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LETTER: Jacobs and Mareski called ‘proven leaders’ for Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: When you cast your vote for Bedminster Township Committee, ask yourself how much sweat equity has each candidate put into the betterment of Bedminster?

For me, the answer is easy. Larry Jacobs and Renee Mareski, who have devoted countless hours over many years to serving the residents of Bedminster, can count on my vote to re-elect them in November.

As longtime residents of Bedminster, Larry and Renee have consistently addressed local issues that impact the quality of life for all township residents.

Their desire to help the community initially led them to volunteer to serve on boards and commissions where their contributions resulted in beneficial outcomes for Bedminster. Both moved up the ranks in their service to Bedminster before being elected to the Township Committee.

Now, as members of the committee, Larry and Renee continually advocate for Bedminster residents, making certain that their collective voice is heard. Depending on the issue they, and the rest of the committee work with representatives from utility companies, service providers, and state and county government so that these entities understand the needs of our residents and are prepared to take action.

Over the past year, this advocacy has produced positive results. Under the leadership of Mayor Jacobs, the Township Committee has successfully applied the swing weight of local government to accomplish what one person or the homeowners’ association could not do on its own: help residents impacted by the fire in Village Green; adjust the new Somerset County recycling program to accommodate smaller receptacles where appropriate; reduce the frequency of power outages; improve Internet performance; and secure safety improvements to the River Road intersection on state highways 202/206.

Not only are Jacobs and Mareski proven leaders who understand and successfully execute the business of governing Bedminster Township for Bedminster residents, they are also hands-on volunteers who support numerous community programs such as the Bedminster Farmers Market, the pop-up food pantry, and a wide variety of environment and recreational programs.

Although Jacobs and Mareski each maintain a full-time career, they are faithful volunteers at the Bedminster Farmers Market.

Every Saturday morning from Memorial Day through mid-December, Renee works the early shift, setting up traffic cones, signage, tents, tables, trash cans and sanitizing stations, before she moves on to another passion, equine therapy.

From 9 a.m. through 1 p.m., equipped with radio and orange signal baton, Larry directs traffic in the parking lot. When the market closes, he transfers to cleanup detail, putting everything away that the early shift set up.

It’s not unheard of for Larry and Renee to work for Bedminster on Sundays – preparing for Township Committee meetings, responding to questions on FaceBook, or even surveying storm damage and road conditions.

Based on their strong work ethic, demonstrated commitment, and dedication to Bedminster residents, I will be voting for Larry Jacobs and Renee Mareski in November for re-election to Township Committee and I urge all Bedminster residents to do so as well.

JIM CHRISTIE
Fairview Drive
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Bedminster Pond Improving After Treatments

Just three months after its appearance spurred concerns that it was slowly dying, things are looking better for a popular, man-made fishing pond off Route 202-206 near the AT&T office complex.

At the Township Committee meeting on Monday, Aug. 16, Committeewoman Renee Mareski said the pond had undergone its third chemical treatment this season as “it looks very nice.”

Mayor Larry Jacobs observed that “just a few weeks ago, the algae was still there.”

Mareski credited the improvement to the township having gained “a little more experience” with pond maintenance.

The six-acre, municipally owned pond was created by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) during the construction of Interstate Routes 78 and 287 in the 1960s. The DOT excavated soil from the site, creating a pit that ultimately filled up with water runoff.

Located near hike-and-bike trails, the pond has been known to have large carp. But when last summer brought extreme heat and humidity, the pond acquired a “skunky” odor and lacked its usual presence of swans and ducks.

On March 17, the committee approved an Environmental Commission proposal to try to improve the water quality through a two-year trial of increased treatment for weed control. Also approved was an Eagle Scout project to measure the depth of the pond, as well as measurement by a drone.

The cost was projected at $7,000 to $10,000 per year, excluding $1,500 for the drone measurement.

The number of treatments was increased from just one every spring to five per year, so at least two more are planned in 2021.

Mareski said after the meeting that the Eagle Scout pond measuring project, which would utilize a marked pole from a canoe, is planned this fall. She said the pond will be easier to clean if its depth is at least eight feet.

After weed control is implemented and pond depth is determined, plantings would be made in the more shallow areas to “restore balance” to the pond.

“We will do an evaluation next year to see how the treatments are going,” Mareski said.

The Bedminster pond, though public, is not widely known and has limited parking and access. There are two relatively small, unpaved and unlabeled parking areas along Route 202-206 that are used as access.

The pond is nevertheless known among local fishermen. An online state Division of Fish and Wildlife list of “places to fish” has a chart that includes the Bedminster pond and denotes it as having Largemouth Bass.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Outages in The Hills in Bedminster Reviewed

Aug 19, 2021

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Despite two significant storm-related outages in The Hills development last month, a utility representative told the Township Committee on Monday, Aug. 16, that upgrades have and will continue to be made.

The outages occurred on Tuesday, July 6, and Thursday, July 8. Both involved the Greater Crossroads Circuit and each affected about 644 Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) customers in Bedminster, according to township officials.

In response, the committee invited Carol Bianchi, regional affairs director for JCP&L, to discuss efforts to reduce outages in The Hills.

Bianchi, a Basking Ridge resident and former Bernards Township mayor, began by providing more details.

The July 6 outage occurred during high winds and rain that caused a tree to fall on a primary wire and knock out power for about 225 minutes, she said.

The July 8 outage occurred during Tropical Storm Else which caused a lightning strike at Greater Crossroads and knocked out power for about 189 minutes, she said.

But Bianchi noted that so far this year, those are the only two outages from Greater Crossroads to have impacted more than 100 people. Last year, she said, the total was 14.

Greater Crossroads is one of five circuits that serve the township, along with the Somerset, Peapack, Chambers Brook and Dead River circuits.

Bianchi said JCP&L will focus on a circuit if it has “a bad year,” and the utility pursued upgrades to Peapack and Chambers Brook before turning its attention to Greater Crossroads where it “identified issues.”

The upgrades included the addition or replacement of equipment and supplemental tree trimming. Among the new equipment was the installation of a trip saver, which minimizes outages caused by a branch or animal temporarily coming in contact with the line.

The performance of Greater Crossroads is “actually very good this year,” Bianchi said. “I think we’re seeing that improvements are happening.”

Restoring power can take longer than people would like, she noted. She explained that JCP&L crews must first isolate a site and make it safe, repair high voltage lines and prioritize restoration to critical services.

But the utility also takes preventative measures, she said. They include circuit inspections in five-year cycles, infrared scans of circuits every four years, wood pole inspections every 10 years, and vegetation removal in four-year cycles.

Mayor Larry Jacobs saw improvement.

“We monitor complaints from our residents,” he said. The complaint level “seems to have abated and we attribute this to our relationship” with JCP&L.

He also praised Bianchi as being responsive.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Bedminster Bans Marijuana Businesses

Jul 12, 2021

BEDMINSTER TWP. – After devoting far more time to the issue than its Somerset Hills neighbors, the Township Committee became the last of the five governing bodies to adopt a ban on marijuana-related businesses on Tuesday, July 6.

Some towns prohibited marijuana uses “within a couple weeks,” Mayor Larry Jacobs said moments after the vote. He said that in contrast, the committee brought in experts, attended talks and reviewed the issue with township boards and local residents.

“We took a little bit more of a deliberate approach than some other towns,” Jacobs added. “It may have irritated some folks that we didn’t move instinctively or reflexively. But I think that what we did was appropriate. We wanted to give it consideration and we wanted to hear from others.”

Towns across New Jersey have been reacting to state legislation, signed into law on Feb. 22, that legalized recreational marijuana while giving towns until Aug. 21 to “opt out” of allowing marijuana businesses within their borders.

If a town does not “opt out” by Aug. 21, it would be required to permit such businesses for the next five years.

Municipalities have the right to prohibit the cultivation, manufacture, wholesaling, retailing and distribution of marijuana, as well as marijuana shops. The one thing they can’t stop is the delivery of out-of-town marijuana to local homes.

In the other Somerset Hills towns, elected officials decided early on that marijuana businesses were not in the interests of their community.

The Bernardsville Borough Council and the Far Hills Borough Council each adopted a ban on April 12, followed by the Bernards Township Committee on May 25 and the Peapack-Gladstone Borough Council on June 15.

The public hearing in Far Hills drew comments from five out-of-town residents who opposed the ban. But none of the governing bodies heard opposition from their own constituents. The Bedminster Township Committee probed the issue more deeply. In its meetings between April and June, its discussions of the marijuana law added up to more than four hours, including a two-hour presentation by the township’s legal counsel.

As the committee prepared to hold its public hearing, Jacobs said the state has formed a commission that will devise regulations for how marijuana businesses will operate. But he said those regulations are unlikely to be in place before the Aug. 21 opt-out deadline.”So to some extent you’ll be flying blind,” the mayor remarked. He said that in seeking community feedback, “there does seem to be a consensus that until the regulations are in place, it’s appropriate for Bedminster to opt out.”

Other committee members agreed.

“We’d be irresponsible to permit something that we have no idea what we’re permitting,” said Committeeman Doug Stevinson. He called the ban “a no-brainer.”

During the public hearing, Paige Nielsen, youth engagement coordinator for Bernardsville based Community in Crisis, a non-profit group, introduced two Ridge High students from Bernards Township.

Student Jabeen Sheikh said allowing marijuana businesses would give the false impression that the drug is not detrimental. He said it increases the risk for depression, suicide and even psychosis.

Student Maura Medenilla said youths use fake identification to illegally purchase alcohol and could be expected to do likewise at marijuana shops.

The committee went on to adopt the ban in a 4-0 vote, with Committeewoman Gina Fernandez absent.

The committee also voted to re-introduce an ordinance that would ban marijuana smoking, vaping or aerosolizing at public places like parks, shopping centers and parking lots.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, July 19.

“Our focus here is not some moral statement or judgment,” Jacobs said. “This is about the impact on third parties – the smell, second-hand smoke.”

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

2021 Campaign Kickoff

Join us for our 2021 Campaign Kickoff and Fundraiser on Wednesday, May 26th at 6 PM. Enjoy pizza and your first cider with a suggested donation of $40 per person. Please make checks payable to “Jacobs & Mareski 2021.” Burnt Mills Cider is located at 3540 Route 206 North, Bedminster.

More information here: Spring Cider with Larry & Renee | Facebook

Bedminster RMC Selects Jacobs and Mareski

The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee proudly endorses Mayor Larry Jacobs and Township Committeewoman Renee Mareski for re-election to the Bedminster Township Committee. Jacobs and Mareski have provided wise and steady leadership during extraordinary times.  They safely guided the township through the pandemic while keeping our parks, Farmers Market and recreational facilities open.  They supported our local businesses by instituting policies and regulations that enabled their continued operation in the midst of the crisis.  Recognizing the economic stress placed on our community, they opened a Food Pantry to help those in need, and tailored the municipal budget to keep spending to an absolute minimum.

They have led our town through Presidential visits, protests and an economic recession, all while the eyes of the world were on Bedminster.  With more challenges ahead, including the post-COVID economy, business recovery, and our affordable housing obligations, Bedminster needs prudent, experienced and mature leadership moving forward.  Mayor Larry Jacobs and Committeewoman Renee Mareski have proven themselves to be advocates for the community, and bring with them a wealth of knowledge to ensure that Bedminster continues its tradition of excellent governance paired with an unsurpassed quality of life.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Candidate Screening

The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee will hold their candidate’s screening via Zoom at 7pm on March 23, 2021.  The committee will be screening candidates for Township Committee and will decide on two nominees for the organization’s endorsement.  Prospective candidates who wish to be considered and members of the public who wish to attend, should contact the Bedminster RMC at info@bedminstergop.org by March 14th.

LETTER: Bedminster Committeeman Thanks Voters

EDITOR: While the results are preliminary and things could certainly change, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to the residents of Bedminster for the confidence they have placed in me as reflected at the ballot box.

As is the case every October, candidates for elected office invade the physical and digital landscape. Corners are occupied with signs, Facebook feeds become filled with political advertisements and strangers knock on doors at the most inopportune times.

While these are the necessary evils of campaigning, the fact that you allow us to interrupt your daily routine is greatly appreciated and never overlooked.

This year’s election season brought with it the most anticipated Presidential election in many years, and emotions ran high on both sides of the political aisle. Despite that, the good folks of Bedminster took time out to share with me their thoughts and feedback – often with much candor – and for that I am deeply thankful.

Public service is a privilege that I do not take lightly or for granted, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to work on behalf of all our residents.

Regardless of where folks may stand on politics during these challenging times, I think every resident has a strong interest in maintaining the quality of life and low taxes that are the hallmark of Bedminster and township government. I will continue to advocate for all residents and will maintain a strong focus on tackling and resolving local issues.

I would also like to express my thanks to Jeff Beyer.  Running for office is never an easy job, and both campaigns focused on the issues in a positive and respectful manner.

Now that campaign season is over, I am eager to get back to work. What has always been paramount to me is listening to your thoughts and taking action.

I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Bedminster.

R. COLIN HICKEY
Bedminster Township Committee

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

LETTER: Hickey backed for ‘selfless devotion to Bedminster’

EDITOR: I write in support of Colin Hickey’s candidacy for Bedminster Township Committee.

Colin is an exceptional committee member, and he deserves re-election.

I have worked closely with Colin over the past several months as the outside attorney for Bedminster – and a consortium of other municipalities- that banded together to fight New Jersey American Water’s proposed rate increase.

Colin immediately understood the complicated issues surrounding ratemaking, and how best to counter the inflated request. With his help and leadership, N.J. American was forced to reduce its request to a small fraction of its initial demand.

Colin’s hard work, integrity and selfless devotion to the Bedminster public must be rewarded with another term.

Vote for Colin – he’s earned it.

WILLIAM K. MOSCA JR.
Smoke Rise Lane
Bedminster Township

Editor’s note: This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

EDITORIAL: Our local endorsements for Bernardsville, Bernards Township, Bedminster and Far Hills

Voters in four of the Somerset Hills towns will decide contests for municipal seats in the Tuesday, Nov. 3, general election.

Board of Education seats will also be filled in the election, but there are no contested school board races in the local communities.

In Bedminster, residents will fill one, three-year term on the Township Committee.

Republican incumbent R. Colin Hickey is seeking re-election against Democrat Jeffrey Beyer.

Beyer, a business owner, is calling for more balance on the five-member Township Committee, which is comprised all Republicans. He was critical of the committee’s recent decision to replace the Bedminster Hills Housing Corp. (BHHC), which has long managed the township’s affordable housing sales, with an outside firm, with the little advance public notification.

We agree with him on both fronts. There could be better balance on governing body, which sadly has never spoken a critical word about President Trump’s political activities in town, even following his reckless decision to attend a fund-raiser at his private club here after knowing he was exposed to the coronavirus.

And the decision to terminate the BHHC – a significant change which very well may have been the correct move – was nonetheless sprung on the community with virtually no notice and little opportunity for public input.

Regardless, Committeeman Hickey is not fully responsible for the decision and deserves another term in office based on his extensive contributions to the community.

Hickey has been an outstanding asset to the governing body, working effectively on multiple fronts.

A professional consultant, he has led the township’s effort to fight an exorbitant rate increase proposed by the New Jersey American Water company. He has also worked with JCP&L to help bring about real improvements to end power outages. Both issues directly impact a significant number of township residents.

Hickey has also lent his expertise on technology issues and been a hands-on volunteer with other community efforts, such as the establishment of a food pantry during the pandemic.

On Nov. 3, Bedminster residents should re-elect Colin Hickey to the Township Committee.

Editor’s Note: The entire article with endorsements for neighboring towns appears in The Bernardsville News.