West Milford to enter ‘digital age’

West Milford. Residents will soon be able to submit various type of applications to township deparmtents over the Internet if several recently introduced ordinances are passed.

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| 08 Nov 2022 | 11:08

People who have been frustrated and even angry at the time it sometimes takes to get responses when they submit various types of applications to West Milford Departments, will soon see big changes as the township enters the “Digital Age”, Mayor Michele Dale said at the Nov. 2 council meeting.

She explained that the larger than usual number of ordinances introduced that evening, when adopted after public hearings on each of them Dec. 7, will clear up a lot of problems caused by older, outdated municipal codes. She said there are a lot of grey areas and questions raised by some of the unclear wording in the current documents.

Dale stated that the township will soon be approaching a time where software will enable departments involved with an application to communicate with the applicant and other offices for conversation in connection with the application. As a result, action can come much sooner. Because of changes being made, people making an application can read the law’s requirements, understand what they need to do, take required steps, and receive the answers they seek in a much shorter time period, she said. The governing body worked hard to clarify some things in the existing codes. Dale said the undertaking was a great effort that was long overdue.

To avoid confusion or problems Councilman Dave Marston wants the public to be aware of the updated information that will be in place, once the changes are approved. The new ordinances with the proposed changes are published in full under the Nov. 2 meeting agenda items. Go to westmilford.org to find this information.

After the software is installed and operating, applicants will be able to learn the system and have a much easier time in communicating with the departments. Department people will be able to get immediate feedback from each other and when their communication is finalized the applicant can receive information through an e-mail about what has transpired.

Attorney Robert Moshman, a former Mayor of West Milford, was in the audience and addressed Dale and the council. He said he was “very impressed” with the work the council was doing. He recalled 36 years ago when the council spent 100 hours deliberating before decisions could be made about rules for people who wanted to have horses on their property and responding to a request for someone to keep a potbellied pig as a pet. He thanked all the governing board members for their work.

Brief details of the ordinance amendment proposals follow. For more information go to the township website at westmilford.org.
Ordinance 2022-047: This document addresses Emergency Stand-by Generators. It involves siting and replacement requirements for all generators. If the generator is larger than 25 KW standard accessory structure standards will apply in the future.
Ordinance 2022-049: A new Chapter 96 to be entitled “Business Insurance Registration” is proposed. Senate Bill 1368, signed into law in August by Gov. Murphy mandates that business owners, rental unit owners and certain multi-family homeowners maintain liability insurance for negligent acts and omissions in amounts set by state law. The law requires such businesses, rental units and certain multi-family homeowners to annually register a Certificate of Insurance with the municipality in which the business, rental unit, or multi-family home is located. West Milford and all the other state municipalities are authorized to, by ordinance, establish a reasonable administrative fee for administration of the registration program, and to enforce penalties for failure to comply with the registration requirements.
Ordinance 22-50: This ordinance adds a new section addressing “Outdoor Wood-Burning Furnaces” to the Township Ordinance Code 500-66 concerning accessory buildings. At the Oct. 5 council meeting Administrator William Senande reported there was no current code existing covering these furnaces. They burn wood so they are a fire hazard and they create smoke, he said. The location needs to be designated, how close to a home and a neighbor’s home they are allowed to be. Current parameters are based on the Planner’s recommendations. There was council discussion at that earlier meeting regarding furnaces and lot sizes. Council consensus was to have this revisited by the Planner to make sure setback distances would best apply to West Milford.
Ordinance 2022-051: This five-page ordinance amends the “Property Maintenance Code” and addresses vacant and abandoned properties. It, as with the other proposals, appears in full on the township website westmilford.org. Violators of the rules of this ordinance could face as much as $1,000 per day fines with each day the violation exists constituting a separate and distinct offense.
Ordinance 2022-052: This lengthly 9-page ordinance creates a new section of the township code entitled “Registration of foreclosure of Mortgaged Properties.” It requires registration and maintenance of mortgaged properties and provides enforcement od regulations.
Ordinance 2022-053: This ordinance amends and supplements certain portions of Land Use Procedures and Zoning Farm Animals of the Revised Township Ordinances. The council found it necessary to provide certain clarifications to the standards regulating fowl and farm animals “to ensure proper and efficient implementation.” Fowl will now be defined as domesticated chickens, ducks, peahens and the like, excluding roosters and male chickens of any age. Farm animals shall be housed and kept in a manner which will not constitute a public nuisance. More details are listed in the ordinance for rules to obey as to land size and other residential requirements.
Ordinance 2022-054: Laws controlling fences, walls and sight triangles are addressed. All fences are to be situated on a lot in such a way manner that the finished side of the fence shall face adjacent properties. A private residential swimming pool area shall be surrounded by a fence at least four feet, but no more than six feet, in height. Swimming pools shall be in rear or side areas only. A tennis court area, located in rear yard only, may be surrounded by a nonopaque fence of 15 feet in height -set back from any lot line the distance required for accessory buildings in the zoning district as specified. Read the ordinance in full for other requirements.
Ordinance 2022-55 sets the Director of Public Safety Chief of Police salary range at $45,000 to $180,000.