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Resident Parking Concerns Highlight Council Meeting

Meanwhile, $1 Million Bond Ordinance Passes to Fund Capital Projects

Stemming from the last Municipal Council meeting of 2011, Dee Hank continued to plea with Council members to help her solve the ongoing parking plight she and her fellow residents of Carpenter Terrace face.

And this time, Hank brought several neighbors to Belleville Town Hall for Tuesday night's first Council meeting of 2012 – one highlighted by resident parking concerns that barely lasted longer than an hour.

Hank and the other residents of Carpenter Terrace spoke about the lack of parking near their apartments, but mostly were indignant while alleging that Steve Grogan – the owner of nearby apartment units – put up barricades to keep them from parking where he allows his tenants to keep their cars while claiming Hank and the other residents cross his private property to access the lot that is county property.

Moreover, Hank said Grogan threatened to have the Carpenter Terrace residents' cars towed and said he left letters on their cars warning them as much. One of the letters shown to Patch said in bold capital letters, “THIS LOT WILL BE CHAINED OFF ASAP” and ends by saying “PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK.”

Although Township Manager Victor Canning and First Ward Councilwoman Marie Burke each spoke with Essex County Deputy Administrator Paul J. Hopkins, but neither Burke, Canning nor the residents have documents detailing what property rightfully belongs to Grogan and what belongs to those living on Carpenter Terrace.

Meanwhile, both Canning and Mayor Ray Kimble cautioned that Belleville could not dictate terms to Grogan because, as Kimble said, “It's not the town's property. It's the county's property.”

Second Ward Councilman Steve Rovell then suggested the Carpenter Terrace residents contact newly elected 5th District Freeholder Brendan Gill, a former Belleville resident, to express their concerns.

This calmed Hank and Jose Hernandez, who both own units, somewhat – but only after the latter talked about he lost two tenants over the past year because of parking issues.

“I can't hold a tenant due to parking. We need some kind of relief,” Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, Zughel Ortiz of Belmont Avenue informed the Council that since a new doctor's office opened on the corner of her street and Newark Avenue, there have been several instances of people parking their cars in her driveway.

Burke checked on this and called her findings “disgusting” after informing her fellow Council members, “They have two parking lots. Why they don't park in the lots is beyond me.”

After Ortiz expressed her frustration for a few minutes, Burke offered this suggestion: “I know our mayor doesn't like permit parking, but maybe that's the way to correct this.”

In other news Tuesday night:

  • The Council passed a $1 million bond ordinance for capital projects by a 6-0 count, with Councilman-at-Large Michael Nicosia not present. According to Kimble, the funds will go toward purchasing “a few” dump trucks and also repair the roofs of township buildings. Canning said some of the funds could help fix roads on Garden Avenue and Greylock Parkway, among others.
  • During his report, Canning informed the Council and the public that the process of shaping the upcoming budget had begun with Kimble, Councilman-at-Large Kevin G. Kennedy and himself staging a meeting of the minds. Although hearings have started with various township departments, he cautioned, “I'm sure there will be several rounds (of meetings) before we are done.”
  • When a resident addressed concern over the Belleville Water Department's recently finding elevated lead levels in drinking water, Canning said it only occurred in certain areas of town but that, “Every time we get a positive result, we're required to tell (the entire town).”

    Canning also added that in the contaminated areas, the township could dig up lead pipes and replace them with copper. However, homes already containing lead could still end up being effected.

The next Municipal Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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