Past Newsletters

Updated: Council Business and Other Updates

Updates to the below:

  • We will now be having an Executive Session where the situation with the suspended Township Manager will be touched on.
  • In my haste to get this out earlier, I did zero research on an Autism organization to suggest contributions for. Rather than Autism Speaks, as I mentioned below, some kind residents reached out to me to ask me to instead suggest The Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Please consider supporting them.
  • Thank you to several of you who donated to the Adopt-A-Mountie program below. We raised another $1,000 since this email went out! Please consider a contribution here.

Good afternoon, everyone. I hope that you enjoyed either a holiday or spring break or both. Montclair’s show-stopping trees are in stunning bloom, the tulips are starting to pop up, we’re setting ant traps in our house again, I’m realizing I never lost my winter weight, and the anger-inducing leaf blowers are blaring once more. Ahhh, happy spring!

Tonight we have a Council Meeting at 7:00pm at Town Hall at 205 Claremont Ave. This is a rare off-cycle meeting, which was adopted last year and consistently published since. It can be attended in person, viewed on channel 34 or on our Township YouTube Live Streamhere. The light agenda can be found here.

To manage expectations, we will not be voting on the budget, Lackawanna Plaza, Cannabis licenses, or taking action on the suspended Township Manager tonight. Public comment should begin around 7:20pm after we adopt minutes and read a Proclamation on Autism Acceptance Month into the record.

Here are some of things we’re addressing tonight and some other updates that I wanted to provide.

Updated Minimum Lot Depth Requirements for New Lots

For illustrative purposes only

A Town Council’s primary responsibility is land use and management. If you’re like me and in love with the character of Montclair, it takes real intentionality to protect it. How homes are positioned, set back from the street, distanced from each other, how large or tall they can be, what materials can be used and much more is addressed in our code, as are lot sizes.

One of my concerns in trying to protect what we love about Montclair, is making sure that subdividing of property is kept at bay by ensuring that we have a point of view and standard for how deep a lot must be so that deeper lots aren’t subdivided too easily our out of character with the neighborhood. The result can often be very small, cramped back yards for the new houses in a subdivision, not to mention increased density, residential congestion and decreased open space in residential areas you may think are solidified. The text of this proposed Ordinance can be read here.

Defense and Indemnification Ordinance

Montclair, like other municipalities, has a law department which is charged with representing the Township in multiple contexts: The Township itself (meaning all of you), The Township government, and the Council. Sometimes issues may arise (like the healthcare issue) where there could be a conflict of interest for the law department in representing one or more of those parties. This Ordinance, among other things, would ensure that Council Members would be able to obtain outside counsel and have those costs covered in extremely limited circumstances. Notably, the Law Department would have to navigate seven distinct exceptions to get to yes on reimbursement, in those limited circumstances. Where recent newspaper reporting and social media commentary misses important context, the good news is that all of you can read the simple three page Ordinance here and ask any of us questions either via email, during public comment or in the specific public hearing scheduled for tonight dedicated to this Ordinance.

As mentioned, tonight we’ll issue a Proclamation acknowledging Autism Acceptance Month. We have a very active and wonderful group of people who serve on our Township People with Disabilities Committee, who continue to help us raise awareness on so many important issues.

On a related by separate note, look for information soon regarding “Disability Pride” to be held in town on Saturday, March 20th. I’ll be joining everyone for that the third annual event.

Streetscape Safety & Improvements

Updates to repair the streetscape, pavers and curbs along S. Park and Church St. should commence soon.

A lot of business tonight is dedicated to roadway and safety enhancements. Notably:

  • Making the intersection of Franklin Ave. and Virginia Ave. a multiway stop 
  • Adding parking meters to Gates Ave. between Bloomfield & Union
  • Upgrading a significant stretch of Mt. Hebron Rd.
  • Advancing an update to Montclair Ave. & Watchung Ave., for ADA curb ramps, signage and crosswalk striping
  • Roadway improvements from water main breaks, at Midland & Bloomfield and Greenwood & N. Willow 

Adopt-A-Mountie is Back!

For the second year in a row, I’m teaming up with Aminah Toler and other leaders of Montclair Mutual Aid to raise funds to put together dorm room kits for some Montclair seniors heading off to college in the fall, who may not be able to afford some basic essentials. Like the class of 2022, the class of 2023 suffered an incredible interruption to their high school learning and social experiences and I want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure each young adult is set up for success as they move on to their next phase in their journey. Help us purchase, pack up and send these kids off with everything from towels and sheets to school supplies.

Please consider making a contribution to our efforts.

Other Agenda Items and Quick Updates

  • We are considering an Ordinance to increase our budget appropriations cap from 2.5% to 3.5% growth in part in reaction to inflation
  • We are considering adoption of an Ordinance to update the code around Floodplain Management and Flood Damage Prevention. This Ordinance has been reviewed, approved and frankly, mandated by FEMA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to ensure higher standards.
  • We are voting on the Downtown Business Improvement District Budget
  • We are authorizing contracts to update lights and cameras for police patrol vehicles
  • We are authorizing application for a grant for Montclair to participate in the 2023 Sustainable Jersey PSE&G Energy Efficiency Partnership Program

Township Provided Healthcare

Last year, I wrote about this issue and shared what happened in my case. Some people screwed up and that needs to be addressed. As has become unfortunately necessary with this government, I’ve consulted with external attorneys for guidance and as a result feel very good about my circumstances. I’d encourage anyone with questions to revisit my commentary here. I worry that the reporting on the matter doesn’t reflect important context including the prevalence of elected officials at several levels of government being in the same boat, different interpretations of eligibility by different attorneys general over the years, and the example of the Wildwood case cited today by Montclair Local not being contextualized as the clear outlier and extreme example it represents.

Note: This image is intended to be humorous…

This week I decided to leave the group “Secret Montclair”. Unfortunately it’s hard to tell who are residents or not and I’ve noted fake profiles posting there as well. My concern is interference in our civic discourse by individuals who have no standing. Therefore, I will only share information and engage on my own Facebook feed or on my Instagram going forward. 

But, I know many of you love these emails. So if you know someone in Montclair who would be interested in receiving these updates, please forward this email to them and this is the most comprehensive updates I provide. They can click his button to subscribe. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram below.

Our mailing address is:
41 Watchung Plaza, Suite 318
Montclair, NJ 07042