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 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.

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.

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.

LETTER: Hickey has served Bedminster ‘in exemplary fashion’

EDITOR: In 2020, despite the global pandemic and national politics dominating the headlines and our own dinner conversations, the importance of a well-run local government dedicated to serving its residents has become crystal clear. As a former longtime Mayor of Bedminster, I can assure you that Colin Hickey rises to the task – in exemplary fashion – time after time.

Here are but a few of the challenges that Colin has tackled on behalf of our local residents and businesses:

Concerned about the financial health of residents facing furlough or job loss, Colin supported deferred tax payments and a revamped municipal budget that cut spending and reduced our already low tax burden. In addition, he has been leading the fight against the usurious rate filing from New Jersey American Water, who have been seeking a double digit increase in the midst of the pandemic.

For 10 weeks, when our residents seldom left their homes, Colin ran a pop-up food pantry at the Bedminster Township Municipal Building. His grassroots approach attracted hundreds of donations and helped over 650 families put food on the table when they needed it most.

As if these challenges were not enough, Bedminster residents were hit with multiple long-lasting power outages in 2020. Colin compelled JCP&L to open lines of communication and upgrade their facilities. The improvements are already apparent, yet his tireless work continues.

In addition to helping our residents, Colin continually looks for ways to sustain local businesses. He, along with the entire Township Committee, have come up with multiple creative solutions to help them recover from the shutdown. Examples include approving temporary signage, al fresco dining, extending the Bedminster Farmers’ Market through early December and more.

Colin understands that he was elected to work on local issues that impact Bedminster Township residents, and he is committed to that end.

I will be casting my vote to re-elect Colin Hickey to the Bedminster Township Committee. I encourage my friends and neighbors to do the same.

Bedminster Township

Editor’s Note: Bob Holtaway is a former Mayor of Bedminster Township.  This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

Two vie for seat on Bedminster Township Committee

BEDMINSTER TWP. – A Republican with a record of advocacy and a Democrat with “another point of view” will provide a choice in the race for a Township Committee seat in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

On the ballot for a three-year term are GOP incumbent R. Colin Hickey, who is serving his fourth year, and Democrat Jeff Beyer, who is making his second straight bid for the committee after running unsuccessfully last year.

Hickey and Beyer each discussed the issues in separate phone interviews with this newspaper.

The five-member governing body has been all Republican since Democrat Carolyn Freeman served out her term at the end of 2014.

Few local issues have sparked dissent during the coronavirus pandemic, but Beyer was critical of the committee’s Oct. 5 decision to hire a new organization to run its affordable housing services.

The committee replaced the Bedminster Hills Housing Corp. (BHHC), which had an administrator and several local board members, with CGP&H, LLC, of Cranford.

The BHHC had drawn criticism last year for neglecting and then reinstating a large “recapture” fee for residents who sell formerly income-restricted homes on the open market. The plan to replace the BHHC was not publicly disclosed until the Oct. 5 meeting agenda was posted online.

“The people in the BHHC reached out to me because they got so frustrated,” said Beyer, who voiced objections at the Oct. 5 meeting. “They got a letter saying there would be a change” yet the Township Committee “never sat down and discussed it with them.”

While Beyer acknowledged that the BHHC “had problems,” he said the committee allowed little time for rebuttals and “rushed” the change through. He said the process of decision-making “needs to be opened up.”

“We need some balance on this Township Committee,” he asserted. “It’s always the same people in lockstep.”

Hickey disagreed. “If he had been paying attention, he would have known this had been under discussion since last year,” he said. “He hopped on last weekend.”

CGP&H will provide “a much more comprehensive service” than BHHC has, Hickey said. Moreover, he said the committee learned that the BHHC had internal disputes such as rival factions stacking board seats.

“I wish Jeff had fully researched this because he may be unwittingly playing into the hands of people with their own self-interests at heart,” he said. “It’s a very complicated issue with a lot of players and it’s very difficult to boomerang in at the last minute.”

Hickey, 55, of Desiree Court, was appointed to the committee to fill a vacancy in August 2017 and was elected to a full three-year term that November.

He works as an independent consultant, helping start-up business. He previously worked for AT&T as its executive director of corporate development.

He has been a township resident for 28 years, spending the first 15 years in the Stone Run section of The Hills development. He and his wife have a daughter in college.

Beyer, 73, of Riverwood Avenue, serves on the board of the Clarence Dillon Library and is chairman of the Democratic Municipal Committee.

He owns a business, Enhancement Technologies, Inc., in Liberty Corner, that serves an international client base in the architectural products industry. He was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Vietnam.

A 32-year resident of the township, he and his wife have two grown sons.


“I can manage a budget, I can certainly help them (on the committee) keep the taxes low but I’d also like to see some investments,” Beyer said. “Interest rates are low now. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity.”

Beyer said the committee has done “nothing new or exciting” aside from launching the annual Farmers Market and the COVID-19 food pantry.

Hickey, however, cited numerous initiatives that he or his committee colleagues have led.

In the spring of 2019, he said, his background in utilities led Mayor Larry Jacobs to ask him to reach out to Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) representatives to address chronic power outages in sections of The Hills.

He and residents in The Hills worked with JCP&L to make improvements to underground wires, transformer boxes, overhead wires and the problematic Greater Crossroads circuit station, he said. Outages, he said, have been reduced but additional improvements are still sought.

The committee also spearheaded a legal fight against a proposed New Jersey American Water rate hike that would cost township homeowners an average of $90 to $100 per year, Hickey said.

Lawyers funded by the township and six other towns are leading the cross-examination of New Jersey American officials in hearings before the state Board of Public Utilities, he said. He expressed hope for a favorable settlement.

Also, he and Mayor Jacobs persuaded the state Department of Transportation to consider signage and traffic signal changes at the Route 206/River Road jug-handle, where motorists were making hazardous U-turns, he said.

As a member of a subcommittee to enhance technology and communication, Hickey said he helped to revamp the municipal web site, which went from being “dated and archaic” to a “much more user friendly” site offering more content, updates and online payment options.

The new site was inputted with pandemic-related information on which businesses were open, their hours and how they could be reached, he noted.

Hickey also said the pandemic led him to help create the township food pantry to collect food for local residents in need. He said that with help from Deputy Township Clerk Robin Ray and generous donations, the pantry served 650 families between April and June.

As the governing body’s liaison to the Recreation Committee, Hickey said he was involved in sending out a recreation survey that drew 576 responses in August and September.

The survey asked what programs and facilities residents might want to see, he said. “We had some ideas but we wanted to hear from residents. It was a way to get user input. It will inform our planning and budgeting.”

“I think I’ve been a very good advocate for the residents,” he said.

Community Center?

Beyer said that as a member of the library board, he saw the library’s leadership work to upgrade it from just a book depository to more of a community center.

He said that led him to think about the possibility of building an actual community center in the township. Neither The Hills nor the Bedminster and Pluckemin villages have a real “center,” he noted.

Such a project is something people could rally around because it could provide after-school activities and function as a center for music and the arts, Beyer said.

“I’m not saying I’m going to be a tax-and-spend Democrat but there are ways to build something like this without crippling the tax base,” he added. He said funding could also come from grants, possibly open space funds and in the form of donations from some of the township’s wealthier sources.

Hickey, when asked about the idea, questioned why the township would want to “replicate what we already have” at the library.

“It has become the community center,” he said. Moreover, he said The Hills has its own clubhouses to fill the role.

“I’m not sure it financially makes sense or is needed,” he said. “I’m not sure where you get the money to build and operate it and I’m not sure it’s a good investment of taxes.”

With respect to the 2020 municipal budget, Hickey said it was virtually finished in March when the impact of the pandemic hit. He said the committee chose to revisit the budget and cut spending to shrink the municipal tax increase from 1.6 percent to 0.64 percent.

“We pared everything down,” he said. “We looked at capital items, we deferred employee salaries. Our objective is always to do the right thing.”

Affordable Housing

A looming issue is development from state-mandated affordable housing quotas.

The township is required to zone for 28 income-restricted rental units by July. Five are being provided in the Elite Properties apartment complex under construction on Lamington Road, leaving 23.

The owner of land that includes the Bank of the America building on Burnt Mills Road has offered to build the 23 units. But with affordable units typically subsidized by a five-to-one ratio of market-priced units, township officials have said a project may need to accommodate about 150 apartments.

“We need to hear from the public in terms of what they want,” said Hickey. The project is “not even half-baked right now. There is no site plan.”

Beyer expressed familiarity with the 23-unit obligation but was unaware that the development site would be on Burnt Mills Road.

The estimate of 150 apartments “sounds like a lot of housing,” he said. He characterized the nearby intersection with Route 206 as “brutal.”

Beyer said some 900 new homes are planned further south on Route 206 in Bridgewater Township, and “the only way from Bridgewater to get to (Interstates) 78 and 287 is through that little checkpoint of Pluckemin.

“We’ve got to come up with some sort of solution because it could be a traffic nightmare,” he said.

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

LETTER: Hickey’s ‘performance speaks for itself’ in Bedminster

EDITOR: I have been lucky enough to call Colin Hickey my neighbor since moving to Bedminster and here is why I will be voting for him for a second term on the Bedminster Township Committee.

In the three years that he has served thus far, Colin has been a strong advocate for Bedminster, and has clearly demonstrated that he is here to serve the residents of our community. It is clear that he understands the job.

First and foremost, Colin always considers the needs of Bedminster residents, and is not distracted by the national political stage. In a world where politics are dividing our country, Colin has never cared about what party the residents are affiliated with. Instead, he continually focuses on how to best help his community.

As a member of the Township Committee, Colin helps bring about great activities and services that benefit the public. Colin’s lengthy record of service for Bedminster includes the establishment of new environmental and recreation programs, the latest being Family Movie Night.

He also serves as the township liaison to the Board of Education. This requires hours of dedication, commitment, and hard work, all of which Colin delivers.

Colin’s business credentials have enabled him to shepherd the adoption of new technology to improve municipal services. During his tenure, the township website has been revamped, tax payments have gone online, social media is now used to promote municipal programs and respond to resident inquiries, online survey tools are used to solicit feedback, and public meetings are now accessible and recorded via Zoom.

Colin regularly monitors social media and responds consistently to residents’ concerns and questions.

He has been instrumental in helping our residents find their voice when dealing with JCP&L power outages, driving the utility to make much needed infrastructure improvements.

He has been at the forefront of fighting New Jersey American Water’s proposed rate increase. Rather than leave residents to fend for themselves, Colin understands that his job is to advocate on their behalf.

Colin is a devoted volunteer and can be found dedicating his Saturdays working at the Bedminster Farmers Market.

When the pandemic started, Colin created the Bedminster Food Pantry, which he created to help the food challenged in our community. He was there every morning receiving donations with a smile on his face, and he then worked tirelessly to sort and organize the donations for pickup. No matter the cause, he is always eager to do more.

I don’t vote down the party line when it comes to elections. Rather, I look at the individual, and vote on performance, not promises. Colin’s performance speaks for itself.

Public servants are accountable to the citizens who choose to employ them. Colin takes this responsibility seriously. Please help make certain that Colin is able to continue his good work.

Vote Colin Hickey for Bedminster Township Committee.

Bedminster Township

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

Bedminster pressing to defeat proposed water fee hike

September 30, 2020

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Having spearheaded a multi-town fight against a proposed rate increase by New Jersey American Water (NJAW), township officials remain hopeful that the hike will be scuttled.

After negotiations failed to produce a settlement, hearings on the proposal began Monday, Sept. 21, before the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which will decide the matter.

The status was reported at the Township Committee meeting on Sept. 21. Committeeman R. Colin Hickey noted that NJAW had been granted rate increases in 2015 and 2018, so the increase would be the third in five years.

“I think the work that we have championed and the investment we have made in this is right because left unchecked, New Jersey American would just continue to hike rates and our residents would suffer and suffer tremendously,” Hickey said.

The impact “could be up to $100 per year and that’s every year,” he added.

The case was also discussed at the Peapack-Gladstone Borough Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

“What the public should know,” said Acting Borough Administrator Randy Bahr, “is that New Jersey American Water is seeking double-digit increases within the next 18 months, in the midst of a pandemic when there have been a lot of lost wages, a lot of lost jobs.”

The consortium’s legal team “feels they have New Jersey American a little scared,” Bahr added. “We’re hoping to come to some sort of settlement.”

In the meantime, the participating towns plan to issue a press release, he said. “I don’t think the public is aware New Jersey American is seeking this kind of increase.”

NJAW, the largest water utility in the state, filed a proposal last December that would increase its annual revenue by $87.7 million. The utility said its rate request was based on “the significant investment the company has made or will make into its water and wastewater infrastructure.”

The Bedminster Township Committee launched a fight against the proposal on Jan. 27, when it hired a law firm and a public utility analyst. Township officials said that while NJAW put the proposed rate increase at 11 percent, the cost-per-gallon hike would amount to 28 percent.

Attorney William K. Mosca of the Bevan, Mosca, Giuditta and Zarillo law firm of Basking Ridge was hired as legal counsel for a fee not to exceed $25,000. Exeter Associates of Columbia, Md., an economic expert in the specialized field of public utility analysis, was also hired at a fee not to exceed $10,000.

Bedminster then asked other towns to collectively join as interveners and help pay the costs. Through early July, it received formal commitments from Bernardsville, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Bridgewater Township, Raritan Township and Raritan Borough.

By Aug. 17, the legal fees had grown to $69,000.

Also expressing interest in joining the consortium were Bernards Township, Branchburg Township and Hillsborough Township.

But at the Sept. 8 committee meeting, Bedminster Township Administrator Judith Sullivan said the three towns had chosen not to participate.

Bernards Township Mayor James Baldassare Jr., in an email response to this newspaper on Friday, Sept. 25, said that “after careful consideration and deliberation, the Township Committee felt it was in the township’s best interests to forego this litigation and instead use established channels” such as the ratepayer advocate office.

Baldassare said that while he didn’t recall a specific dollar amount to join the consortium, “I believe that it was based off of the number of meters which would have resulted in a significant portion.”

Bernards Township would have been the consortium’s second most populous member after Bridgewater Township.

“Added to this is the fact that this litigation is open ended and litigation costs could have easily gone up exponentially as time goes by for this statewide rate increase,” Baldassare said.

An initial discussion between consortium and NJAW representatives was held in June but failed to produce any movement, according to Bedminster officials.

At the committee’s Sept. 21 meeting, Hickey denounced the utility’s quest.

“Frankly, this is a blatant attempt by New Jersey American Water to serve their stockholders as opposed to the ratepayers,” he said.

He noted that the utility’s literature boasted that NJAW had a 27 percent rate of return on investments, which was seven points higher than the industry average; and over-performed on the stock market by producing a 152 percent stock price increase over the last five years.

“So they’re getting their returns on the backs of ratepayers,” Hickey argued. He said Bedminster is pushing for no increase in the rate.

“Our testimony and our economic analysis has had a tremendous impact on these proceedings,” he said. “We’ve convinced the company to lower their demands significantly.”

Mayor Larry Jacobs said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on jobs and wages convinced township officials to “pull back” and rework the 2020 municipal budget in February. He said one might have thought the pandemic would make a utility “more circumspect and judicious” in reviewing a proposed rate increase, but NJAW “did not pull back.”

Jacobs said that while he meant no offense to the ratepayer advocate, he had been informed that “the research our attorneys and our economic advisor provided – they’re leading the way.” He said that at the initial hearing, the NJAW president was cross-examined exclusively by the consortium attorney.

“So these few towns,” he added, “that got together to challenge this increase will hopefully have profound impact for the towns involved and maybe with the rest of New Jersey who are New Jersey American Water customers.”

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

LETTER: Hickey ‘checks all the boxes’ in Bedminster

September 25, 2020

EDITOR: In what may be the final act to close out a brutally difficult 2020, it may take weeks to call some of the races in this year’s elections.

To my fellow Bedminster friends and neighbors, I ask for your support to ensure we re-elect Colin Hickey to the Township Committee. It has been nothing short of a privilege to serve with Colin over the past four plus years. I enthusiastically endorse and support Colin’s campaign and candidacy and hope you will do the same.

Colin checks all the boxes one would want from his or her local elected official. He is involved and dedicated. You’ve likely received that much needed update from Colin over social media concerning events in town.

Or perhaps you’ve run into him on Saturdays helping out at our Farmers Market. During our shelter at home directive this past Spring, Colin was at Town Hall daily, accepting and processing community donations for our Bedminster Food Pantry.

Colin gets results. In addition to performing his liaison duties with the Board of Education, Land Use Board, Recreation Committee and Environmental Commission, Colin willingly stepped to the front lines on behalf of all Bedminster residents serviced by New Jersey American Water this past year to challenge the water company’s rate increase application. Colin’s efforts led to a shared service arrangement between Bedminster and numerous other municipalities to challenge the water company’s application, enabling us to significantly offset our costs and expenses.

Colin also took the lead with interfacing with JCP&L over the frequent power outages in town. I witnessed him effectively broker tri-party discussions with JCP&L representatives and various community members.

While power outages remain a work in progress, Colin’s efforts to date have resulted in tangible enhancements and improvements to JCP&L’s electrical infrastructure servicing our community.

We on the Township Committee are proud of Bedminster’s ranking last year as the No. 3 town to reside in New Jersey. I’m here to confirm that Colin Hickey played his part in helping us achieve that lofty status.

Colin deserves another three years so please join me in voting for and re-electing him to the committee this fall. Thank you.

Bedminster Township

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