Town of Newton Designated A 'Tree City' By The Arbor Day Foundation
Thursday, May 31, 2012 • 11:39pm
NEWTON, NJ – The Shade Tree Commission and DPW presented Mayor Helen Le Frois and the Town of Newton Town Council with a plaque and Tree City USA flag, designating the town as a Tree City USA municipality.
“It’s the first year Newton has accepted this honor,” said Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr.
“I want to say thanks and give my appreciation,” said Le Frois to the volunteers who helped the town to be named.
Le Frois said initially when the press release was sent out, people asked how Newton qualified, especially due to the redevelopment efforts the town has been experiencing.
“When you look, in fact, all redevelopment plans include trees,” said Le Frois.
The Arbor Day Foundation sponsors the Tree City USA program, with the National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service.
The Town of Newton met four standards to earn its designation. Those standards are: having a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, a community forestry program with annual expenditures of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
“The flag will be up at Town Hall, and displayed later throughout the community,” said Russo.
In other business:
· The council praised the efforts of the police and fire departments for their handling of the car fire on Route 206 by Paterson Avenue.
· SCARC approached the town for funding from the Housing Trust Fund for four two bedroom units, and two one bedroom units on Mill Street, similar to what was given to Katie’s House. “They [SCARC] were looking for a full trust of $68,000,” said Debra Millikin, Deputy Town Manager. Millikin said Katie’s House already received $20,000, and the trust could provide the remainder to SCARC. The funds must be earmarked by July 17, and, Millikin said, the new units would contribute 10 units to the town’s third round COAH certification.
· Police Chief Michael Richards helped lead a discussion regarding the creation of an ordinance to increase liability for landlords whose tenants have been engaging in disruptive behaviors. “This is a way of getting the point across that the town is not tolerating these behaviors,” said Richards. “This is a first good step after they’ve been given due notice based on the action of the tenants.” Town of Newton Attorney Mark Hontz, clarified it is not a nuisance ordinance, which comes from the state, and is enforced by the prosecutor’s office. “We’re not looking for wrong glances, this has to be substantive offenses and wrongdoing,” said Hontz. The ordinance has been considered because of some disruptive incidents at boarding houses within town, especially on Halsted Street, which have required police intervention. What was proposed included fines starting at $500, and capping out at $5,000, or 90-days in jail. There were concerns if a “good landlord” could receive jail time, but systems would be in place within the ordinance to prevent that. Resident Neil Flaherty spoke during the public portion in favor of jail time. “You need to have that tool available,” Flaherty said.