Scott Hatfield discusses upcoming community development and his role with municipal staff
Tuesday night, Nov. 27, the Burlington Township administration held a public hearing concerning an upcoming application for community development. The purpose of the hearing was to inform the public about the application.
Prior to the hearing, the township posted a notice on its homepage inviting the public to attend and comment.
The post read as follows: “On or before December 21, 2018, the Township of Burlington intends to submit a request to the Burlington County Office of Community Development for Community Development Block Grant funds. Prior to submitting its application for funds, the Township of Burlington will conduct a public hearing at its regular town meeting.”
Despite the notice, the community room at the Municipal Center where the hearing was to take place was completely devoid of the public when it came time for the hearing to begin.
According to Scott Hatfield, the director of the department of engineering, this is not uncommon at hearings of this nature. In fact, no one from the public has attended one of these hearings in at least the past three years.
Regardless, Hatfield dutifully made himself available and was there, open to comments or questions. He was able to shine some light not only on the upcoming development project but on his role as part of Burlington Township’s administration.
“The Community Development Program is federal housing funds that are administered by the county. You have to propose projects in certain census group areas that have been designated as low- and moderate-income areas based on the most recent census tract data. It has to be a project that specifically benefits the people that live in that area,” said Hatfield.
According to Hatfield, the township applies for the Community Development Block Grant Program every two years. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development describes the grant as “a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.”
The township typically uses the grant money to repave damaged or deteriorating roads. It will be notified of the grant award by next summer, and actual road work could begin toward the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
Despite the lack of attendance at the hearing, Hatfield believes the people of Burlington Township are in fact very interested in what goes on in their town.
“I think they’re very involved, but they also have a lot of faith in their elected leaders,” said Hatfield.
This year, everyone up for re-election on the town’s council, including Mayor Brian Carlin, won their respective races to continue serving Burlington Township.
A large portion of Hatfield’s job revolves around resolving issues that residents contact him directly about. He believes that his and the rest of the administration’s ability to address these issues when they first arise contributes in a positive way to the lack of regular attendance by the public.
“I field a lot of phone calls and have people in my office, and I find that if we address these issues properly when they’re in your office or on the phone with you, they don’t usually come out to meetings,” said Hatfield. “It’s when they can’t get satisfaction from municipal staff and their elected officials that they come out to voice their opinion.”
Hatfield wants the public to know he’s available to them at any time.
“I tell anybody who has an issue, ‘Come in and make an appointment,’ and I’d be happy to meet with them,” he said.
To reach Hatfield in his office, Burlington Township residents can call (609) 387–5178.