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Troopers add radar surveillance in Bedminster


State troopers are now running radar to help Bedminster Township police cope with speeding motorists.

State law prevents its municipalities from running their own radar, leaving them to instead to rely on less desirable instrumentation.

The announcement was made by Police Chief Mark Ofner during his monthly report at the May 8 public board of supervisors meeting.

Ofner said the township will still run its own police officer speed detail, which was recently bolstered by the addition of new officers, and with continued assistance from electronic speed trailers and speed signs. That effort will now be enhanced with troopers running radar, with assistance from a list of resident complaints.

Violation citations will still be issued by the township officers, with the troopers now making the court appearances.

Township Manager Rich Schilling noted that Pennsylvania is now the last state in the union to deny municipal radar. He said the supporting argument has been that towns would abuse the privilege as a fund raising technique, a contention that he said is not supported by a typical $196 citation leaving the township with only about $12 income, after expenses.

“The issue is public safety, not money,” he said.

During his own report, Schilling said that competitive bidding had paid off well for the township’s annual paving and oil-and-chip program, with the latter designed to assure that all township roads will receive paving preservation assistance every five years. This year’s paving will be for Rolling Hill, Mink, Sweetbriar, and Old Easton roads.

A qualified bid of $140,000 was chosen against a second bid of $207,000 for the oil and chip program, and $214,000 was accepted for paving, against two other bids that were over $280,000. The total for the two programs came in at $30,000 less than projected.

Earlier in the May 8 meeting, supervisors finalized their addition to the township zoning ordinance that provides property owners already established with a primary use with new opportunity for an Accessory Short Term Rental Use, which is commonly known as “Air BnB” use.

Supervisor Glenn Wismer described it as providing property owners with an opportunity for “extra income, if within reason, including owners having to be present” during rentals.

Schilling noted the measure as pro-active, giving the township some control over the accessory use, which might otherwise be decided by a judge in the event of the township challenging residents’ own versions of the use.

“The state zoning law requires us to accommodate various kinds of uses,” Schilling noted. “This allows for doing it on our terms.”

In addition to the owner having to be present, key provisions of the zoning ordinance amendment include limiting the number of consecutive rental nights and the annual total. Permits are to be required, subject to revocation for violations.

Yearly inspections are conceived as an alternative to hotel-type health code and other requirements, while township building and construction codes still apply.