Letters to the Editor, Jan. 29, 2004

Brandon Farms couple seeks neighbors’ opinions
To the editor:
   
We are writing to express our feelings about the lackluster job of snow/ice removal provided to the condominium units at Lansdowne Court by Wentworth Property Management in control of providing these services for the Brandon Farms Property Owners Association (BFPOA) and the Brandon Farms Condominium Association.
   My next door neighbor, an octogenarian, complained about the ice rink that comprised our sidewalks and parking lot after a recent snowfall. The response she got from the Wentworth-run BFCOA office was to have a 50-pound sack of rock salt left on her doorstep. My lovely neighbor would be ill advised to try and lift a 10-pound sack of salt, let alone a 50-pound one. She certainly should not be outside attempting to salt the solid ice sidewalks herself.
   We called to complain after this and got a matching sack of 50 pounds of rock salt for our front stoop. We did salt some of the walk and parking lot, but feel this is very poor precedent. Wentworth Property Management is supposed to be working with the BFCOA and BFPOA to provide these type services at a reasonable cost. We feel that in spite of our fees radically rising, the level of service we see in our community has deteriorated in equal measure.
   A friend of ours in Florida told us about a community like ours where the residents went to court to be emancipated from an organization much like Wentworth and are now much happier paying for the services themselves through their own COA. It seems to me we are headed in the right direction in this community. We are getting some wonderful leadership and a real sense of solidarity in this community. We should expect more than what we are getting and we recommend that any other community members who are unhappy voice their concern also.
   Together we can make this a better and more affordable community to live in. We certainly don’t mind salting ourselves, but shouldn’t we all get a cut in the fees for performing these maintenance services ourselves? We would love to hear how other residents feel in the future.
Lisa and John Forrester, Brandon Farms
Seeking information about Sears homes
To the editor:
   
Do you or anyone you know live in a coveted Sears home?
   Only 5,000 of the 100,000 build are fully identified. There were over 450 styles and custom variations that were shipped all over the U.S. between 1908 and 1940.
   At first it was plans, then by 1914 all-inclusive kits including plans, precut timber, paint (27 gallons), windows, fixtures, 750 pounds of nails, etc. The shipment arrived in one or two railroad boxcars. The homes ranged from small cottages, bungalows and capes to large colonials, and four-square models. To help meet the demand in the East and Middle Atlantic, a 40-acre lumber mill was opened in Port Newark.
   I am with Weidel Realtors in Hopewell and am studying for my certification in historic preservation at Drew University. My current class is vernacular architecture and I am doing a report on the Sears house kits and would love some local information.
   Maybe a friend or relative remembers the experience of these homes coming to town and would share their story with me. If you have any information or can just identify a local Sears home, please call me at (609) 466-0823 or e-mail me at Searshomes@wittlinger.com.
Marilyn Wittlinger, Hopewell Township
Message to township residents, homeowners
To the editor and Hopewell Township homeowners:
   
This is about Ordinance No. BH 2003-1 — "An ordinance concerning testing and reporting requirements for public and private wells and septic systems and amending Chapter XVI, "health" of the general ordinance of the Township of Hopewell (1978)."
   The purpose of this ordinance is to protect and educate the buyers, sellers or occupants of properties within Hopewell Township whenever there is a transfer of property, change in use and or change in tenancy.
   The ordinance will provide the governing authority with current data and information on drinking water quality and the onsite sewage disposal systems so that decisions can be made regards to water quality and sewer.
   This will be accomplished by establishing a procedure for the submittal of onsite septic system inspection reports and well water quality laboratory reports at the time of transfer, changes in or tenancy. A Letter of Review will be issued upon receipt of the reports to be used by the parties involved in the transfer. The ordinance procedures will utilize existing state and federal standards and/or recommendations for water quality and guidelines for septic system inspections. When none are available, the Board of Health and its authorized representative will establish minimum standards or procedures.
   Under the recently enacted Private Well Testing Act, N.J.A.C. 7:10, well water samples are required at the time of transfer and landlords will be required to test well water every five years starting in February 2004. This information is provided to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Only failing tests results are sent to the local health agency, and this information must be maintained as confidential.
   Under this proposed ordinance, the parties involved and prior to the transfer will submit a complete laboratory analysis based on the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Private Well Testing Act from onsite water supplies. It will be necessary to record the test results with the Hopewell Township Health Department noting that all parameters tested are in compliance or if not in compliance with State water quality standards that they will be corrected as a condition of the sales/rental contract. The well water results will give the Health Department a growing database to determine where there are areas in the Township in which certain contaminants might be widespread, and thus to help with remediation and preventative efforts.
   The ordinance also requires the submittal by an independent septic system inspector whenever there is a change of ownership, use or tenancy of property on which there is an onsite septic system. The goal is to eliminate the variability of septic system testing methods and results and to protect sellers from designations that their septic systems are malfunctioning by the companies using improper, inconsistent or undefined methods. It is also the intent of the ordinance to protect buyers from having inadequate testing of septic systems by inspectors. This ordinance will give inspectors, homeowners, and buyers a minimum, uniform set of standards for evaluating septic systems, which will be consistent from property to property, and from inspector to inspector.
   Reporting the test result from well water tests and septic system inspections according to the standards of this ordinance is mandatory. In both cases, remediation will be the responsibility of the buyers and sellers as negotiated. If a new well or septic system is needed, they must comply with existing laws and ordinance.
Douglas E. Fine, Principal Engineer, New Jersey Septic Management Group