New office eyed to monitor new developments

Mayor Pucci discusses the start of the Department of Planning and Environmental Protection, which will manage the development of the township and attempt to keep open space preserved.

By: Al Wicklund
   MONROE — The township says it will monitor developers more closely beginning this year.
   Mayor Richard Pucci said Wednesday he planned to discuss creating a new municipal department, the Department of Planning and Environmental Protection, at the Township Council’s New Year’s Day reorganization meeting, held Thursday, after The Cranbury Press’ deadline.
   Mayor Pucci said protecting the environment in Monroe, a large and still-growing community, is a massive job.
   "This department will be the long-term protector of the environment. It will be our watchdog," he said,
   The mayor said the department, will have Robert Tucker, currently the township’s planning and zoning administrator, as director,
   Joe Montanti, a Planning Board member and longtime advocate for open space, will serve as the department’s environmental protection manager, a full-time monitor of construction in the township.
   Mayor Pucci said the many aspects of planning and construction and the continuing maintenance of the environment — and the follow-through monitoring — will be merged into the new department. He said an ordinance to accomplish this will be introduced at the Township Council business meeting 8 p.m. Tuesday at Township Hall.
   He said Mr. Montanti, currently working in management for computer consulting companies, will join the new department when it is created by ordinance in February.
   Mr. Montanti has been a member of the Planning Board since 1992 and a member of the Environmental Commission since 1990.
   Mr. Montanti said Wednesday he was heavily involved in the late 1980s with the Concerned Citizens of Monroe, a group of citizens who opposed the development of some 850 acres of open land known as the Bank of China property. The land has since been purchased by the township and Middlesex County and has become part of Thompson Park.
   Mr. Montanti grew up in Spotswood and has been a township resident since 1986.
   Township Administrator Wayne Hamilton said Mr. Montanti will receive an annual salary of $62,500, while Mr. Tucker, who receives $74,209 for his planning and zoning duties, will get an added $10,000 as director of the department.
   Mr. Tucker’s department will review all Master Plan and zoning ordinance revisions, all site and building plans and proposed projects for compliance with land-use regulations.
   The department also will contain the Division of Environmental Protection, which will review and inspect approved development applications to ensure compliance with environmental conditions and to consult with the township planner and engineer on environmental compliance matters.