MONTCLAIR, NJ – Despite the lifting of some COVID restrictions by Governor Phil Murphy, the Township of Montclair council met online as usual for its June 1 conference meeting. The reunion coincided with the start of Pride Month, honoring non-heterosexual Americans, and rightly so, two talking points at the end of the reunion involved expanding non-heterosexual rights in Montclair. Although both were scheduled for a first reading of the ordinances on June 22, General Councilor Peter Yacobellis insisted that both be voted on at first reading at this meeting rather than later. One ordinance requires unisex public toilets, while the other imposes non-discriminatory hiring practices by township contractors against their employees, township employees or job applicants.
Public feedback regarding both ordinances was uniformly positive, with callers expressing support for the ordinances to demonstrate Montclair’s inclusive values and its welcoming of new residents and visitors. Resident Kate Simmons thanked Councilor Yacobellis for leading these ordinances, but he was quick to point out that Mayor Sean Spiller and Council must also thank the teamwork involved.
When Councilor Yacobellis proposed that the two ordinances be presented immediately rather than three weeks later, First Ward Deputy Mayor / Councilor William Hurlock expressed caution about the toilet ordinance, saying that ‘he had not had time to review the entire ordinance and was reluctant to vote to present it before doing so. Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings feared the public had not been adequately educated about the toilet ordinance, saying a vigorous effort to educate people was needed before a first reading vote.
Subscribe to the Montclair newsletter
Our newsletter provides local news you can trust.
You have successfully subscribed to the TAPinto Montclair newsletter.
Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager had specific questions about the toilet ordinance. She asked Advisor Yacobellis about gender-specific toilets, and he replied that companies would still be able to keep them. In response to his question about enactment, he said the ordinance would follow standard procedure and go through a 20-day process to be promulgated, as the Rent Control Ordinance was supposed to have, followed by ‘a period of 180 days public entities would have time to come into compliance. He admitted that places of worship were exempt, acknowledging the hostility some places of worship would have towards such mandatory rules, and he was concerned about how the Supreme Court, with its arch-conservative makeup, could enact any public legislation on unisex. toilet for review if a cult takes legal action based on the restriction on religious freedom. Councilor Yacobellis said he did not want to offer such openness by requiring places of worship to comply, although he added that places of worship could register and comply. As it turned out, several members of the Montclair Unitarian congregation called to express their support for the ordinance.
Mayor Spiller thought it was reasonable to move the toilet ordinance forward as soon as possible, and Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams thought it would be easy to manage, as most public places have a toilet that can already be used by anyone. However, Councilor Cummings, still not convinced the public had been sufficiently educated, voted against the passage at first reading, while Deputy Mayor Hurlock abstained. Mayor Spiller and the four other councilors voted yes. The ordinance is subject to further scrutiny and tightening before it gets a second reading vote. However, the ordinance on non-discriminatory hiring was adopted unanimously at first reading.
In a public comment, resident William Scott of the Montclair Housing Commission expressed concern that the Landlord / Tenant Housing Committee has been asked to no longer mediate disputes between landlord and tenant. . He wanted to know how and why this development had happened, and Mayor Spiller asked Scott to refer township lawyer Ira Karasick for more information. Karasick also explained to General Councilor Robert Russo the provision of a second reading order for a vote that evening demanding cash contributions to the Affordable Housing Fund from developers to make a housing unit affordable for the municipalities of the Montclair region, the payment required being $ 197,391. He said the payment applies when a developer, for example, needs to produce 2½ units of affordable housing out of a larger number of units supplied. The promoter could contribute to the fund for the half unit, since a physical fractional unit cannot be provided. The council adopted this ordinance unanimously.
The board also plans to adopt an extension of the rent freeze at its June 22 meeting, extending it until September 30. Housing activist Ahava Felicidad called again to express concern that landlords are not respecting the freeze and that Montclair Council and residents need to be more vigilant, and Mayor Spiller assured housing activist Toni Martin that the township attorney’s office was diligently pursuing the township’s efforts in court to enact the rent control ordinance passed on April 7, 2020.
Other members of the public, including local leader and activist Abraham Dickerson, called for efforts to reform the police that allow for the creation of a police review board to produce greater transparency. Resident Frank Rubacky commented on the fire department’s shared service contract with Glen Ridge, saying the latest two-year contract “essentially gave Glen Ridge two years of free fire service,” with a payout bonus. signing of $ 200,000 in cash. Councilor Russo said the contract was a model for shared service agreements, and suggested that the contract negotiated in 2011, while he was not a board member, could have resulted as he did. due to competition from Bloomfield.
Rubacky also said a pending disabled parking ordinance, including the creation of a disabled spot on the south side of Bloomfield Avenue from a point 213 feet west from Seymour Street to a point 20 feet west of it, should in fact be from a point 213 feet Seymour Street to a point 24 feet west of it, saying the math was wrong. Council unanimously adopted the ordinance with the understanding that the length of the parking spaces can be corrected in an adjustment.