Howell mulls reviewing, updating local ordinances

By kathy baratta
Staff Writer

By kathy baratta
Staff Writer

HOWELL — The Township Council is moving forward with plans to create a nine-member blue-ribbon panel of residents to review the township’s ordinances and to recommend revisions.

Township Manager Bruce Davis told the governing body on July 14 that Police Chief Ronald T. Carter is recommending the panel should include representatives from the police department.

Carter suggested himself, Capt. Jeffrey Mayfield and possibly Traffic Safety Officer Matthew Bishop, Davis said, noting that their input would be valuable since many of the ordinances are traffic related or require police enforcement.

"Whatever we’re developing, as far as a committee, they should be a part of it because there’s a number of police rules and regulations, not to mention traffic safety," Davis said.

Councilman Joseph M. DiBella said he was concerned with taking three of nine slots on the proposed panel with police appointments. DiBella, the catalyst for an ordinance review panel, spoke of his reasons for wanting it done.

"The thinking of the governing body changes, the landscape of the community changes, the tenor of the public changes," DiBella said. "I think we need to do what people do in business all the time. Sit down and look at your product inventory. Look at how your business operates."

DiBella said the town needed to look at "should things be re-reviewed, maybe they need to be tightened — make sure our needs our being taken care of."

Since taking office seven months ago, DiBella said he has seen too many problems that are "ordinance related."

"It makes sense from time to time to look at them (ordinances)," he said. "Not from the standpoint of an attorney, an engineer or a planner, but the people who pay the bills. The people who live here."

Carter said that since the majority of the township’s ordinances required police enforcement, the police should be involved in the entire process.

DiBella suggested that perhaps the police officers could attend each time the panel meets in an advisory capacity without an official appointment to the panel.

Councilwoman Cynthia Schomaker suggested that a police contingent could review the ordinances and make recommendations to the panel members for areas to review.

Schomaker also said the review should be done in sections, with deadlines for the reviews to be completed.

DiBella said the panel should comprise people from land preservation, planning and zoning — as well as public safety — as long as they are taxpayers who are familiar with these issues.

"We need to set a goal, and the goal is we need a lay person review of the ordinances and laws that make up this town so that we can have a level of comfort that they are consistent with what the people agree we should have in place," DiBella said.

The governing body was expected to make nominations to the panel on Monday.

DiBella offered to act as the council’s liaison to the panel and as chairman of the committee.