Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Weather Forecast

Township Committee Discusses Flood-Warning Ordinance, Repairs

Ellen Gilbert

Recent discussions about severe flooding were the basis of three Township Committee actions at its Monday evening meeting, among them the tabling of an ordinance that would require homeowners to disclose the possibility of flooding to potential renters.

The others included the emergency authorization of an $82,775 contract with Integrated Construction of Edison to repair a culvert on Braeburn Drive, and approval of a bond ordinance appropriating $500,000 for the replacement of a culvert and sanitary sewer pipe, also on Braeburn Drive.

Township Engineer Bob Kiser said that the $82,775 figure was the lowest of three bids received by his department, and expressed the hope that the work for which the $500,000 was slated would actually come in under that amount.

“As everyone on Township Committee and many residents are aware, we experienced some severe, very isolated flooding in the township not too long ago,” observed Township Administrator Jim Pascale as he introduced the ordinance concerning landlords and prospective tenants. “It was recognized that there is a loophole in existing regulations in that there was a rental property that was more flooded than others. We believe that current laws are inadequate with respect to alerting potential renters to flooding. This will require all homeowners to give potential tenants warning in writing of potential flooding.”

Township Committeeman Lance Liverman suggested a need for greater specificity in the wording of the ordinance. “Just saying ‘flooding’ may not be enough,” he observed. “We need to alert potential tenants to a ‘severe’ flooding possibility, not just a damp basement.”

“I think Lance hit the nail on the head,” agreed Deputy Mayor Chad Goerner. “This is good for creating a procedure, but it doesn’t provide tenants with a true picture of properties where particularly disastrous flooding could occur.”

Township Attorney Ed Schmierer noted that the relatively non-specific language used in the ordinance was a deliberate effort to avoid challenging Title 46 State regulations regarding disclosure. Under Title 46, landlords need only tell prospective renters that a property is located in a flood zone. Mr. Schmierer noted, more than once, that the onus for providing more information would be homeowners, and that “there’s no way for us to police that.” It was agreed, however, that Mr. Schmierer would “tighten up the language” of the ordinance for the Committee’s next meeting, on October 26.

A non-flood related action on Monday evening was the approval of a $9,500 per year agreement with the Las Vegas-based firm Rapid Notify, Inc. for a two-year contract extension on the Township’s emergency notification system. “Ever since 9/11 it’s been important to get to residents in case of an emergency,” noted Mr. Pascale. “Fortunately, we haven’t had one, but we do use the system to inform residents of things like road closings, gypsy moth spraying, etc.” 

Mr. Goerner reported that while there had not been much optimism about the Township receiving Recovery Act funds for infrastructure projects, the State recently asked Sewer Operating Committee manager Bob Hough to identify needed work and reapply for funds.

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