Bedminster featured in May edition of Real Estate NJ

Good governance anticipates the future. Thank you, Mayor Larry Jacobs, the Bedminster Township Committee and Bedminster Land Use Board for your vision and leadership. Read about it here:

Primary Night Fundraiser

After you cast your vote, come support the cause! The Bedminster Republicans will be hosting a Primary Night fundraiser at Burnt Mills Cider from 6:30 – 9:00 PM on Tuesday, June 6th. Share a cider with friends old and new, and meet this year’s candidate for Bedminster Township Committee, Colin Hickey.

Internet upgrade underway in The Hills in Bedminster

A long-running Altice Optimum plan to upgrade Internet service in The Hills housing development has broken ground, according to officials.

Township Committeeman R. Colin Hickey said at the committee’s meeting on Monday, April 3, that about half of the 22 homeowners’ associations in The Hills that need to sign access contracts with Altice to allow digging have either done so or are about to, but “Altice is not waiting for all 22.”

“The big dig starts this week,” he said. “Altice fiber is coming to The Hills.”

With Hills Village North as the starting point, construction began in the Cortland section earlier that day and is expected to last four to six weeks, Hickey said.

Other scheduled starts include Wynewood on April 24, Wood Duck Pond on May 15, Four Oaks on June 12 and Knollcrest on July 3, he said.

The sections that are not as close to signing agreements are nonetheless exchanging paperwork with Altice, Hickey reported.

“This is an exciting time,” he said.  “It’s a once in a generation upgrade to a network and system that many of our residents rely on on a daily basis.”

Altice, formerly known as Cablevision, provides Internet, cable television and phone service in The Hills, while Comcast provides those services in areas outside The Hills.

Hickey said the process started on Feb. 1, 2021, after complaints from Altice customers led the committee to arrange a virtual forum in which an Altice representative was present to respond to concerns.

By the summer of 2021, Altice expressed a willingness to upgrade its fiber coax network to fiber at no cost to residents.  But because laying the fiber would involve digging up private roads and landscaping, Altice needed to secure approval from each of the homeowners’ associations in The Hills.

In early 2022, Altice sent the associations an agreement with terms to review.  In the process, it agreed to cover the costs of restoring roads and landscaping.

Altice representatives proceeded to meet one-on-one with each individual association through the rest of 2022.

Mayor Larry Jacobs and other committee members praised Hickey for pushing Hills residents and their associations – several of which were initially reticent –  to engage with Altice and work toward agreements.

“The fact that shovels are in the ground today is a testament to the diligence you applied to this issue,” Jacobs said.

Committeewoman Renee Mareski said that as someone who lives in The Hills, she appreciated the upgrade. “It’s going to be a great addition to all our homes.”

Power Outages

Hickey also provided an update on efforts by Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) to reduce power outages in The Hills.

He said some recent outages were found not to be indicative of systemic problems.  An outage last October was caused by a tree falling on a transmission line in Branchburg Township; another outage in January was caused by a transformer fire in The Hills after a squirrel sought to nest there, he said.

The homeowners’ association of Wood Duck Pond, which replaced underground laterals at its own expense to address outage issues, later learned that JCP&L was responsible for the laterals and has now been reimbursed by the utility company, he reported.

JCP&L has also identified all transformer circuit boxes that are in poor condition but replacements will be delayed by supply chain shortages until summer, he said.

Jacobs credited Hickey with enabling Wood Duck Pond to get a reimbursement from JCP&L.  He said the utility denied responsibility for the laterals until Hickey conducted research and pressed the utility to review its past agreements.

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

Hickey to seek re-election in Bedminster

BEDMINSTER TWP. – The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee (RMC) on Wednesday, March 1, nominated Township Committeeman R. Colin Hickey, by acclamation, for another term on the Township Committee.

A resident of Desiree Court, Hickey has served on the committee since 2017. He will be seeking his third, three-year term.

Only one seat is up this year on the five-member governing body. All five current members are Republicans.

In a press release, Republican Chairman Steve Parker called Hickey “a tireless advocate for Bedminster residents.

“As the committee’s utility liaison, he has been taking on Jersey Central Power & Light for repeated power outages in The Hills, leading public forums with the utility to air issues and determine steps to improve service,” he said. “Most recently, Hickey pointed out the fine print in the utility’s own operating agreements which required JCP&L to repair and maintain failing service lines, saving the neighborhood associations tens of thousands of dollars both now and in the future.”

Hickey is currently leading the effort to provide fiber optic broadband service at no expense to all Hills residents beginning in the spring of this year, he added.

“With a deep background in technology, he has focused on improving communications with, and services available to, all residents. Over just the past year, the township has introduced new and improved systems for mobile alerting, web-based construction planning and permitting and on-line public meeting access.”

Parker said Hickey was unopposed.

Speaking to the RMC, Hickey emphasized his commitment to keep Bedminster’s property taxes low, preserve the township’s rural character and make local government work for the residents of Bedminster.

Hickey is the first announced candidate for the committee to date. The primary will be held on Tuesday, June 6, with the general election scheduled on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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

LETTER: Bedminster officials thanked for assist with power outages

TO THE EDITOR: I am the president of the Wood Pond Condo Association in The Hills.

I am writing to acknowledge the work that the Bedminster Township Committee has done to help residents address power issues that have plagued The Hills for the last several years.

Last Monday, the committee hosted a well-attended public information session with JCP&L. As they have done previously, our elected representatives convened this meeting to draw focus to the issues and hold the utility accountable for their performance.

While this well-advertised session was not the be all and end all to the continuing service failures, it is an important step along the path toward a solution.

I also wanted to recognize the ongoing work that Committeeman Colin Hickey has been doing in this regard. Not only is this a cause that he has been championing for the past several years, it is also a problem that he addresses in real time whenever there is an outage in Bedminster. Whether it is working the phones with JCP&L or providing status updates on social media, Colin is always there for us when the lights go out.

Most recently, my condo development suffered two separate outages that left entire buildings without power. Upon further inspection, JCP&L informed us that the failures stemmed from the underground connection, a.k.a., laterals, between their transformers and meters that serve the individual units, and that it was our responsibility to repair those lines.

Our condo board had to take extraordinary measures to restore power, including renting portable power trailers and hiring electricians to excavate and replace the lines. It came at significant expense, which would ultimately have to be borne by the residents.

At the time of the first outage, I reached out to Hickey for his help. Not content to take no for an answer, he researched the issue and informed us, and JCP&L, that he believed the responsibility for those failed lines lay solely with the power company. He continued to press the issue with JCP&L and work with us and the state BPU to help drive the matter to resolution.

I am happy to report that at last week’s meeting, JCP&L informed us that in fact those lines are their responsibility, and that we will be fully compensated for the repairs we undertook. Not only is this a big win for us, but also for all residents of The Hills.

I suspect that as the electrical infrastructure continues to age, these ‘lateral breaks’ will become more commonplace, and I am relieved that the burden for these repairs will be lifted off all our shoulders.

Kudos to the mayor, our Township Committee, and Committeeman Hickey in particular, for being our allies and advocates.

High Pond Road
Bedminster Township

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

Announcement – Candidate Screening

The Bedminster Republican Municipal Committee will hold their candidate screening meeting Wednesday March 1st at 7pm in the meeting room at the Clarence Dillon Public Library, 2336 Lamington Road, Bedminster Township. Anyone who wishes to present themselves as a candidate for Bedminster Township Committee is welcome to attend. Contact the RMC Chair, Steven Parker at [email protected] no later than February 26th.

Meet & Greet with Senator Doug Steinhardt

Make sure to RSVP to [email protected]. Hope to see you there!

Mayor Jacobs vows to protect Bedminster’s ‘semi-rural’ character

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Mayor Larry Jacobs hailed the handling of recent development projects but warned of looming threats to the township’s “semi-rural” character as the Township Committee held its annual reorganization meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

With the state poised to issue its next round of affordable housing mandates in 2025, some prospective developers “have approached us with visions of expanding multi-family opportunities into our rural areas and are disappointed when they do not get a favorable response,” Jacobs said.

“These developers are not going to go away quietly, there will be threats of builder’s remedy lawsuits,” he predicted. “We can wait and perhaps Trenton will try to fix this situation, or we can wait and let the courts decide. Those are not good options.”

The township has therefore engaged its professionals to anticipate its fourth-round obligations and to develop options that comply “that do not involve eroding rural zoning or sacrificing our commercial corridors,” he noted.

He said the township’s main challenges are to provide municipal services efficiently, keep pace with technology and the means of communicating with the public, develop zoning and affordable housing strategies that are consistent with the township’s character, and keep taxes low.

A long tradition of holding the annual reorganization at a venue offering food and drink, which was derailed by the pandemic, resumed at Fiddler’s Elbow County Club on Rattlesnake Bridge Road.

Most of the 75 or so people in attendance at Fiddler’s opted for the $50 dinner, and even those who didn’t were treated to free bottles of wine donated by a local winery.

Among the attending dignitaries was 23rd District state Sen. Doug Steinhardt, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, as well as Manville Borough Council President Joe Lukac and Raritan Borough Council President Nick Carra.

The five-member, all Republican governing body remained unchanged as Committeeman Doug Stevinson and Committeewoman Gina Fernandez, who won re-election in November, were sworn in to begin their third and second three-year terms, respectively.

They were re-seated along with Jacobs and Committee members R. Colin Hickey and Renee Mareski.

Jacobs was then formally chosen by his committee colleagues to serve a fifth straight one-year term as mayor for 2023.

‘Busy Year’

In reflecting on the past year, Jacobs said 2022 was a busy year on the human resources front, with officials spending hours reviewing resumes and conducting interviews.

The biggest moves both occurred in the fall when the committee promoted Frank Bernardo to police chief as Kevin Murray as director of public works.

He also praised the work of Township Administrator Robin Ray, saying she “exemplifies the Bedminster brand and sets the bar for that level of excellence and efficiency to the entire township staff.”

A key initiative was to start a new community garden at River Road Park, Jacobs said.

Boosted by a $300,000 Somerset County grant, it is expected to go the bid in the spring and have its first plantings in the fall.

Another major project, he said, involves repairs to the Miller Lane sewer pumping station. That effort is being funded by $1.47 million in government aid.

Internet upgrades for homes in The Hills housing development, which were facilitated by the township, might start by the end of the first quarter, Jacobs said. The upgrades are being installed by Altice Optimum.

The township’s annual Fall Fest returned to River Road Park for the first time in two years, and the Bedminster Farmers’ Market continued to grow as it gained a daily increase of nearly 200 attendees from the prior year, Jacobs said.

AT&T Relocation

On the commercial front, Jacobs noted that AT&T is leaving its massive office complex on Route 202-206 but will occupy the vacant former Mallinckrodt office complex up the road.

He and the committee are “pleased to keep AT&T in Bedminster and to retain all those jobs in town.”

As for the soon-to-be-vacant 1.1-million-square-foot AT&T complex, Jacobs said township officials completed a long-planned rezoning that should give the complex new life as “a multi-tenant, multi-use high-tech, life sciences campus.”

The rezoning “is not the end of our efforts,” he noted.

He said Somerset County, the state Economic Development Authority, the Governor’s Office, the state Office of Planning, Rutgers University and other agencies have all joined the township in seeking to “promote the re-use of that campus.”

“That property is our highest tax ratable and the Township Committee is dedicated to seeing it positioned as a world class facility,” her said.

In Pluckemin village, “run-down buildings are being demolished and new ones are going up,” Jacobs said.

The village has long needed a boost, he added, and “2023 will see new construction, new investment and new traffic improvements in Pluckemin.”

The local villages have “retained a semi-rural ‘Town and Country’ character because of years of strong planning efforts,” and “it is our job to foster and steward that brand,” he told the audience.

He said that is being done not by encroaching into the rural 10-acre zone, but by having new development “replace the existing out-of-date built environment.”

Jacobs concluded his remarks by challenging township boards to continue to increase their level of engagement and programming, bring in guest speakers, and work with other boards and possibly even other towns.

“The expectation should not just be attending a meeting but advancing a mission,” he said.

Voters Thanked

In keeping with tradition, the other members of the Township Committee also offered comments at the reorganization.

Stevinson and Fernandez both expressed gratitude for being re-elected last November.

“It’s truly an honor to have received your support,” said Stevinson.

Fernandez said she and her running mate were “truly grateful.” She also thanked several individual supporters.

With respect to the state of the township, Stevinson noted that the township ranked as the state’s third best town in which to live in the most recent edition of New Jersey Monthly Magazine.

He said also said that in spite of inflation, the 2022 municipal budget raised taxes by only 0.87 percent.

Hickey said committee members are “not exactly politicians but problem solvers.”

He said there are “no Democratic or Republican problems – just problems that need to be solved.”

Mareski spoke of board activities, saying the Environmental Commission hosted events like “Bat Night” and undertook an effort to clean the Bedminster Pond off Route 206.

Fernandez said the township’s boards and committees are “really the meat and potatoes of town.”

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

Thank You

We’d like to express our deepest thanks and appreciation to everyone who voted for team Stevinson & Fernandez this year. We are both honored and privileged to have earned your trust and support to continue representing the Bedminster community on the Township Committee. We look forward to continuing to fight to keep Bedminster affordable while improving the quality of life for all of our residents.

Thank you again to all out there who played a role – large or small – in our re-election campaign. Whether you wrote a letter on our behalf, walked with us on the campaign trail, assisted with disseminating our materials, made a monetary contribution, or casted your vote for us, we sincerely thank you.

Doug & Gina

LETTER: Republicans Stevinson and Fernandez ‘work for every Bedminster resident’

TO THE EDITOR: As a current Bedminster Township Committee member, I whole-heartedly support the Republican candidates running in this year’s local election, Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Committeewoman Fernandez uses the unique insights she has gained from teaching and aptly applies them to the municipal environment. For example, her perspective on setting expectations and enhancing student performance drove the development of new systems for hiring and maintaining Bedminster Township staff.

She is an adept organizer and planner – what teacher isn’t? – which enables her to continually help develop new programs in her capacity as Recreation Committee liaison. Our Fall Fest and Trunk or Treat events are just two in the list of many.

Stevinson, a lawyer by trade, uses his legal power to our advantage. At every meeting, he asks the right questions to make certain that each project is on budget, and he is always working to ensure that issues are treated consistently and equitably.

You can also see Doug’s coaching skills at work, providing constructive comments at the same time as giving support for each project we undertake. He does this for every pursuit – great or small, internal or external.

One of the issues the Township Committee has been working on over the past several years is maintaining compliance with our affordable housing obligations. As a former resident of Parkside, one of our affordable income neighborhoods, I appreciate that Doug and Gina support these programs completely.

Doug’s legal expertise has helped ensure that the existing program is self-sufficient and our newly mandated affordable housing requirements are properly fulfilled.

Gina, also an affordable housing beneficiary, is a strong advocate for the program, as it provided her with the initial opportunity to join our wonderful town. Now she is giving back to the community she loves and making sure that Bedminster provides the programs, facilities and services that make Bedminster an even more attractive place to live, work and play.

It is important that we have committee members who work for every Bedminster resident, which is what Doug and Gina do.

On Nov. 8, I ask that you join me in voting to reelect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to help keep Bedminster a safe and welcoming place for all.

Crestmont Road
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez ‘get results’ in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: I write in support of Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.

We are fortunate to live in Bedminster, and both Doug and Gina are responsible for maintaining and improving this great community.

It is easy to take things for granted – low taxes, beautiful parks and open spaces, good zoning, well-maintained roads, responsive, and highly accessible, local government.

We need to remember we have these things because Doug and Gina and their colleagues on the Township Committee work hard for them.

Doug and Gina care and they get results.

Don’t take things for granted, vote for Doug and Gina on Nov. 8.

Old Farm Road
Bedminster Township

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

EDITORIAL: Our Municipal Endorsements

Voters in Bernardsville, Bernards Township and Bedminster will decide contests for municipal seats in the Nov. 8 general election.

In Bedminster, Republican incumbents Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez are seeking re-election to three-year terms.

They are challenged by Democrats Giuseppe Zaccagnini and Uttara Patla.

While we’d like to see a Democratic presence on the all-Republican committee to offer checks and balances, our endorsement goes to the team of Stevinson and Fernandez who have proven themselves to be hard-working, competent public officials.

Running for the second straight year, the Democrats say the committee fails to address the needs of residents of The Hills development. It’s an issue Democrats recycle nearly every election campaign – and it just doesn’t hold water this year. The committee has addressed several issues that directly affect residents of The Hills, such as power outages and efforts to improve internet services.

Stevinson, an attorney, and Fernandez, an educator, are also part of a team that has worked to ensure that AT&T remains in the township, albeit at a new location. The committee has also made some recreation improvements, established an excellent farmer’s market and received a grant to create a new community garden at River Road Park not far from The Hills.

The Democrats have had little presence at public committee meetings and have few legitimate issues in this race. On Nov. 8, Bedminster residents should re-elect Stevinson and Fernandez to the Township Committee.

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

LETTER: Fernandez, Stevinson ‘delivering results’ for Bedminster’

TO THE EDITOR: I am writing to encourage your readers who live and vote in Bedminster to help re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to the Bedminster Township Committee.

As a longtime resident and former mayor of Bedminster, I am grateful for Doug and Gina’s commitment to keeping Bedminster affordable, securing our community’s future and delivering results.

Never ones to sit on the sidelines, Doug and Gina’s service to Bedminster began years before they were elected to public office.

Doug previously served on the Bedminster Land Use Board, Recreation Committee and Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House. He was also a coach and past president of the Bedminster-Far Hills Little League.

Gina’s numerous volunteer activities include past leadership roles as Bedminster PTO vice president, PTO Spring Fling co-chair, Bernards High School Project Graduation chair and Girl Scout troop leader.

Through these prior positions, Doug and Gina honed their collective work ethic and built leadership skills that they successfully utilize in their present roles on the Bedminster Township Committee.

Doug is an attorney who ably applies his legal knowledge to all areas of Bedminster Township business. Doug’s expertise has been essential in enforcing zoning regulations to address unsightly structures, managing the capital program for roadway and trail maintenance and realizing efficiencies through shared services agreements.

A teacher by day, Gina is also the Bedminster Township Committee lead for human resources. Always task-oriented and driven to achieve great outcomes for our residents, Gina is focused on filling openings with qualified employees who look out for Bedminster residents with the same work ethic, dedication and compassion that she gives to her role on the Township Committee.

Doug and Gina and the rest of the Township Committee have a great track record as champions for Bedminster. The committee has reduced spending, improved municipal services and expanded recreational facilities and programs, while continually delivering budgets that keep Bedminster taxes among the lowest in Somerset County.

Whether voting by mail, during the early voting period or in person on Nov. 8, if you love Bedminster as much as I do, vote for Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.


Fairview Drive
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Bedminster committeeman backs Stevinson, Fernandez

TO THE EDITOR: Back in the day, I enjoyed reading William Safire from The New York Times, whose “On Language” column regularly critiqued the origins, uses and abuses of the English language.

In reading your most recent coverage of the upcoming Bedminster election, I was struck by the creative words used by the Democrat candidates to describe the sitting members of the Township Committee, of which I am one, and thought I’d respond by getting my inner-Safire on.

“When you have everyone on the same side, there’s a herd mentality that comes into play,” stated one challenger.

I would counter that the committee is all on the same side – the side of Bedminster residents! Be it keeping taxes low, advocating for improved infrastructure or expanding municipal services, you can rest assured we fight to protect the herd – our residents – by placing you atop the pack at every turn.

Without offering examples or specifics, the opposition cites a lack of “transparency” and “accountability” from the Township Committee. Although it is impossible to prove a negative, we all know that actions speak louder than words.

In that regard, the committee has significantly expanded access to government affairs. Notably, we rolled out an entirely new website that makes a wealth of information about municipal programs and services readily available. Residents can sign up for text, email or phone alerts, register for programs and pay their taxes all from the convenience of their homes. Meeting minutes, budgets, agendas and even newly digitized construction records are just a click away.

Residents, always welcome at committee meetings, now have the option to attend in person or online. If you can’t make a meeting, you can review the recording at your convenience.

To get the word out to residents interested in specific topics, we run special public meetings covering affordable housing, gas service, mental health awareness, recreational improvements and more.

Each committee member maintains a persistent presence on social media, where we regularly answer questions and address concerns posted by residents. These numerous examples of increased access and accountability flatly belie the attacks of the Democrat challengers.

“Arrogance” was another word leveled against the incumbents. The word comes from the Latin “arrogans” which means overbearing, often with pride. We do indeed take pride in our town and do not shy away from our love of Bedminster.

Nor will we apologize for the level of involvement, commitment and dedication we contribute to the community. This year’s campaign slogan, Champions for Bedminster, embodies the esteem that  Stevinson and Fernandez hold for our town and its residents. Whether it’s the new community garden, the return of our annual Fall Fest and trunk or treat events, a revamped Pluckemin School House Park or new recreational programs, Doug and Gina are constantly innovating to improve our residents’ quality of life.

The word “forgotten” was bandied about, almost as if they forgot what it means. The etymology of the word comes from old English, which immediately conjures up bad memories of reading Beowulf in freshman year. “Forgietan” meant a failure to recall or to neglect inadvertently, which the local Democrats have claimed the committee has done with The Hills.

Applying the language of mathematics, this is an absurd claim, as The Hills comprises over 60 percent of Bedminster’s total population. Any candidate would be foolish to ignore the majority of their constituents.

Also, four of our sitting members have lived in The Hills, one still does, and two got their start in Bedminster through our affordable housing program.

Perhaps the challengers have forgotten to read The Bernardsville News and its extensive coverage of the committee’s advocacy work that primarily assists The Hills. For example, this paper has frequently reported on the Altice project we are pursuing to upgrade The Hills cable infrastructure to fiber and our ongoing efforts with JCP&L to further reduce power outages in The Hills neighborhoods.

We on the committee have also championed infrastructure projects that positively impact The Hills, including roadway and signage improvements on Robertson Road and Routes 202/206, repaving of public roads within The Hills, street lighting replacement and expanding the bike and hike trail.

We work daily with property managers, board members and Hills residents to resolve issues and ensure everyone is treated as a valued customer.

In closing, one last word comes to mind – consistency, a word with Latin roots which originally implied “standing together.”

If you love living in Bedminster, I strongly encourage you to vote for the team that consistently demonstrates leadership and delivers strong results. Join me in voting on Nov. 8 to re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to the Township Committee.


Bedminster Township

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

Democrats challenge GOP incumbents in Bedminster

BEDMINSTER TWP. – Having fallen short in their bid to unseat two Republican Township Committee incumbents last November, a pair of Democrats are giving it another try.

The Democrats, Uttara Patla and Giuseppe Zaccagnini, will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election ballot for two, three-year committee terms. Their opponents this time are Republican incumbents Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Last year, Patla and Zaccagnini lost to GOP incumbents Larry Jacobs and Renee Mareski by a margin of more than 3 to 2.  It was the Democratic Party’s tenth consecutive defeat for committee after scoring an upset victory back in 2011.

In separate phone interviews with the four candidates on Friday, Sept. 30, Patla and Zaccagnini took the Democratic Party’s traditional stance that the five-member, all-Republican governing body needs different voices and does not adequately address the needs of The Hills housing development, which comprises a majority of Bedminster’s population.

“When you have everyone on the same side, there’s a herd mentality that comes into play,” said Patla.

Stevinson and Fernandez rejected those charges and cited numerous committee actions that they said have benefited the greater community, including efforts that benefited The Hills in particular.

“Our message is positive,” said Stevinson.

Stevinson, 51, of Ski Hill Drive, is seeking his third, three-year term on the committee.  A township resident for 18 years, he is an attorney, specializing in commercial, real estate and financial litigation.

Fernandez, 42, of Deer Haven Road, is seeking her second, three-year term on the committee.  She has lived in town for 16 years, and is a teacher of elementary grades in Union Township.

Patla, 53, of Smoke Rise Drive in The Hills, is a native of India who has lived in town for 23 years.  She is a corporate communications professional for Prudential Financial.

Zaccagnini, 73, of Stone Run Road in The Hills, immigrated from Italy as a teenager to Peekskill, N.Y., and has lived in Bedminster since 2016.  He is a retired attorney and educator who has worked and lived overseas.


The Republicans each spoke about accomplishments and challenges.

Fernandez, noting that she once lived in income-restricted housing in The Hills, said her priority it is to “reduce spending and keep taxes low to keep Bedminster affordable.”

“The cost of living is a challenge everyone is facing,” she said.

Stevinson said the committee also “looks for opportunities to enhance the quality of life in Bedminster while keeping the cost as low as possible.”

An example, he said, is the effort to create a community garden at River Road Park.  He said the committee chose a location relatively close to The Hills because residents there have limited opportunities to do gardening.  This summer, the project was boosted by a $300,000 Somerset County grant.

Another effort was to address dilapidated buildings in the Pluckemin and Bedminster villages, Stevinson said.  The adoption of a stronger property maintenance code led the owners to remove those buildings, making the properties more marketable for redevelopment, he said.

Residents do have questions, he said, about an approved project on Burnt Mills Road that will add retail space and 160 housing units to help meet an affordable housing mandate.

He said the township “made the best of a situation we had to comply with” by getting the developer to fund needed traffic improvements at the intersection of Route 202/206 and Washington Valley/Burnt Mills Road.

Town hall staffing challenges were noted by Fernandez.

She said the committee hired a new township administrator and a new recreation director, and is now in the process of seeking a new police chief and a permanent public works manager.  Each vacancy was triggered by a retirement.

“We try to make sure they provide a certain level of customer service,” Fernandez said.

In terms of township activities, Fernandez said the Recreation Department has taken over the annual Fall Fest festival from the Seven Charities group, and has taken over the Halloween Trunk or Treat from the school district.

Stevinson, calling himself a “big-time recreation guy,” said the Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park facilities were recently improved to provide better basketball courts, more “usable grass” and potentially pickleball courts.

Fernandez also cited communications upgrades, saying that after the pandemic hit, the committee had the township create a resource guide providing information on recreation, health, finance and food resources.

Also adopted was the county’s Stigma Free Initiative, which led to another resource guide focusing on mental health resources, she said.

Checks And Balances

On the Democratic side, Zaccagnini suggested that the township purchase more open land if county funding is available.

But the challengers focused mainly on criticism of the committee.

“I think you need checks and balances – diverse points of view,” said Patla.

She said she perceived a “tone deafness” and lack of “transparency” on the committee and saw a need for “voices that can question things.”

“With consolidation comes arrogance,” Patla said.  “What I see is a lot of arrogance on that committee.”

Zaccagnini expressed a similar view, saying there is “a dire need in Bedminster to have some diversity represented on our Township Committee … making sure there is transparency and accountability in decisions that are made.”

Fernandez said she didn’t understand the transparency charge.

She said committee meetings allow viewing and commenting via Zoom and are videotaped; residents can subscribe to get township information emailed to them; the municipal web site has numerous links; and listings of township programs are enclosed in tax bills.

“The information is out there,” she said.  “We have gone over and above to get the word out and communicate.”

Stevinson said the question of political balance is determined by voters.

“What we do at the local level is not partisan,” he asserted.  “The only question we ask is, ‘Is it good for Bedminster or is it bad for Bedminster?’  I view myself as a public servant.”

Any notion of “the five of us on the Township Committee ramming down a Republican agenda” is not the case, he added.

Patla also said she would “love to see a representative of The Hills” on the committee.

When it was noted that Committeewoman Renee Mareski resides in The Hills, Patla replied that in the meetings she’s watched via Zoom, “I have not seen a lot of participation from Renee.”

She said she has not seen The Hills on meeting agendas, and she maintained that power outages in The Hills are longer than in other parts of town.

The committee “seems more aligned with the west side” of the township, she said.  “The Hills is a forgotten entity, in my opinion.”

Stevinson countered that Committeeman R. Colin Hickey has worked with Optimum Altice to bring Internet fiber connections to The Hills, which will increase speeds and better enable Hills residents to work from home.

“We pay particular attention to The Hills,” Stevinson said.  “You’ll find us predominantly walking in The Hills, finding out what’s going on.”

Fernandez said that in The Hills, management companies handle certain maintenance services and when those services aren’t delivered, some residents mistakenly fault the township.

“All services to the west side of the township are the same services we provide to The Hills except where we can’t overstep our bounds,” she said.

As they did in last year’s campaign, the Democrats criticized the committee over the past resale of income-restricted housing units, which allowed some rentals to lose their affordable status.

As a result, the committee in 2021 replaced the Bedminster Hills Housing Corp. (BHHC) – which for years handled low-cost home sales here – with CPG&H, LLC.

Patla also said the committee should do more to address maintenance problems at the privately owned Pluckemin Park senior citizens housing complex off Route 202-206.

Stevinson agreed that conditions at the complex are “unacceptable,” but said the township has succeeded in getting the property owner to fix some problems and will continue its efforts.

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

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez have ‘championed quality of life’ in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: Politics is often dominated by what the big media tells us is important in Washington.

However, local government has a much greater effect on you and me. Local officials guide how your community works, your property taxes and your quality of life.

We are fortunate in Bedminster to have neighbor/leaders like Doug Stevinson, Gina Fernandez and our Township Committee to preserve what we love about our township and keep our community’s future bright.

Doug and Gina have championed quality of life enhancements while serving on our Township Committee. Most recently, after issuing a systematic survey to the residents to determine community needs, issues and priorities, they are working to create a community garden in Bedminster and the township has since secured funding to pay for it.

Gina and Doug are also working hard to improve our playgrounds and enhance our recreation programs.

Bedminster continues to guide smart development while protecting our open space. Dilapidated structures have been torn down and new buildings are coming in that meet community needs, satisfy state-mandated COAH requirements, and enable the business community to shoulder a greater portion of our property taxes.

The long-feared departure of AT&T from their Route 206 campus has been mitigated as our local leaders have encouraged them to move to the old Mallinckrodt complex – keeping Bedminster’s largest taxpayer in town.

Doug, Gina, and the Township Committee continue to help AT&T’s old property owner to find a new tenant that will add to our tax base and enhance our community.

Every vote counts. Whether you vote by mail, take advantage of early voting or come out on Nov. 8, please join me in re-electing Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for Bedminster Township Committee.


Airport Road
Bedminster Township
The writer is a former Bedminster Mayor and Township Committeeman

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

LETTER: Bedminster incumbents ‘serve their neighbors’

TO THE EDITOR: Come Nov. 8, I will be voting for Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez for the Bedminster Township Committee to help them continue making positive contributions to the great quality of life enjoyed by Bedminster residents.

I moved to Bedminster 30 years ago, attracted by the green spaces, the low taxes and its location. Over the years I have met many people who make the time to serve their community, whether on boards in The Hills, committees in the town or on the Township Committee.

Doug and Gina are such people. They, too, treasure what Bedminster has to offer and have worked hard to keep its strengths and meet the community’s needs. They do this by leveraging their skills and experience.

For Doug, that is ensuring he reads the fine print, considers all options and asks key questions to ensure the best outcome is reached.

For Gina the first question she always asks is, “What is best for all of the residents in Bedminster?” and then advocates for the solution that will best serve the residents rather than what is expedient or popular.

Doug is seeking a third term on the committee. During this time he helped us navigate through the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic ensuring no interruption in services.

He is the committee liaison to the police, fire and the public works departments, and his commitment to both the needs of those who serve, as well as those who are served, is always apparent.

Doug judiciously protects Bedminster’s future through optimal management of our affordable housing program and establishing reasonable zoning regulations to improve our community.

He also looks to grow recreation options through his championing of the dog park, hike and bike path extension, refurbishment of the Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park and obtaining grant funding for community garden construction.

Gina is seeking a second term on the Township Committee. During her time on the committee, her commitment to the people of Bedminster has never wavered.

In her role as the human resources liaison, she has ensured the best candidates for 12 township positions were identified and hired.

Gina is also the liaison to the Recreation Department and Recreation Advisory Committee, partnering to sponsor events such as the Halloween trunk-or-treat, free outdoor movie night and a relaunch of Fall Fest.

She joined forces with others in Somerset County to launch the Stamp out the Stigma initiative, taking the role of county liaison and Township Committee resource to make certain that our community is made aware of the numerous mental health services available to residents.

Bedminster is such a special place because of the people who look to serve the needs of their neighbors, both now and in the future, which is why Doug and Gina will be getting my vote.

Please consider doing the same on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Wendover Court
The Hills
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez are ‘Champions for Bedminster’

TO THE EDITOR: This year’s contest for Bedminster Township Committee features two highly accomplished incumbents running for re-election, Committeeman Doug Stevinson and Committeewoman Gina Fernandez.

The hallmarks of serving the community are time and dedication, which these two candidates have demonstrated in abundance.

Now in his sixth year on the Township Committee, Doug previously served on the Bedminster Land Use Board, Recreation Committee, Bedminster-Far Hills Little League as former president, and Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House.

Gina, who is completing her first term on the Township Committee, has been a constant presence, volunteering for the Bedminster Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), vice president, the PTO Spring Fling, co-chair, Bernards High School Project Graduation, chair, and 12 years as a Girl Scout troop leader.

But the work doesn’t stop come Election Day – quite the opposite. I sit on many boards in Bedminster, including serving as the chair of the Land Use Board, president of my local condo association and treasurer of the Hills Village North Master Association. I can tell you from personal experience that the best board members are the busiest ones, and Doug and Gina are no exceptions.

When Doug saw blighted buildings in Pluckemin Village, he sprang into action, using his legal expertise to craft what is commonly referred to as a “zombie ordinance.” It essentially forces landowners to address derelict properties or face fines and potential condemnation.

That’s the reason those abandoned buildings on Route 206 were demolished, and the vacant house next to the Exxon station removed. Like many Hills residents, I can’t thank Doug enough for leading the efforts to eradicate those eyesores.

Doug has continued to advocate for all residents on a variety of complex issues, be it open space grants for our new community garden, affordable housing obligations or the capital investments necessary to maintain our extensive inventory of roadways and trails.

Never content to be on the sidelines, he is the quarterback that energizes the organization and consistently delivers results for team Bedminster.

Similarly, Gina, a teacher by trade, is all business.

She has overseen numerous staffing decisions following the retirement of several Bedminster institutions, including our clerk/administrator, DPW director and now our chief of police. In every instance, Gina’s steady hand and forthright approach have ensured continuity of services and no disruption to Bedminster residents.

Those who know Gina recognize the passion she brings to any project she takes on.

She’s the force behind Fall Fest, new Rec Department programs like trunk-or-treat and the township’s efforts to address mental health issues in concert with Communities in Crisis.

Her experience across a wide variety of disciplines and her infectious enthusiasm makes Gina the go-to person who simply gets things done.

On Nov. 8, I plan on voting for the team that are champions for Bedminster.

Please join me in re-electing Committeeman Doug Stevinson and Committeewoman Gina Fernandez to the Bedminster Township Committee.

Heatherwood Lane
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Stevinson, Fernandez put Bedminster residents first

TO THE EDITOR: Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez are eager to continue their roles on the Bedminster Township Committee.

Stepping up to the plate and taking action, they are not done building on initiatives yielding concrete outcomes. By pivoting to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, while keeping Bedminster’s agenda on track, they have proven they can lead under any circumstance.

Seeking a third term on the Township Committee, Doug will continue to emphasize the importance of the township managing the affordable housing requirements that impact the municipality. Local control through zoning and collaborating with potential developers will ensure Bedminster’s growth is not dictated through a court order or builder remedy.

He is cognizant of the impact on schools, roads, municipal services, retail, medical care, and law enforcement when Bedminster faces decisions on residential growth.

Working with the other Township Committee members and staff, Doug will continue to oversee parks and public facilities improvements, update employee personnel policies and make certain that at-risk seniors have safe living conditions.

As the committee liaison to the police, fire and public works departments, Doug will continue to negotiate fair contracts and ensure our residents are well protected.

Seeking a second term on the Township Committee, Gina’s positive contributions to the well-being of Bedminster residents are many.

Proud to serve as the human resource liaison, she executed new recruitment policies to hire the best candidates for 12 Bedminster Township senior positions, including township administrator, recreation director, finance lead and technical assistant to the construction official.

Gina works closely with these new hires, ensuring a strong partnership with the committee to implement operational efficiencies, fiscal responsibility and new community programs.

Gina, understanding the pandemic left many families with post-traumatic stress, volunteered to work directly with the Somerset County wide Stamp out the Stigma initiative.

She presented a plan to the Bedminster Board of Health that outlined ways to help minimize mental health stigma so families can access linkages and support.

The board agreed to champion the program with Gina serving as the county liaison and Township Committee resource. In this role, she will make certain that Bedminster residents are made aware of and have access to mental health services.

As the liaison with the Recreation Department and Recreation Advisory Committee, Gina is teaming with the new recreation director to sponsor community events, such as the Halloween trunk-or-treat, free outdoor movie nights and a refresh of the Fall Fest.

Together, Doug and Gina will adopt annual budgets below the rate of inflation, support commercial enterprises and equestrian activities to lessen residential tax burdens and negotiate new shared services arrangements to continue fiscal responsibility. They will put taxpayers first.

Doug and Gina are the real deal. They are inclusive, respect diversity and will represent everyone. Their eagerness to hear all residents’ needs, concerns and desires is sincere.

When Doug and Gina knock on doors, residents are delighted to learn that Gina is fluent in Spanish, and she is more than happy to translate for Doug.

I trust Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez to continue implementing initiatives that put the people of Bedminster first.

That’s why I’m voting for them; please do the same on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Ashley Court
The Hills
Bedminster Township

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

LETTER: Re-elect Stevinson, Fernandez in Bedminster

TO THE EDITOR: Bedminster is fortunate to have two very qualified individuals running for re-election to our Township Committee this November, Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Committeeman Stevinson is completing his second term in office and has served our community exceedingly well.

A strong advocate for recreation and open space, he championed the creation of the dog park at River Road Park, oversaw the expansion of the hike and bike path to Burnt Mills Park and spearheaded the refurbishment of Pluckemin Schoolhouse Park.

He has been instrumental in delivering budgets that keep Bedminster a leader in low municipal taxes.

His 15-plus years of voluntary service to the township have given him the leadership and experience to deal with the most complex aspects of municipal government, and he is viewed by colleagues and constituents alike as the “go-to guy.”

Doug’s community activism, however, extends well beyond the confines of Town Hall. “Coach Doug” has been a fixture both in the dugout and courtside, previously assisting our Little League baseball teams and now an integral part of our recreation basketball program.

Not to be outdone: If volunteerism had a face, her name would be Gina Fernandez.

A leader in our community, a teacher in Union Township and the mother of two, she does it all. Gina served as Bedminster PTO vice president and has co-chaired Spring Fling over multiple years, helping to raise over $100,000 for Bedminster School.

In 2018, she also ran Project Graduation, which coordinates multiple fundraisers and social events for the graduating class at Bernards High. In her spare time over the past 12 years, she has also served as a Girl Scout leader for the local troop here in Bedminster.

As a Township Committee member, Gina has been instrumental in handling many of the complex personnel issues involved in running a Township. As committee liaison to the Recreation Committee, Gina has overseen the revitalization of our parks and the relaunch of Fall Fest.

Working with the Board of Health, she has also championed the new “Stigma Free” mental health initiative here in town. This program was developed to encourage those whose mental health has suffered, particularly as a result of the stresses placed on many during the past two years, to seek assistance and no longer suffer in silence.

Doug and Gina’s enthusiasm for Bedminster is contagious – they truly love everything about our small town.

In November, I strongly encourage my fellow residents to re-elect Doug Stevinson and Gina Fernandez.

Fairview Drive

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