in a telephone interview last week. "Everyone gets so emotional because everyone really cares about the same thing. We all want the best for Millstone."

According to Doreen Polhemus, township historian, the 19th-century feud centered around two Clarksburg residents, David Allen and Charles Bowman. Both Allen and Bowman were influential landowners and businessmen, who each also served the community in different official capacities.

Polhemus said that Bowman and Allen essentially wanted the best for the community — both wanted to donate land on which to build a new church — but waged an ongoing battle over which one of them would get to do it.

Although this particular example stands out, Polhemus also said that "further back things seemed always to be a little strained as well."

"The names might change, but the flavor never really does. Politics has always been a struggle here," she added.

Despite the more recent chapters in Millstone’s contentious political history, Maltz said that many important accomplishments have taken place in the past few years. The Township Committee has made some important strides in recent years, particularly in the areas of open space preservation, he said.

According to Maltz, Millstone has preserved the most open space in the township’s history in the past three years, through the purchase of development rights from farmers — which was one of his initial goals.

"I can only hope that will continue," he said.

Maltz said he was also proud of having been a part of a committee that kept taxes stable on the municipal level. He noted that the tax rate has remained relatively flat over the past three years.

Maltz said of all the things he is proud of that he was able to contribute to as a committeeman, the committee’s recent decision to provide the school district with up to $6 million in aid to purchase land on which to build a new middle school was particularly important to him because issues surrounding the schools have always been close to his heart.

"It seems as though the committee has come to a consensus on this," he said.

Maltz also commended the members of the Planning Board and the township’s professionals for their work on the recently reviewed master plan.

"In my opinion, that master plan is the best in the state of New Jersey, bar none," he said.

In recent months, the Planning Board has approved the master plan and a master plan re-examination report and sent them on to the Township Committee for review. Officials have said that the committee expects to take up discussions on the plan in the first few months of the year.

"What I would like to see the Township Committee do is pass ordinances in support of that plan," Maltz said, noting that the new master plan contains many important measures that will help to "slow growth in Millstone Township."

Some changes recommended in the plan, including increasing the minimum lot size on which a residence can be built to between 6 and 10 acres, have met with sharp resistance from large landowners, including many of the township’s farmers.

Maltz said that slowing down development is a critical issue for Millstone at present and will remain critical into the future. Slowing down growth will reduce the number of children in the schools and lessen the impact on services and the environment, he said.

As for the political climate in the township, Maltz said he hopes in the future that people will agree to disagree.

In June, Maltz, who is a Republican, lost a contentious primary race for the GOP bid to run in the general election to Roger Staib and Nancy Grbelja. Staib and Grbelja lost November’s general election to incumbent Democratic Committeeman William Nurko and running mate Chester Halka.

Nurko, Halka and veteran Democratic Committeeman Charles Abate are slated to assume control of the committee at today’s reorganization meeting.

Maltz said that he believes that the "Republican Party in Millstone Township needs to be overhauled."

"The Republican Party in Millstone Township has a tendency to eat their young," he said. "Somebody has to get a hold of it and sit down and straighten it out."

On the other side of the political fence, Nurko had praise for Maltz’s leadership over the past few years.

"I was very appreciative of the job he did. I thought that by and large, he handled most situations well," Nurko said last week.

In addition to a sometimes contentious relationship with others in his own political party and some members of the governing body, Maltz also had a contentious relationship with the media over the course of his term.

Maltz said that although he felt erroneous information was sometimes being made public, particularly in letters to the editor, he chose to focus on the township’s business instead of writing responses.

"I chose to simply do my job as mayor," he said, adding that sometimes township business would command his attention up to 40-50 hours per week.

Maltz said that, although the township may have a politically charged atmosphere, many talented people who are passionate about making Millstone a better place to live continue to work on behalf of the community.

Maltz said that, although he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, he plans to stay involved as a resident now that his term of service on the committee has come to an end.

In parting, Maltz urged residents who are curious about how the township works to attend meetings and participate in local government.

"More people need to get involved and come out and see what is really going in Millstone," he said.