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Bedminster Township considers nuisance ordinance


With two new ordinances already in place that regulate private property use, carefully considered in light of its deeply held devotion to the rights of property owners to use and enjoy what is theirs, Bedminster Township is now embarking on considering a third one – a nuisance ordinance.

Township supervisors directed their solicitor to start that process at their Dec. 11 public board meeting, following a half-hour discussion with a dozen residents who voiced deep concern and frustration with a 10-year-old problem of disturbance from a neighbor they strongly felt violated their own property rights.

They said the problems of noise, odor, junk, and other disturbances have persisted despite the intervention of township staff, township police, district court, county court, and the county board of health. In response, officials noted the limitations on their corrective action per the limitations within a variety of regulations and procedures that were presently in place.

While the meeting agenda included approval for the township’s latest remediation of the junk part of the problem, supervisors agreed to also start the process for a new nuisance ordinance, as a new tool for corrective action. Recently, they completed lengthy processes for new ordinances that regulate property owners’ rights to offer short-term rentals, and to establish accessory uses of their properties for “agritourism,” such as special events that could easily impact neighbors, and also for use of their properties as wineries and distilleries.

Also at the Dec. 11 meeting, supervisors approved the appointment of Ken Herstine to the position of public works laborer, an opening created by the departure of long-time employee Jamie Heacock, who is leaving to become a farmer. Jeffrey Heacock remains as public works director.

In addition, they authorized Township Manager Rich Schilling to accept a quote for digitization of township files. The $27,000 is to cover 231 boxes, including 416,000 images and 6,930 records. Phone and email privacy is to be protected, and requests for records, such as those from prospective property buyers, are expected to be much more easily handled.

The budget for 2020, which was approved for advertising, including website posting, at the supervisors’ Nov. 13 meeting, was formally adopted.

The budget keeps taxes at 4 mills for the general fund, 2.5 mills for the open space fund, and 1 mill for the fire protection fund. After the meeting, Schilling said that new tax revenue from the new Weis Supermarket at Routes 113 and 313 was expected in 2020, but wasn’t budgeted because the property reassessment was not yet in hand.