Birds, cats figure in stormwater regulations


Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — Bird feeders are in. But feeding the pigeons is out.

That was the conclusion of the Borough Council after a lengthy discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting about an ordinance it subsequently adopted prohibiting the feeding of unconfined wildlife — whether it’s at the beach, in a public park or on private property.

The ordinance was one of seven dealing with stormwater management regulations, which the state Department of Environmental Protection has directed

municipalities to adopt in an effort to minimize pollution so as to maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of state waters, protect the public health and enhance recreational use of the waterways. They zero in on drainage from storm sewers and surface runoff.

Councilwoman Maria Fernandez said all municipalities must pass similar ordinances by October 2005. She said Sea Bright must also develop and pass a stormwater management plan by next April 1.

Fernandez said a synopsis of the seven ordinances would be printed in the “Sea Breeze,” the borough’s newsletter, but Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams said they were so extensive that the borough should do a separate mailing on them to all residents. Councilman Andrew Mencinsky suggested that copies also be sent to borough offices in neighboring Rumson and Monmouth Beach.

The ban on feeding wildlife drew the most attention from the audience during public hearings on each of the ordinances. Fernandes, who spearheaded the preparation of the ordinances, said the ban includes waterfowl and pigeons. Clark Craig, a member of the Planning/Zoning Board, asked if the borough was planning to confiscate bird feeders and was told by Borough Attorney Scott Arnette that he didn’t think anyone would mind bird feeders, but technically they were included. Craig then asked about fish in a pond. Arnette said they would be considered domestic animals. Craig finally suggested that somebody fishing could be construed to be feeding the fish, and Arnette said that would be a strain. Fernandes said fishing was specifically excluded.

Councilman William J. Keeler urged the ban on feeding wildlife be limited to public property only, but both Fernandes and Kalaka-Adams were quick to say they didn’t want to do that because of a problem with people feeding pigeons and feral cats on residential properties.

The ordinance finally was passed 4-1 with Keeler voting against it and Councilman William Gelfound absent from the meeting.

On another of the ordinances dealing with the proper disposal of pet solid waste, questions were raised as to the extent of a homeowner’s responsibility for waste not from his or her pet.

“If you feed it, you own it,” Councilwoman Dina Long said.

“And if you own it,” Fernandes added, “you have to license it.”

Another of the ordinances that drew the public’s attention was one setting the requirements for litter control. Gene Mangia, another member of the Planning/Zoning Board, asked who was going to monitor and enforce this ordinance. Fernandes said it would be the police and code enforcement officer.

Other ordinances in the package dealt with prohibiting illicit connections to the municipal storm-sewer system, prohibiting the improper disposal of waste other than stormwater to stormwater sewers, establishing requirements for the proper handling of yard waste and establishing a yard-waste collection and disposal program in the borough. All were passed by unanimous 5-0 votes.

When all was done, Fernandes thanked the audience for its lively input and members of the council thanked Fernandes for her hard work in putting together the ordinances for their consideration.

Keeler had the final word, enthusiastically thanking Fernandes, “because reading through this, it’s boring as hell,” which drew a laugh from everybody in the room.