Lambertville, N.J. Mayor Julia Fahl updated residents on the Elizabethtown Gas Company’s ongoing project to upgrade the natural gas infrastructure on sections of Delevan, George, North Union, and Jefferson streets at the city council meeting March 21.
Mayor Fahl apologized for the inconvenient interruptions caused by the work, noting that the efforts should be complete in a few weeks.
Despite initial wariness about the project from some town residents, who associated the aims of this effort with those of the highly controversial PennEast Pipeline, opposition seems to have subsided as Fahl, who officially began her term as mayor in January, and other council members have repeatedly stated that upgraded infrastructure will improve the safety of existing gas lines.
On the City of Lambertville Facebook page, residents were offered the opportunity, in February, to “opt in” to the upgrades.
Resident Nancy Anderson expressed concern about the news, posted on Facebook, that the company would also be replacing gas meters for several homes: Anderson worries that the new meters may be “smart meters” whose radiation emissions are believed by some environmental health organizations, like the Environmental Health Trust, to cause a host of medical ailments, from dizziness to cancer.
While the council was unaware of whether or not the new meters would be smart meters, Fahl assured Anderson that the council would research and get back to her, noting that the meter replacement will be beneficial to residents, as old meters will be removed from basements and new ones will be fixed to outside structures.
Councilwoman Julia Taylor added that she will soon lead the charge on a survey to residents in other areas of town still without gas line access to determine interest levels in further upgrades.
A more widespread cause for discontent in the town was the institution of new, limited hours and enforcement of drop-off restrictions recently adopted by the Lambertville Recycling Center, referred to by council as the “Convenience Center.”
The decision was made in February to discontinue several recycling services, including those for electronic devices, due both to complaints from the Department of Health and to the increasing cost of such operations. Brush and leaf drop-off are still permitted, but the council has received several complaints from residents who feel that the newly truncated weekend hours will prevent them from adequately maintaining the appearance of their properties.
Fahl reported that she and City Clerk Cynthia Ege have discussed a potential solution of allowing residents to schedule bulk drop-offs of large amounts of leaf and brush during Public Works hours (7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday - Friday), adding that they may require residents to obtain a “bulk drop-off permit.”
The council discussed a few other possibilities to ease the burden of the limited weekend hours, and Mayor Fahl stated that the issue would be discussed further at the next public working session on April 2.
Lambertville residents will still be able to utilize the services of the Hunterdon County Transfer Station and Recycling Depot, located in Annandale.
Among the council’s new business items were several ordinances resulting in approved motions to: officially create the town’s new business administrator position; modify salary ranges for several municipal employee positions; and create a new development review committee, a joint venture of the planning board and the zoning board intended to create a more thorough review process for land use applications.
A public hearing to discuss the salary range for the business administrator position will be held on April 9. The city has already hired The Canning Group to assist in the recruitment process.