As we continue our efforts in service to this town, our friends, and neighbors; we must address things that occasionally pull focus and attention from the true and important work of running a government.
Unfortunately, for several months; endless questions, unfounded accusations, and false narratives during meetings and on social media have been presented and directed to elected officials, professionals, our fellow Delran residents, volunteers, local businesses, and even township employees regarding the incredible event we hosted in town.
I have remained quiet, allowing for freedom of speech, and it has been my belief that eventually the truth would simply prevail. However, the cost of waiting for truth to out is now at a point where it can no longer be left to time.
This has put unnecessary stress on Council and the employees of this town and their families who have done nothing wrong, and who have continued to show up and diligently work for their Delran family every day with integrity in spite of that stress.
So, it is a new year. And a new year calls for new solutions to old problems.
I have maintained throughout these inquiries and this rhetoric that nothing illegal or unethical occurred in the planning or execution of this event.
It’s time to put this to bed once and for all.
Therefore, in my continued effort towards transparency, and because I am so confident that nothing illegal or unethical was done in the preparation or execution of this event; I have personally requested an audit by the State Comptroller and a review by the State Ethics Board.
Unlike OPRA requests or the appointment of special counsel (both of which would incur a cost to the township itself, and by extension our taxpayers), inviting the State of NJ to objectively and impartially investigate relieves that burden.
I will eagerly comply with the state and allow their decision to be the final word on the subject. Again, I am that confident that we have done, seen, and heard nothing wrong, and our residents deserve to hear that not only from us; but from the experts at the state level.
Furthermore, our elected officials, our township employees, and our volunteers deserve to be able to live their lives in and around this town that they love and work so hard for, with their heads held high.
First, I would like to thank Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and Commissioner Dan O’Connell for joining us for our first meeting of 2022. Assemblyman Dr. Herb Conaway and Senator Singleton were unable to attend due to a schedule conflict, but I would like to congratulate all of them on their recent re-elections.
Senator Singleton, Assemblyman Conaway and Commissioner O’Connell are all Delran Residents and I am personally grateful that they and Assemblywoman Murphy have all offered so much of their time and assistance over the past year with township events and aiding us with accessing county and state services and resources that allow us to better serve our Delran Family members.
I would like to extend congratulations to Councilman Marlowe Smith on winning his election to finish the last year of his first term as Councilman. The residents of Ward 3 will be represented very well.
I would also like to extend my thanks to all the employees of Delran township for continuing to work SO hard every day in service to this town, especially during another year facing this unprecedented pandemic with unexpected struggles and loss.
So many of our employees have worked above and beyond their regular duties, often on their own time, to maintain the level of service our residents need and deserve.
I would also like to thank the Police, EMS, Fire Department and Public Works for their level of responsiveness and devotion to public safety, and congratulate them on being some of the finest examples of the “gold standard” in upholding the oaths they have all taken.
Finally, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge, after 32 years of service, the official retirement of our Township Administrator, Jeff Hatcher. We are grateful for everything he has done for Delran since 1989 and I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize that.
While we work towards finding his replacement, it is vitally important that our residents know that we, along with senior staff and all township employees and professionals will do everything in our power to make sure that this period of transition is as seamless as possible.
Especially worthy of appreciation for her incomparable level of help is our Township Clerk, Jamey Eggers. It’s no secret inside the township building that Jamey wears MANY hats, but I would like to personally thank her for picking up SO many additional duties during this time, especially after just recently taking on an additional role in the tax office.
We are so incredibly fortunate to have someone work so hard for this township, and because so much of her job happens behind the scenes; most of our Delran family don’t realize just how fundamental she is in making sure everything goes smoothly.
Last year, when I was sworn in as Mayor, I shared that “We’ll figure it out” is my family’s motto.
This past year we accomplished many of the goals we had when we started serving our Delran family and there is much more left to do as we continue to figure it all out.
Council and I looked at many of our township ordinances, redrafting and in some cases removing antiquated, confusing or conflicting laws governing Delran in favor of better, more realistic approaches to government. I thank the members of Council and the Solicitor’s office for their hard work.
We have begun the process of expanding the diversity and community outreach of our Police department and I am proud to continue working with our newly sworn in Police Chief, James Mitchell, to continue on that path.
We have started to expand our communications with residents to reach more community groups within the town that have been largely overlooked. We have some big plans for what’s coming next with regard to communications and outreach, especially with our seniors.
I am also very pleased to mention the hiring of our new Construction Official Bill Lunemann, who has been instrumental in bringing the inspection schedule back on track for the residents and local businesses, after a backlog was created due to Covid. We have heard from many residents that they have been happy with this change, and we’re proud to have Bill on the team.
We have spoken about the Carli Lloyd Event many times before. I will not repeat myself. Except to say that it was a wonderful event and we are very proud of Carli.
The final highlight of 2021 was that we were once again able to celebrate the arrival of Santa and the tree lighting during Winterfest. We have heard from so many residents that they had a wonderful time kicking off their holidays with us, and it was a great way to end the year with the community. My thanks to the volunteers and especially the RAC.
Finally, I am sad to announce that we have once again been forced to make some difficult decisions regarding access to meetings and the building, effective immediately. The two new strains of Covid; Delta and Omicron, have unfortunately led to a deeply troubling rise in case numbers for Delran, and public safety MUST be our primary concern.
While the availability of the vaccine has made a huge difference and has shown to be effective in decreasing fatalities seen previously; some of the most vulnerable members of our Delran family are still not old enough to be vaccinated and the rate of transmission indicates that these variants are spreading faster than ever.
Delran Township will be closed to the public for all meetings, events, gatherings and any departmental offices not separated by a glass partition until further notice. A complete and detailed list of the new protocols in place is available on the township website and facebook.
Unfortunately, that also means that we will need to delay recognition of Delran’s Golden Regiment, the Delran Soccer Team and the Delran Green Team until a safer time. We are so Delran Proud of all of them and look forward to a time when those proclamations can happen.
We have resumed Zoom meetings until we feel that we can safely reopen the building and will continue to closely monitor the guidance recommended by the Burlington County Health Department, the NJDOH, and the CDC and share that information as it becomes available.
I would like to urge all residents to be vigilant as well as kind to one another as we continue to move forward.
We will continue to make ourselves available to our residents as much and as safely as possible, for whatever they need,
We will share our progress in the many projects we look to accomplish in 2022, and
We will continue to work on the issues that face Delran… and “Figure It Out”… together… as a family.
Dear Delran Neighbors: Over the last few years you’ve told us that you want us to stop the over development of what little open space we have left. You are concerned about the overcrowding in our schools, the increased traffic congestion, and the condition of our roads.
We have especially heard your concerns about what occurred recently regarding residential developers coming to the township. We have been forced by the courts to allow developers to build more residential dwellings where other recreational and outdoor options would have been much more beneficial to our residents.
We have done much to address these concerns, but there is still much more work to do. Voting YES to current Municipal Ballot Question #1 allows us to continue that work; using the Open Space Preservation Fund after the current program ends in 2024. This referendum is the first and most necessary step needed to finish the work we started for you. Remember, this creates NO additional tax burden to our residents.
In addition to fighting against further housing development, we have heard that you want us to find a place to build a community center in town for our children and seniors to enjoy, create and maintain a multi-purpose turf field, and continue to develop and maintain our other parks and fields. These are just a few of the things that the Open Space Preservation Fund will allow us to do.
Furthermore, this fund gives us the ability to preserve historical sites throughout town, as well as looking at potential physical venues to house the Delran Historical Society, so that they have a place to share their research and photos that make up our Delran Township history. This could offer the possibility of field trips for our children to learn first-hand about our community.
Preventing overcrowding and traffic congestion in our town is important to ALL of us, and we want to see the township preserve the agricultural history and small-town community feel that makes Delran special.
We all want a place to gather for events together as a family and community; such as Delran Night Out and the recent Carli Lloyd Celebration, to provide for the needs of future generations with accessible playgrounds; like Jake’s Place (the first of its kind in Burlington County) and the Buddy-Ball field, and maintain and develop the coming multi-purpose Carli Lloyd Field. All of these wonderful things we have been able to offer to our Delran families happened at Delran Community Park, which was purchased with the assistance of Open Space dollars.
With your help, we can continue to work together to ensure that our Delran community’s vision for the future is realized. Please, vote YES on Municipal Ballot Question #1.
Attention Delran Residents: It has come to my attention that certain rumors, accusations, and statements were made regarding a fellow resident’s corporate sponsorship involvement with the Carli Lloyd Event on October 14th, as it relates to that resident’s current application and variance request before the Township Zoning Board.
First and foremost is it important to note that Zoning Board members may never have made a connection between the application in question and the corporate sponsorship for the event, had it not been posted by a non-resident on social media which made it a topic of conversation.
The Zoning Board is a quasi-judicial body comprised of volunteer citizens that are beholden only to consider if an application meets the qualifications of the existing land use laws of the State of New Jersey and the applicable ordinances of Delran. In the case of an application that includes a request for a variance; they are authorized to grant a variance-based solely on the merits of the application itself and its impact on the town.
They are given guidance during the process of hearing an application from the board’s attorney, engineer, and planner and must make the decision based on whether the applicant demonstrates that the variance would have a positive benefit for the town that outweighs any possible negative impact of approving said variance.
It should be noted that Delran’s land-use laws were enacted consistent with the Master Plan, which was drafted by the Planning Board many years ago. While the Master Plan is subject to periodic reexamination, due to State-mandated requirements; it is an open, public process and, other than the public comment provided during each hearing; it is not subject to the influences of anyone outside of that board. Private agendas and emotions are not a factor in the process, nor can they be.
Additionally, the applicants, their attorney, and any additional witnesses involved during an application hearing are expected to give sworn testimony, subject to the same penalties of perjury that would be applicable in a deposition or court of law.
Furthermore, the implication that the applicant in question, a long time Delran resident and personal friend of the guest of honor, was attempting to bribe or coerce a volunteer citizen board or circumvent the application process in any way, is not only preposterous; but could easily create standing for their own libel case. It not only could be considered negatively impactful to the business the applicant currently owns, but also to their friends and family (including Carli Lloyd) who have been affected by the defamatory comments.
We would also like to remind all residents that Zoning and Planning Board meetings are subject to the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6, commonly known as “Sunshine Laws” as is every Township Council Work Session or Public Meeting. All of these meetings are recorded, and records of these meetings are kept and made available to all residents who submit a request through the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.
Finally, we would like to remind you once again that Zoning and Planning Boards are comprised of your neighbors, who have volunteered their time to serve our town. Discussions implying impropriety or that they are somehow influenced by a corporate sponsorship for a special township event, can only be considered to be absolutely offensive to each and every member of those boards.
Last night, Delran township had to make the difficult decision to award the Municipal Solid Waste collection contract to Republic Trash Services once again. A statement on behalf of myself and the Council can be found here: Statement on Trash Contract
I understand and share the frustration that we are forced to endure such a huge increase in cost for no change in service. I would also like to address a concern regarding the way Municipal Solid Waste companies are approaching bids in ALL townships in NJ.
Some of the large collection companies are buying up smaller trash companies and creating a lack of competition. This results in ALL municipalities in NJ receiving fewer bids or, in this case, only one bid, and those bids are certainly higher than anyone municipality is comfortable with, knowing the financial effect it has on all residents. This is the same thing that happened in Delran. We received only one bid this year.
That kind of lack of competition for an essential service creates a REAL and serious long-term problem for Delran residents and everyone else in NJ. Therefore, I will be sending letters to our state representatives and reaching out personally to see if there is any way to stop this monopolistic behavior and allow for healthy and fair competition in the trash collection bid process.
I will do everything I can to continue to preserve the quality services to which our Delran residents are accustomed without allowing the costs of those services to create a financial burden.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for anything you need.
On Monday, June 21st, Councilman Lynn Jeney, Councilwoman Parejo, and I were honored to be invited to the Delran Police Department’s 2021 Award Ceremony. It was a great opportunity to show our support for the police and to see them honor one another for their outstanding accomplishments over the last year. In my continued effort to support the Delran Police Department’s inclusive, equitable and positive engagement with our community, I also presented an award for the first time.
After an already distinguished career in public service; from the Delran Emergency Squad to the Delran Fire Department, to law enforcement; Patrolman Michael Lynch contributes in a profound way to the positive impact that the Delran Police Department has on our entire Delran family. Patrolman Lynch has spent his entire career dedicating himself to this community.
When he transferred from the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department to our police department in April of 2020, Patrolman Lynch brought an aspirational level of community outreach experience and training with him to serve our residents.
It was my honor to present him with the first-ever Mayor’s Award – “For consistently demonstrating dedication and service to the community, and for improving outreach and engagement between the Police and the people of Delran.”
I would like to invite Delran residents to join us in congratulating the following officers who received awards:
Patrolman Michael Lynch
Exceptional Service Award
Detective Robert Fisher
Exceptional Service Award
Delran Police Department’s 2021 Officer of the Year
As some residents may already have heard, I have been working with Congressman Andy Kim and Councilwoman Virginia Parejo to bring a Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic to Delran. I am excited to announce that we will hold two Delran Vaccine Pop-Up Clinic Events at Calvary Church next month.
This will allow easy access for Delran residents as well as others in the surrounding river towns who have been unable to get a vaccine.
The First Doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available June 4th and 7th from 9 am-3 pm. Second Doses ONLY will be given June 25th and 28th.
We were lucky enough to be a part of Congressman Kim’s partnership with Rite Aid, which allowed us to choose the Pfizer vaccine, which is now available for everyone age 12 and up!
This is a great opportunity for the children in our community to get vaccinated before school lets out and summer camps and vacations begin!
I am also grateful to Delran School’s Superintendent Dr. Brostchul, who has offered to assist us in providing transportation options to residents who have been unable to get vaccinated due to being housebound.
April 12th marked the first 100 days for Councilman Lynn Jeney, and for Council President Tyler Burrell and myself in our new positions. Together with the rest of the Council, we have been pushing an aggressive agenda. Tyler has been focusing on the legislative agenda and I am working to further improve resident services. Together, we are aiming to improve how we communicate, what we say, and when this all happens.
Typically, government moves at a glacial pace, but when everyone works together toward the same positive goals, we get to see more immediate results. These are just some of the things we’ve already been able to do because of all the dedicated and talented people that surround me.
Residents have already seen some of the changes we’re making to the website. We are performing a major overhaul that started with our Public Works section and the launch of Recycle Coach. Now, Waste and Recycling Information is easier to understand and provides an accurate pickup calendar based on your address as well as a search option to learn how to dispose of nearly anything!
To make sure that every resident gets the right answer to their questions and that we, as Mayor and Council, are both transparent and informative, we established the Communication Committee to recommend ways to improve our resident communication. Council has adopted their recommendations and will be implementing them as soon as possible.
Council has updated the snow and parking ordinances, and other Township ordinances that are dated or no longer serve the community’s best interests.
We have started evaluating our zoning laws to allow cannabis in accordance with NJ state law.
Supporting Those Who Protect Us
First Responders always do a great job protecting us. Councilwoman Virginia Parejo, Councilman Marlowe Smith and I had the incredible experience of watching the Delran Fire Department conduct a LIVE BURN training situation.
On a freezing cold morning nearly the entire Council and I watched while the Delran Fire Department conducted Ice Rescue Training. Delran EMS had their watchful eyes on everyone involved, including Councilman Burrell who volunteered to be rescued from the frozen Swedes Lake.
In support of our First Responders, Council and I attended the Delran Defenders (Delran Police, Fire and EMS) annual Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics. And yes, Tyler Burrell ran under the ice cold water along with the others.
In cooperation with Council, I have worked with and supported their decisions to:
Prioritize open space by approving the addition of a ballot question to extend the local open space tax in the upcoming General election.
Establish a Tree Ordinance Committee to draft a new ordinance that holds developers accountable for leveling acres of woods. The new law will require compensation to a “tree bank” so we can replant trees throughout the community.
Introduce a budget with a zero tax increase while maintaining all programs or services.
Organize and authorize a significant road repaving program with PSE&G and NJAW.
Welcome Community Solar, who will install solar panels on warehouses and provide relief in the cost of electricity to low-to-modern income families.
Work with and welcome a new Amazon facility to Delran.
I look forward to continuing the fast paced momentum of our first 100 days as we move Delran into an even better future. This is just a preview for a few things coming next:
Recreation and Sports
Council President Burrell, our engineers, Superintendent of Public Works, Township Administrator, the President of the Delran AA and I reviewed the current problems with our ball fields.We have millions of dollars of fields and it is time that we develop a real and proactive plan to address the current field conditions and develop field maintenance procedures, to address the flooding problems and turf resurfacing, and dramatically improve the long term experience for anyone using our fields.
Additionally, I have started looking at the condition of all of the parks and recreation areas in Delran township. We will be working this Spring with Senator Singleton’s office and the Delran Green Team to clean up the parks and recreation areas. This is an opportunity for Delran students to get community service hours, and will give families with younger children more options to get outside in the fresh air after being cooped up during this past year of the pandemic.
We will also continue to increase commercial redevelopment. As we move forward, we will look at ways to revitalize sections of our town that need it, and some very exciting things are already in the works. You will begin to see empty and vacant commercial properties begin to be utilized again.
Finally, despite the pandemic, I have been fortunate to meet with many residents in person over the last few months to talk about the things that are most important to them in our community. I really enjoy that time. I hope that we will be able to meet in larger groups soon.
In the meantime, I want you all to know that if there is anything anyone in our Delran family needs, I will do everything possible to ALWAYS be available.
I also want to thank the Council and our staff for all the work they do every day. None of what’s happening would be possible without their hard work. We are so fortunate to have so many dedicated people working for our Delran community.
The Delran Township Police Department reminds residents that you can help prevent theft by rolling up windows and locking their vehicles. There has been an increase in reported thefts of items left inside vehicles, and overwhelmingly these are vehicles left unlocked.
Typically, criminals will simply try to open the door to a vehicle and if it is locked, they just move on rather than smashing a window and drawing attention.
Additionally, here are some important things to remember to avoid being an easy target:
Park your vehicle in your garage, driveway, or under a streetlight.
Remove all loose items of value such as loose change, cell phones, laptops, jewelry, sunglasses, purses, etc. from inside the car and lock them in the trunk. Better off, don’t leave them in the car at all!
Close all windows, including vent or wing windows and sunroofs.
Do not attach personal information to your keys, leave a GPS, or mail with your address on it in your vehicle;
NEVER leave your garage door opener in your vehicle.
Never leave a key fob in your vehicle.
Never leave vehicles unlocked or idling unattended, even if you are dashing into a home or store.
Lock your doors every time you leave your vehicle and activate your anti-theft device.
Please look out for one another. If you notice your neighbor’s car is unlocked or valuables are easily visible, remind them to lock their cars and take their valuables.
If you see someone walking around trying to open car door handles, report it to the Delran Police Department immediately.
Polar Bear Plunge
It was a pleasure to watch the Delran Defenders get together last week for the Polar Bear Plunge! This was a fun event for the benefit of the Special Olympics!
We are always #DelranProud of our First Responders and the incredible work they do serving the community, and it was great to spend some downtime with everyone and see the camaraderie that exists between these groups!
Thank you to Lt. Jim Mitchell who organizes the Plunge for the Defenders, Delran Police, Fire, and EMS for inviting us to join you today! Thanks to County Deputy Director, Commissioner Dan O’Connell (Delran resident), Council President Tyler Burrell, Council Vice President Tom Lyon. Councilman Lynn Jeney for spending time with the group!
During my remarks at last night’s Public Meeting, I discussed a few events going on in our area.
Please see all the links provided if you wish to participate or learn more. Stay tuned to this page and social media for more updates and information regarding local events and activities going forward!
THE DELRAN DEFENDERS, a team of Delran Emergency Responders will be meeting at the Delran Fire House (Station 2) on Chester Avenue, March 20th at Noon– to participate in a NEW version of the Polar Bear Plunge this year.
The Delran Defenders have participated in this event which raises money for Special Olympics New Jersey for the last 15 years, but this year’s plunge has gone virtual!
The Defenders will be assisting the Delran Fire Department in a training exercise by running through a shower of ice-cold water!
March is Women’s History Month! I would like to invite residents to join in celebrating the remarkable contributions of women from many different backgrounds and cultures throughout history and today!
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy will be hosting a series called “Monday Mothers” which brings together groups of mothers to discuss the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on motherhood and includes topics such as virtual schooling, navigating career changes, work/life balance, and mental health. The event begins March 8th at 7 p.m. and runs through March 29th at 7 p.m. Information on how to register can be found at facebook.com/AswCarolMurphy
Kill the Lanternflies: Even though it is freezing cold, we are quickly heading into warmer weather. You can help stop the lanternfly infestation by destroying the eggs before they have a chance to hatch. Egg clusters can be found on trees, houses, cars, or any other flat surface, and look like clumps of mud. Scrape them into a Ziploc bag and pour some alcohol or hand sanitizer in the bag.
Students who need to log in-person community service hours can actually get paperwork signed for participation for destroying the eggs in their neighborhoods and local parks and visiting the Burlington County Volunteer Opportunities page: http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/1443/Volunteer-Opportunities