Municipal Complex Update April 2021 – Open by Appointment; See You Soon!

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It’s been awhile since I’ve given a municipal complex update. I’ll have to admit, once we moved into the new building in December, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief yet there was also a feeling of having to quickly to pivot no longer focus on “the big move,” but to then focus on finishing up the many remaining construction tasks in the new building, and starting on what we call “Phase 2,” which refers to the demolition of the old municipal buildings, grading and paving of the new parking lot. The pace has not slowed down, it’s just different. 

Currently, the developer is facing difficulty getting asbestos-laden stucco off of the exterior of the building; buildings built decades ago when asbestos was prevalent in construction need to be demolished very carefully, so as to not disrupt the asbestos and have it fly into the air. Remediation is carefully monitored by environmental experts, and methods are often dictated by the state of New Jersey and even the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, site crews are using dirt to build up the elevation of the old Town Hall site to bring it closer to level with the elevation of the new building, before the lot can be further graded and paved. Exterior punch list items are being finished up. [See video below]

While COVID has put a damper on us being able to open to the public en masse, we have been conducting business with our residents via phone, email, and in-person appointments as needed. Our library is also open for curbside pickup. We still do not have a certificate of occupancy for the new building, as we are waiting for the state elevator inspector to come and give our elevator a passing grade. We are also waiting for the proper installation of a pedestal outside the front doors that would provide for ADA (Americans With Disabilities Access) access through the automatic doors. We are hoping those issues are resolved in the next few weeks so that we can begin opening more for our residents, yet still on a limited basis to keep both our employees and our residents safe. 

Our staff is busy putting plans for reopening into place. Meanwhile, I would like to report that we will “officially” be opening for business by appointment only beginning Monday, May 10! All in-person Township business will be conducted in the main room off the lobby to your left as you walk into the building. 

What does this mean?

Library: The library continues with curb side pickup until we have a full building CO to allow the public in. Holds can be placed on items in the library’s catalogue and ILL requests can be placed. The book drop at 29 Park Avenue is now open, to the right of the front door. Items are still being quarantined for 2 days before being checked in. Hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:15 am-3:45 pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:15 am-7:45 pm by appointment (Call 908-464-9333, x1). Please check the library’s website here. 

Tax Collector: Our Tax Collector Rachele will now be sitting down in the main lobby Monday-Wednesday-Fridays from 10 am-12 noon to collect tax payments, answer your questions about the Senior Freeze, and help you in any other way you may need. Meanwhile, residents can always drop off tax payments in the red Santa mailbox inside the vestibule in the front doors at the new Town Hall. 

Clerk: Most of the business residents can do with the clerk can be done online, on the Clerk’s web page here, including but not limited to: cat/dog licenses, commuter parking permits, peddler licenses, vital statistics, raffle licenses, getting on the “No Knock” list and more. Any in-person appointments with the clerk can be made by emailing [email protected] or call (908) 464-2700 x2114.

Construction/Zoning/Tree Inspections: Since the onset of COVID, many of our Construction Department transactions and Zoning requests have gone virtual. Inspections can be scheduled online, residents can apply for tree and deck permits, find out information about setbacks, etc.  The following procedures are just a few that have been implemented to streamline the construction/engineering/zoning depts:

Spatial Data Logic (SDL) via our Website

  1. Scheduling of building department inspections 
  2. Accept online payments for building, engineering, health and zoning modules
  3. Accept specific zoning applications online (tree, shed, fence, generator, etc.)
  4. Prepare engineering reviews with Township Engineer comments 
  5. Online road openings
  6. Record and process payments for zoning applications, including Planning Board
  7. Request and schedule tree inspections 
  8. Ability to email building permits to resident/contractor using e-signature 

Website

  1. We’ve uploaded all necessary documents pertaining to coverage and setbacks in order for residents/contracts to determine if they are within Township ordinance guidelines
  2. Created and posted hyperlinks to the DSL portal on zoning and building pages for residents and public to view permit status, permit history and plan review comments
  3. Updated permit matrix that lists all the necessary building dept forms pertaining to various projects
  4. Update and upload guidelines on decks, swimming pools, etc.

Residents can always drop off permit applications and payments in the black box with the yellow lid inside the vestibule. They can also call the Construction Office at 908-464-2700, x2121 to arrange an in-person transaction.

Recreation

Information about all Recreation programs is online on the department’s website here. You can find the 2021 Spring Programs booklet, Teen Scene Travel Camp 2021, Tennis and Pickleball permit and court information, senior Bingo and fitness and more. If you need to pick up a permit, drop off payment or conduct another transaction, please arrange it by emailing Director Carolyn George at [email protected] or calling 908-608-8575 (temporary phone number). Please check the Township website for updates contact information, BerkeleyHeights.gov. 

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