Highlands has me scratching my head ... again ... & often

Love what Highlands Mayor Carolyn Broullon said at the end of the council meeting last week, but it does make me wonder why this is the first time she’s ever said it. The Mayor told the rest of the elected officials there are two things that she’d like see come up at the next meeting, and wanted council members to think about them, review options, and have enough information so they can make changes if they want.

What a great idea! It also gives residents a hint on what council is thinking about doing in some cases, so they, too, can talk to their elected officials and come up with some ideas.

The two ideas the Mayor said will be coming up are considering a change of time for council meetings, and taking some strong action to either let well behaved dog owners back in parks or impose heavy fines on those who shame themselves and the town they love by not picking up after their dogs. Great ideas, great to let folks have input, great to have many minds think of options. As far as council times go, one of the options under consideration is a 7 p.m. meeting for the public, then the closed executive session afterwards to make it more convenient for residents.

Love the forward thinking and that makes me wonder as well. At the same meeting, one of those five…yes five, they are still adopting an awful lot of new laws in Highlands, they’re up to a couple of dozen since January…..public hearings on a new law had to do with parking permits for residents on certain streets so they can be assured of a place near their own homes when coming home from a tough day at work. They had an ordinance ... then they didn’t want it ... so they introduced yet another ordinance, this time to repeal it!

But even before the public hearing on the new ordinance, which, of course, taxpayers had paid to have written or at least reviewed by an attorney as well as advertised ... the Mayor announced that the council members had all decided to vote against it anyway. Huh?

They introduced the ordinance ... they advertised for the public hearing ... it was on the agenda ...but they made it clear before the public hearing they had already decided to vote against it ... Unanimously!

Not one Council-Member at the meeting said a word.

The Mayor explained they all decided to vote against it after they had all had several meetings with the Chief of Police. He’s certainly a nice guy ... certainly amenable to meeting with elected officials ... certainly available during his workday and beyond…couldn’t they have talked to him before pouring money into something they decided not to do before even the public hearing?

And I also wonder, and don’t like as much, why no one at all questions the fact the Mayor owns a business and a building in the commercial district of Bay Avenue. Yet she has a vote on whether marijuana shops or anything else to do with the commercial district on Bay Avenue just like every other council-member ... Isn’t that a conflict of interest? or at least the appearance of one? Not that I think the Mayor is going to lease her pet store to someone who wants to sell cannabis, or wants to open the shop herself, but it does seem like a huge conflict to have her make decisions on what’s going in the area where she is personally involved.

Has the attorney really looked at that and given an opinion?

There’s little being said about the new borough hall…heck, I don’t even know how close to it a marijuana shop can be opened …but requests for proposals are now out for a construction manager for it. That sounds great on the surface, but reading the finer print, it’s not a construction manager they’re seeking, but a construction management company. Which means it isn’t one guy totally in charge, but he as well as other guys in the same company. They’re doing it in the right order, though, which is a great thing, because it’s the construction manager who should be looking over all those plans before bids for the work are sought. And it should be a construction manager who has no interest whatsoever in the architectural or construction company. And let’s hope there will be a clause in the contract, which doesn’t seem to be available to see, that the borough won’t have to pay for any change orders that pop up during construction. That always gets so expensive!

Cheers to the Mayor for citing Tommy Elliott and naming his birthday Tommy Eliott Day in Highlands as one small measure, done in Atlantic Highlands as well, to recognize the man who has been so much a part of the lives and futures of so many musically and non-musically inclined kids, people at St. Agnes Church, and so much more. Cheers also for signaling out and reading a letter praising Highlands Police for not one but two trips to OLPH Church during early morning mass to help a resident in need of immediate health care. It does not make me wonder, but makes me appreciative how fortunate Highlands is to have the thinking and considerate police officers to answer every call. Cheers too to the First Aid Squad since these volunteers have lives of their own but still do as much as they can to help others. One of many things that make it such a great place to live.


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