Council approves speed limit changes, increases township solicitor duties at meeting

The speed limit on Salina Road was increased to 30-mph, while Solicitor Stuart Platt was given responsibilities in regard to redevelopment

At the Wednesday, Dec. 26, meeting, council voted to increase the speed limit on Salina Road, while also increasing the duties of Township Solicitor Stuart Platt to include legal counsel concerning township redevelopment.

Council approved an ordinance 3–1 on second reading, changing the speed limit on Salina Road from 25 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour from the Deptford Township line to Egg Harbor Road. Councilwoman Angela Donato voted no and Council President Nick Fazzio was absent.

According to Township Engineer Anina Hogan, the speed limit on Salina Road had been changed from 40 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour through an approval granted by council in the past. However, Hogan said, while the speed limit of 40 miles per hour was set by a speed study, there was no proof to the recommendation substantiating the change to 25 miles per hour. Therefore, the 25 miles per hour limit was unenforceable and Washington Township police were unable to administer speeding tickets.

“Unfortunately, the speed on Salina Road is the same; they are driving the same speed they were driving back when it was set at 40 miles per hour,” Hogan said. “It hasn’t actually made things better.”

Last year, the previous administration requested Hogan and the Washington Township Police Department provide reinforcement to properly support the 25 miles per hour speed limit.

After review of the traffic study and traffic count, it was found the speed remained closer to 40 miles per hour. However, recommendations were made through a speed study to change the limit to 35 miles per hour due to the conditions of the road.

According to Hogan, many local residents on Salina Road were displeased with the recommended increase in speed to 35 miles per hour, and after numerous discussions between the neighborhood and Chief of Police Patrick Gurcsik, 30 miles per hour was considered a more acceptable speed for police enforcement to attempt to slow down drivers.

Council also voted on an ordinance increasing the duties of Platt to include legal counsel in regard to redevelopment. The ordinance was adopted on second reading with a 4–1 vote, with Councilwoman Dana Pasqualone voting no.

“There has been an increasing amount of demand for redevelopment by property owners, businesses and the public to promote economic development and business retention within the Township of Washington using the powers and responsibilities under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law,” the ordinance said.

According to the ordinance, the additional duties include providing legal counsel and advice concerning redevelopment. By assigning the additional responsibilities to Platt, the township anticipates potential savings that otherwise would have been spent on retaining special redevelopment counsel, which had been done in previous years.

Pasqualone recommended the township put the position out for RFP to ensure the cost accompanied with the additional work was adequate, as Platt will be requesting compensation of approximately $25,000 for the redevelopment task to be approved in the 2018 salary ordinance. According to Platt, he will be tracking his hours so the township can review the time dedicated to this responsibility at the end of the year, while the majority of the salary to cover the redevelopment duties will be reimbursed to the township through escrow agreements.

“It’s a position that needs to be filled,” Fazzio said. “Would you rather have somebody else involved doing it, probably billing a lot more, or someone who is already involved in the process that has experience to do it?”

According to Fazzio, the proposed salary for the redevelopment obligations equals approximately $200 per hour, for about 130 hours throughout 2018. The salary will not be voted on by council until the municipal salary ordinance in 2018.

In other news:

• Council authorized a contract to Facility Solutions Group, Inc. for energy efficient light upgrades to township buildings. According to the resolution, the replacement of the lights will result in not only energy savings, but cost savings as well.

• The Washington Township Council reorganization meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Building.