Warehouse Update: Exxon does a focus group. How about lots of affordable housing?

While it’s not clear whether ExxonMobil is still pursuing plans to build massive warehouses on its roughly 800-acre corporate headquarters site in Clinton Township, the company seems to be planning to build something. On March 20, Exxon conducted a focus group meeting of around 10 township residents who participated in an “important discussion which will help guide ExxonMobil on the future of their property located in the [sic] Clinton Township.”

It is unknown whether the mayor or township council are aware of the focus group meeting. It is unknown whether Mayor Brian Mullay is still holding secret talks with Exxon.

What’s to be done on the Exxon site?

exxon-focus-groupIn the past two years Exxon has been told by large numbers of citizens that they oppose multiple proposals by the company to sell its property to warehouse developers, one of which was planning in excess of 4 million square feet of warehouse space.

Sometime last year, a State of New Jersey open-space funding source reportedly started negotiations with Exxon to acquire and preserve the bulk of the property. The site is desirable for preservation for, among other things, its prime farmland and wildlife habitat.

Who decides?

Residents from around the township were contacted by phone by a representative who said she was with “National Focus Group.” Later they received an e-mail with details about the meeting, which was held at TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Clinton on Wednesday evening, March 20, attendee Gerry Boylan told ExMayor.com. (The e-mail did not come from the firm’s domain but from a Gmail address.)

Participants were told Exxon “wants to get rid of 500 acres” of its property and were asked what they would like to see constructed. When a question was raised about limestone beneath the property, the facilitator said the limestone area is small.

The facilitator did not disclose negotiations about preservation of the land or that option.

Focus groups are commonly used to create “data” that can be used to later suggest “this is what people say they want.” Sure is easier than taking a project plan to the planning board!

Do you prefer red, or green?

A site map of the property was displayed and attendees were given red and green sticky dots and asked to place green dots on the map to indicate areas where they would prefer to see development and red dots on areas where they think there should be none.

An attendee took a photo of the map with permission of the facilitator. “Out of Scope” indicates areas where Exxon’s own buildings stand and areas the company does not plan to develop .


During discussion, attendees asked about use of the site for office space and scientific or research facilities. Some attendees said they opposed warehouses because they would generate enormous numbers of truck trips. Two attendees said they wouldn’t mind “affordable housing” if it were for moderate-income, but not for low-income, residents.

An affordable housing “solution?” Shhh…

Among the most profitable development projects in New Jersey today are warehouses and affordable housing.

The facilitator did not mention that preservation of the land is an option, but did suggest that attendees should not discuss the focus group meeting with anyone.

It seems Exxon may be queuing up a massive affordable housing proposal that would be presented as the answer to a forthcoming enormous new “obligation” that may be assigned to the township. It would require a change of use of the site by the planning board.

In multiple settlement agreements over recent years the mayor and council have committed Clinton Township to approve and build hundreds of new affordable housing units. (See Mayor Higgins’ 51-second, 805 housing-unit massacre and Fake News: Amended settlement is a “win-win” with less “financial risk”! (NOT!). Recent state legislation suggests Clinton Township’s new obligation will be in the thousands. (See video.)

Plans for any development would have to conform to the township’s zoning, or Exxon would have to apply for use variances. The site is constrained by large limestone deposits which would limit development. The site is also constrained because it is within the Highlands Planning Area, particularly because Clinton Township has opted to conform to the Highlands Regional Master Plan.

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There’s nothing affordable about New Jersey’s $multi-billion housing plan

Additional reading:

“Affordable” Housing Sprawl: Part 1

“Affordable” Housing Sprawl: Part 2

“Affordable” Housing Sprawl: Part 3

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Citizens groups notch wins against Warehouse Monsters – for now

warehouse monsterIn Hunterdon County’s Union Township a citizens’ group forced a warehouse developer to back off in the face of massive public opposition — for now.

Warehouse developers and associated big landowners are swarming Hunterdon and Warren Counties, launching plans to unleash Warehouse Monsters west across New Jersey.

But local citizens’ groups are already winning battles against these carpetbaggers and against local elected officials that seem to be advancing the developers’ agendas against their own towns’ interests.

Groups in Clinton Township and Union Township in Hunterdon County, and others in Warren County, are already working together to coordinate defending their towns from the Warehouse Monsters.

A win in Union Township — for now

The Union Township group, UnionCan, just notched a win (see Hunterdon residents win battle over massive Route 78 warehouse development – for now). It seems Union Township Mayor David DeGiralamo was just telling UnionCan organizers that the warehouse can’t be stopped — and now he’s suddenly celebrating because UnionCan stepped in to thwart the warehouse while the mayor sat back waiting for the project to be approved.

Why do towns need mayors when residents have to do all the fighting to save their towns?

As citizen opposition in Union Township quickly exploded, SGS Perryville Development, the applicant for 700,000 square feet worth of warehouses in two buildings off Route 78, withdrew its application from the planning board. UnionCan did an exemplary job of it. Kudos to them.

However, we all know this isn’t the end of it. The developers will be back to push their warehouses. They have already revealed they’re not going away. They’ve already been back. And, shockingly, mayors are either failing to block them or tacitly facilitating these warehouse plans.

A win in Clinton Township — for now

In October 2022 outraged residents of Clinton Township beat back Mayor Brian Mullay’s attempt to give Exxon a public forum to explain why the township should alter its no-warehouse zoning. The goal: to allow Exxon to build a 4 million square foot facility that would be the third largest in North America.

Faced with angry citizens waving zoning ordinances that forbid warehouses on the Exxon property, the mayor quickly surrendered and congratulated himself for “stopping” the plans.

Was that a win against warehouses?

How many times will Exxon’s Warehouse Monster return?

Just a year later, Mayor Mullay brought Exxon back for another bite at the forbidden apple. To the apparent surprise of the council, he sponsored a massive September 27, 2023 council meeting at a school auditorium where he let Exxon do what it tried to do last year: treat residents to a “listening session” that attendees immediately criticized as a one-sided pitch for… warehouses.

Humiliated by their erstwhile sponsor the mayor, Exxon left the meeting with nothing. A win for the protesters. For now.

When will Mullay and his silent advisors get it?

It’s not over

After residents at that meeting roundly rejected Exxon’s warehouse a second time, there is little doubt Mullay will bring Exxon back for a third try.

Likewise, Mayor DeGiralamo will find himself called upon to give the Union Township developer another crack at their warehouse project. It’s what weak elected officials do.

There’s just too much money on the line for the developers to stop.

Citizen groups organize: What you can do

In the meantime, it’s clear the citizens’ groups of more towns are banding together, preparing for the next wave of Warehouse Monsters.

Citizens need to recognize that there’s a lot of money on the line. The warehouses will be back. Citizens whose towns have zoning that prohibits warehouses need to step up:

  • Attend all your town’s council or committee meetings (switch off with friends, but be there).
  • Ask each member of the governing body what their position is on warehouses and make them say it on the record. Ask at every meeting.
  • Ask whether any town official is in discussions with developers or landowners about  warehouses. Ask at every meeting. In town after town, savvy developers keep up the full-court press on weak officials, even when your officials tell you, “Oh, don’t worry, this plan is dead in the water…”
  • Demand transparency. Insist your town officials disclose matters of concern to the public — and hold them to it.
  • Form a study group: read and understand your town’s master plan and zoning ordinances. Some of your neighbors are probably knowledgeable. Tutor one another.
  • Monitor meeting agendas and review minutes of your council, planning board and zoning board meetings. These documents are available on your town’s website.
  • Keep talking to your neighbors. Don’t become complacent. That’s when development plans are slipped into the process — and it may be hard to stop them at that point.
  • Get to know the groups fighting warehouses in other nearby towns. Work together — this is now a regional threat. If one town permits a warehouse, all towns are next.

Start now: Take over your town government

Some of the best elected officials go bad. They start to hob-nob with special interests. They get lazy. They get sloppy. Power goes to their heads. You’ll see this when you realize they’re not telling you everything and when they pop surprises. Far too many politicians run unopposed and are thus shoe-ins for re-election every year. This is the single biggest threat to local democracy and local government.

Citizens’ groups are enjoying some wins. For now. For real change, they need to take over their town governments.

Find out who’s up for re-election in 2024.

The best way to stop warehouses, ultra-high density housing developments and other undesirable projects is to elect mayors and councils that will serve you, not special interests. The only way to get the representation you want is to run good candidates to change your local government.

And the best way to run good candidates is to start planning campaigns for the November 2024 elections now. Because the Warehouse Monsters are just getting started, no matter what anyone tells you.

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Don’t like Exxon’s plans? Here’s what you can do

exxon's plansMayor Brian Mullay either doesn’t know what ExxonMobil is going to “present” to the public at the big September 27, 7 p.m. council meeting, or he’s withholding the information from the community.

It’s hard to say which is worse.

What’s clear is that he wants you to show up.

Some people are intimidated and feel awkward speaking up at public meetings. Like all council meetings, this one is governed by New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act. The OPMA (N.J.S.A. 10:4-12) guarantees you the right to speak during a defined public comment section. You are not required to answer questions from anyone on the dais when you speak. Just remember to be civil and polite.

The mayor said Exxon wants feedback on the future of the property. That is, what do you want on the property? Clinton Township already has land use ordinances that define what Exxon may and may not build on its property:

Warehouses and housing are not permitted.

Some of what is permitted: Business offices, medical offices, child care centers, nursing homes, hotels, laboratories, and data processing centers. Exxon is permitted to use its land accordingly.

It’s very likely Exxon wants to wheel and deal for something the zoning does not allow. Otherwise, it would just submit an application to the planning board.

Assuming you disagree with any non-permitted uses that Exxon proposes, it’s very easy to answer the question:

What do you want on the property?

If you’re going to go the meeting, you should speak and tell Exxon and the mayor and council what you want. You can tell them to stick to the rules:

“The citizens and officials of Clinton Township have invested a lot of time, money, thought and effort in defining our land use wishes in our land use ordinances. Our ordinances have a presumption of validity. They are proven to be legally defensible.

“So, Exxon, its managers, lawyers and planners already know what I want on the Exxon land. So do the mayor and council. I want no wheeling and dealing. I want what our zoning regulations permit on the Exxon property.

“I welcome Exxon to submit a development plan that is fully conforming to our zoning. That is what I want. And I fully expect my township officials not to grant any exceptions to any non-conforming application.”

Short version:

“I want ONLY what our zoning regulations permit on the Exxon property. Stick to the rules.”

If you are asked not to repeat what other members of the audience have already said, your response is also very easy:

“The Open Public Meetings Act guarantees me the right to say what I want no matter who else has already said it.”

Every person’s comment goes into the record. The more, the better, even if many are the same.

Your public comments matter.

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Exxon’s Big Mystery Meeting: Do you want warehouses or more affordable housing?

Let’s play a guessing game. What’s Exxon going to do at its big presentation next week?

Mayor Brian Mullay has been talking in secret with Exxon for a year and a half about development of its 800 acre property. A 4 million square foot warehouse was blown out of the water in October 2022 when the mayor was reminded it’s prohibited by Clinton Township’s zoning, and also by the Highlands Regional Master Plan.

exxons-mysteryExxon’s property is zoned for research, office and light manufacturing (ROM) and for various associated structures related to that. So Exxon can build something. Surely the mayor knows Exxon’s wishes — but he isn’t talking. It’s a secret.

What’s not a secret is that Exxon has also been talking with open space and farmland preservation funding sources connected to the State of New Jersey. Reportedly, the State has offered Exxon $10 million for all of the property that Exxon does not need for its operations — something like 700 acres that would be preserved as farmland and open space.

So, why is Exxon still proposing to develop 100 of those acres? Why doesn’t Exxon take the money and run? The State has reportedly put the $10 million on the table and is ready to deal. Exxon has reportedly stopped talking. Why?

One might guess simple corporate greed.

What’s Exxon going to propose next Wednesday?

It seems Exxon is trying to optimize its win. That is, to have its cake and eat it, too. It wants the $10 million and it wants to build.

On September 27 the mayor is sponsoring a big mystery meeting at the Clinton Township Middle School auditorium, where Exxon will supposedly disclose to the council and the public what it’s proposing. The question is, what?

Anyone familiar with the land development scene in this area of New Jersey knows there are two main development options that will produce the highest returns to a big landowner or developer:

  • Warehouses
  • Affordable housing

What do we know?

We know a few things.

  1. The kind of development Exxon is currently zoned for has long been dead in the real estate water. All one need do is drive along Routes 22 and 31. Vacant office, research and manufacturing space is going begging. (So is retail.)
  2. Warehousing is a hot market. Developers are suing towns to build more.
  3. In 2025, New Jersey will assign the 4th round of affordable housing obligations to all towns. Clinton Township’s obligation will likely be in the thousands of units. Developers are suing towns to build more.
  4. According to the mayor, the township has a “good relationship” with Fair Share  Housing Center — the private law firm masquerading as an affordable housing advocate. FSHC has been designated by the courts to sue hundreds of New Jersey towns and extort “settlement deals.” FSHC has been incredibly successful. FSHC is the source of all the massive new housing projects going up in Clinton Township.
  5. Clinton Township has donated — yes, donated — $45,000 to FSHC to cover legal costs the Center has incurred while suing the township. (Yes, you read that right.)

So it’s reasonable to speculate that Exxon wants to get approvals for warehousing or affordable housing. We’ll see if our guess is correct.

Is a squeeze play in the works already?

ExMayor.com isn’t going out on a limb to guess that Exxon will attempt a squeeze play on the township: Do you want warehouses, or do you want a huge housing development?

At the big meeting, Exxon may acknowledge it’s not zoned for warehouses, and propose building loads of affordable housing units on its property.

But as we’ve noted, Exxon’s zoning does not permit housing. This is where over a year of secret meetings with the mayor might pay off for Exxon. It’s not a stretch at all to guess that the mayor and council will “explain” to the community that, with Round 4 bearing down on the township, it sure would be smart to be ready in advance with a place to put massive numbers of affordable housing units.

And that’s how Exxon gets Clinton Township to change Exxon’s zoning for the single biggest housing project in 40 years — or perhaps ever. And Exxon is the hero.

How developers use the affordable housing trick

When a town negotiates an affordable housing settlement, it always involves rezoning for ultra-high density housing. While a new house in Clinton Township might require 8 acres, a FSHC settlement deal might require changing the zoning so that one acre will get 10, 15, 20 or more housing units.

Developers love this affordable housing trick. A town that would never let a builder put 20 houses on an acre will do it if it yields “needed” affordable housing.

This means Exxon’s “proposal” could be for 100 acres X 20 units — 2,000 units. The mayor and council have not been shy about justifying such densities in housing projects already underway. “We have no choice! If we don’t do this, the courts will force us to build even more units!”

Or, how about this poison?

If the township doesn’t want to swallow that threatened outcome, maybe a huge warehouse is not such a bad deal. While the Highlands Council would reject such a plan, Exxon can easily suggest the township change its zoning (as it does routinely) and simply withdraw from the Highlands Regional Master Plan — and the restriction against warehouses goes away. (“We had no choice! It was the better option!”)


Don’t want the warehouse? Exxon’s other proposal might be to sue Clinton Township under the Mount Laurel decision to force the development of 20 housing units per acre. Technically, only 20% would have to be “affordables.” The rest could be highly profitable market units. FSHC doesn’t care — especially if it’s working with Exxon to “help” Clinton Township “meet its new Round 4 obligation.”

Of course, if these are the “choices,” Clinton Township could just tell Exxon to go pound salt. The existing zoning allows Exxon to build research, office and light manufacturing facilities. The zoning is defensible.


exxons-big-mystery-meetingOf course, this is all speculation; an educated guess. Maybe Exxon will offer to plant banana trees or a nice community pool.

But when you consider that Mayor Mullay has been carrying water for Exxon a long time;  that Clinton Township has forgotten how to fight against forced affordable housing; that warehouses and affordable housing are the preferred ways for big landowners and developers to make money — you’ll see that Exxon’s solution may be to threaten the township and count on rezoning one way or the other.

Exxon can still collect $10 million for the rest of its land.

So, do you want warehouses, or more affordable housing?

It seems this mayor and council could justify either — then blame Exxon. They’d rather Exxon explain the choices, and you can offer your “comments and perspective” at this “listening session.”

Don’t like the outcome? Hey, they gave you a chance to provide your “comments and perspective.” And if things go south and Exxon threatens the township with a lawsuit, expect to hear the same old refrain: “We have no choice but to settle and let them build what they want.”

Or, maybe everything will just work itself out. That’s the mystery.

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Exxon: The mayor’s got a secret (again)

exxon secretEven after two humiliating blunders in 2022, Clinton Township Mayor Brian Mullay still doesn’t get it. His job is not catering to powerful special interests like ExxonMobil or state agencies. It’s protecting his town and the interests of his citizens and taxpayers. All he has to do is use existing township land use regulations to do it. Yet the mayor continues to be seduced by the intoxicating attention of special interests and developers that are always drooling at the township’s door for political favors.


The first humiliation was Mayor Mullay’s enthusiastic submission in 2022 to the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, which deputized him as the official bearer of bad news about the permanent closure of Route 629, a critical road corridor linking east and west sections of the township.

Water Supply Authority officials easily impressed Mullay by awarding him a hard hat and giving him a tour of the Round Valley Reservoir dam that Route 629 traverses. Then they conferred on him a fantastical “security clearance” that he brandished when he explained to the public that the “reasons” for the road closure had to do with “dam security issues” he could not discuss publicly. Only he knew what these secret reasons were and “they satisfied me.”

Meanwhile, thousands of township and neighboring residents worked tirelessly for months to get the facts Mullay failed to obtain for himself. The Authority claimed U.S. Homeland Security wanted the road closed. But internal Authority documents obtained by citizens under the sunshine law, and a visit to the Authority by Congressman Tom Malinowski, revealed the only “secret” was that it was all untrue. After months of public protest the gates erected across Route 629 quickly came down and the road was reopened. It’s hard to say who was humiliated more: Authority Executive Director Marc Brooks, or the mayor.

Secret plans, secret deals at the top

Second was Mullay’s naïve agreement last October to allow ExxonMobil to regale the public with its plans for a 4 million square foot warehouse — the third largest in North America. This episode not only humiliated the mayor; it revealed and highlighted his stunning ignorance of zoning regulations and his willingness to be driven by special interests right past his obligations as mayor.

The township’s zoning code specifically prohibits warehouses on Exxon’s property, yet Clinton Township’s top official had been meeting secretly with Exxon about its warehouse plans for eight months during 2022.

Clearly, Exxon’s crack team of lawyers, engineers and planners know the township’s zoning code — that’s why they didn’t bring a non-conforming warehouse application to the planning board. Better to do an end-run around the regulations and get the mayor, who apparently didn’t know or didn’t care about the zoning code, to sponsor  a huge council meeting at a local school auditorium so Exxon could put on its show for the public. Better to take a chance convincing the public to support a waiver to the regulations for Exxon than to try this before the planning board.

In an embarrassing turn of events, the New Jersey Highlands Council notified Mullay it had learned about the scheme, and warned him a warehouse at Exxon would never be permitted. Humiliated once again by his failure to protect the rights of his citizens while kowtowing to Exxon, Mullay shamelessly announced the “good news!” that was old news he’d never bothered to read — the township’s zoning code and the Highlands Regional Master Plan. Chalk up a win! After months of “talks,” the mayor would call Exxon and cancel their big presentation!

If at first you fail, try the mayor again

Does that story sound familiar? Keep in mind — it happened a year ago. It’s happening again.

One would think the mayor learned not to cede control of the township council’s official pulpit — a council meeting — to an external special interest, but Mullay has once again done just that.

Undaunted by public opinion and two striking humiliations, Mullay has continued to meet with Exxon about its development plans. And just last week the mayor announced that Exxon has once again asked him to set up a big venue where Exxon will make a “presentation” to the public about its development plans — rather than make an application to the planning board.

And, once again, the mayor’s got a secret. He has not only endorsed Exxon’s “presentation” — he has categorically refused to disclose to the council what he learned about it in months of secret discussions. He wants the council to enter the meeting without any agenda or details from Exxon. He told them to “think of some good questions” — because he “doesn’t know” what Exxon will talk about.

It’s easy to conclude that Exxon instructed the mayor to keep everything a secret.

Manipulating the public and the council

We don’t know what deals the mayor may have made with Exxon, but we do know he’s easily impressed by powerful people who need someone to advance their special interests against those of the township’s residents.

A basic rule of business is, Never agree to a meeting without first getting a written agenda. It’s also said one should never go into a gunfight with just a knife. Mayor Mullay isn’t even bringing a knife to this fight. In fact, he’s leading the council into this meeting with both hands tied behind their backs by refusing to give them an agenda and details of Exxon’s forthcoming dog and pony show.

On his Facebook page the mayor says:

“This is strictly an opportunity for ExxonMobil to hear our community’s perspective on this important issue.”

One council member has noted that without a written agenda in advance, without knowing exactly what the issue is before the meeting, there’s no way for the council or the community to provide their perspective. An agenda and a written proposal are a must. Without these, the mayor’s invitation to this mystery meeting is a manipulation of the council and the public.

The mayor and Exxon have a secret

Manipulating the public (not to mention the council) into attending a mystery presentation by Exxon is a diversion by Exxon. Exxon wants the meeting because its plans do not conform with the land use regulations that are designed to protect the township. The mayor should disclose that Exxon needs the township to change the rules to suit its plans. Of course, that’s what was behind Exxon’s planned presentation in 2022. The company knew it could never get the warehouse project past the planning board. Now, as then, Exxon knows that a pitch to the public in the guise of a “listening session” at least gives its plans a chance — before it has to sue to get what it wants. One wonders how much of this the mayor grasps.

To those residents who are led to believe it’s a good thing to “give feedback” and to “comment” on Exxon’s mystery plans at a “listening session,” remember we have a planning board that has the services of lawyers, planners and engineers who are far more expert than the public at dealing with the sleight of hand of lawyers, planners and engineers that are behind the forthcoming Exxon presentation.

The mayor’s got a secret. But keeping secrets from the public at the behest of the Water Supply Authority, or Exxon, is not good government. Keeping secrets from the council is not good leadership. Walking everyone into a surprise is a mistake. It’s yet another mistake sure to blow up in Mayor Mullay’s face yet again.

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Mayor plays Exxon’s errand boy – again

Clinton Township Mayor Brian Mullay is back at it, conducting private, undisclosed, highly questionable meetings with ExxonMobil about land development plans that belong at the planning board.

Exxon“Let’s put on a show!”

A stunning off-the-cuff announcement by the mayor at last night’s council meeting seemed to take the rest of the council by surprise. The mayor said he’s agreed to Exxon’s request to let the company make a major land development pitch to the community.

The matter was not on the public meeting agenda. The mayor did not disclose any details of Exxon’s plans. He just carried Exxon’s water to the council.

Exxon has been talking to Mullay about its development plans for about 100 acres of its 800-acre property. So Mullay is sponsoring a special council meeting at a school auditorium, where the company can pitch and market its development plans outside the protective auspices of the planning board.

Mullay posted on Facebook today that Exxon “would like to make a presentation to the community in order to receive feedback on the future of [about 100 acres of] the property surrounding their existing facility.”

Mayor Mullay compromises himself

The private land-use meetings the mayor has had with Exxon are so inappropriate that, if Exxon were to actually submit a development application to the planning board, Mullay would have to recuse himself from the matter because his prior discussions with the applicant would be deemed prejudicial. He could thereby relinquish any responsibility for the outcome.

This is not the first time the mayor has revealed his naivete and management inexperience — and it’s not the first time Exxon has embarrassed him by casting him as its errand boy. Mullay also met privately with Exxon in 2022, when Exxon wanted to build what would have been the third largest warehouse complex in North America, in excess of 4 million square feet. The mayor apparently didn’t know township zoning specifically prohibits warehouses on ExxonMobil’s property — while he met with Exxon from February through October 2022. That was the first time the mayor agreed to let Exxon address the public off-site in a big auditorium. Mullay didn’t find out about the warehouse prohibition until he was contacted by the New Jersey Highlands Council, which warned a warehouse would never be approved.

Amidst an enormous public furor last October, Mullay quickly withdrew his invitation to Exxon. Everyone assumed this embarrassing episode was over. But Exxon was not done with the mayor. He has admitted the back-room meetings continued.

Switlyk asks the most important question

Upon the mayor’s “announcement” at last night’s council meeting, Councilwoman Amy Switlyk asked the most important question: When would the council receive an information package prior to the big meeting?

Mullay responded that no such information would be provided. He told Switlyk that she could ask her questions at the meeting. But, asked Switlyk, how can Exxon not disclose to the council in advance what the plans are? How could she and the rest of the council ask intelligent questions without a preview of the presentation? The mayor had no answer.

The mayor has scheduled this dog-and-pony show for September 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the Clinton Township Middle School Auditorium.  The problem is that this is another attempt by Exxon to subvert the development application process. The proper venue for such a presentation is the planning board — where the public would have the benefit of a formal process that’s designed to protect the public’s interests.

Sucker for another sham “public input meeting”

Anyone that has ever attended Hunterdon County “public input” meetings about the county’s plans for growth and development knows how this political sleight of hand works. The Commissioners promote these casual gatherings ostensibly as an opportunity for county officials to learn what the public wants. The meetings are so informal that any resulting “public input” can be used by the Commissioners as cover for whatever they’re planning. “The public had a chance to provide their valuable input, which we’ve taken into consideration.” And guess what? That input — which no one can verify — always supports what the county wants to do anyway. “This is what the public wants!”

The mayor posted on Facebook today:

“ExxonMobil will be present at the next meeting of the Mayor and Council to discuss some of their thoughts on potential options for the property and to hear comments from the public to help them determine next steps.”

ExMayor.com will award a gallon of used Exxon motor oil to any Clinton Township resident who believes their “comments” will in any way “help” one of the biggest, most powerful fossil-fuel companies “determine next steps” for its development plans.

There’s a place for this: the planning board

The proper venue for Exxon’s development pitch is the Clinton Township Planning Board, where the board and its professionals know better than Mayor Mullay what’s prohibited and what’s not. The purpose of the planning board is to apply Clinton Township’s land-use regulations in a fair, objective way to protect the township from opportunistic marketing presentations.

Exxon wants to circumvent the planning and zoning board process in the hope it can cut a deal by being able to point to “public input” in support of its highly questionable development plans. (Remember the 4 million square foot warehouse?)

The public should absolutely turn out en masse to express its comments — under the protective cover of the planning board. A “presentation to the community” by a corporate heavy hitter like Exxon will not be a casual, friendly, honest event. You can bet Exxon will orchestrate every second, every word, every picture of its presentation to get what it wants. Nothing it says will be legally binding.

Mayor Mullay: You work for Clinton Township, remember?

Mayor Mullay should shake off the naive, gaga mantle of “It’s always good to hear what they have to say!” — and instruct Exxon to take its “presentation” to the zoning and planning boards, which offer the township the safeguards necessary to keep the community out of harm’s way.

Mayor Mullay has once again embarrassed himself and reveals he’s not qualified to lead or manage Clinton Township. He’s a shoe-in, unopposed candidate for another term as mayor — and the community needs to look long and hard at how easy it is for special interests to manipulate his use of his powers. (The mayor’s poor judgment and inability to act first on behalf of the township was on display during the Route 629 debacle last year.)

Three things reveal that Exxon is disingenuous and attempting to manipulate the township:

  1. After its warehouse debacle, it continued to conduct back-room meetings with the mayor. Will it get its way this time?
  2. Exxon has not already provided a detailed copy of its presentation to the council. What are they hiding?
  3. More important, Exxon is once again cultivating the mayor to avoid the proper venue — the planning board. Why is that?

No more surprises: Follow the rules

Maybe Mullay knows what Exxon is going to spring on the public if it gets to put on its “show.” He’s not saying. Maybe the mayor is content with a surprise presentation. The council should not be.

Everyone should heed — and echo to the mayor — Councilwoman Amy Switlyk’s request: Give us a complete, written preview of the Exxon presentation before any meeting. It’s what Exxon would be required to do at the planning board.

Everyone should want to attend a public meeting about such a huge development proposal, but it should be in the venue that offers the community the most protections — the planning board — not on a stage for a dog and pony show where there are no guardrails.

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Posted in Exxon, Municipal | Comments Off on Mayor plays Exxon’s errand boy – again

Clinton Township: Forged signature on affordable housing?

affordable housingOne of Clinton Township’s several new affordable housing developments was due to start construction any day, on Route 31 North across the highway from Spruce Run Reservoir. An “inclusionary” project, it would include affordable units among regular “market” units to ensure it would be profitable for the builder.

It would take what might be a forged signature to make it happen. But first, let’s discuss what you need to know about Clinton Township’s methods of managing affordable housing projects.

Affordable housing roulette

According to a court filing by the township, the affordable housing developer, Ingerman, recently “indicated its desire to change the 146-unit inclusionary development” after the original plan received approval from the Clinton Township Planning Board.

The township has modified its affordable housing plans over the past few years so many times that it looks like a game of land-use roulette. New sites substituted for old sites. Numbers of units are altered. Developers are switched in and out. Work is duplicated and costs mount every time .

Every time changes are made, it seems the mayor and council try to hide the KA-CHING! sound that taxpayers might hear — by scheduling “special meetings” no one is likely to attend.

Never mind the scads of taxpayer dollars spent down the drain for the last affordable housing plan, the one before that, and the one before that. These plans require hours and hours of pricey time and work of lawyers, engineers, planners and other sundry “professionals” who love to make a good living.

No one has explained why Ingerman “desired” to eliminate all the profitable market units from the plan and to reduce the entire size of the project from 146 units to just 96. Sounds great, but what developer willingly shrinks an approved housing development because it’s good for the township?

What developer suddenly eliminates 66 highly profitable market units out of the goodness of its heart? Imagine the developer telling the township it has to rush a new ordinance so the developer can make less profit.

But that’s exactly what Ingerman did — and Mayor Brian Mullay and the council quickly scheduled a “special meeting” of the council at 1:00 p.m. June 27, 2023 to approve Ingerman’s changes by introducing an ordinance. The public will be allowed to comment on the ordinance at its second reading, when the council will also vote on approving it, on August 9.

But it’s not hard to imagine this mayor and council putting external interests ahead of their own constituents — and trying to keep it all quiet. They’ve scheduled quickie public meetings at odd hours before (e.g., May 6, 2021), whenever there’s an “affordable housing plan rush” to spend more taxpayer money on lawyers, planners and engineers.

While some of the township’s best, most senior employees say they have resigned citing poor office morale, poor management and uncompetitive salaries, the township’s budget for affordable housing work — legal, planning, engineers — seems as limitless as the council’s willingness to keep taxpayers in the dark.

Why a special meeting?

The day before the special meeting Township Administrator William Close explained in an e-mail that:

“Both the Township and the developer are under time constraints that require the revisions to be adopted by the end of August at the latest. The Council only meets once in August (August 9), so it is critical that the ordinance be introduced in time to hold the public hearing at the August 9 meeting.”

No explanation has been offered about why the revisions are being made — only that it’s critical and a rush.

Who’s driving the bus?

But this explanation has been thrown at the public again and again over the years. There’s always a rush that requires a special meeting at an odd time. An alternative explanation is obvious: Someone is not doing their job to properly manage what is probably the township’s #1 time and money suck: affordable housing plans.

Could this be because no one is driving this bus? William Close has been the township’s “contract administrator” — he’s not an employee; a consulting firm is renting him to the township — since June 2022, working part-time, three days a week, often from home, under a contract that council has renewed quarterly again and again.

If the mayor is the township’s CEO, then the administrator is the COO, responsible for day-to-day management and oversight of all departments and project. It seems affordable housing always winds up in crisis mode, and the township relies on “interim” temporary management that’s dropping stitches. (The township has had multiple interim administrators recently.) But who’s driving the bus?

The legal notice for the meeting

Such special meetings nonetheless require a legal notice, and the township issued one. It is the township Clerk that routinely prepares, signs and posts such notices.

The legal notice of the special July 27 meeting bares a conformed signature (also known as an electronic signature) of Carla Conner, the township Clerk:

However, Conner says she did not prepare the notice or sign it, digitally or otherwise. Nor, she says, did she authorize anyone else to sign her name. In fact, she says, she told the mayor she was never informed of the July 27 meeting and that in her opinion “the signature is a fraud.” She says she is very upset.

The question is, has Conner’s signature been inappropriately affixed to other township documents?

“We’ll take 8 hours a week”

Over two months ago, in early May, after 14 years’ employment with the township, Carla Conner resigned from her Clerk’s job for a better-paying position in Flemington Borough. She gave the township three weeks’ notice and offered to help transition a new hire into the job. Her last day was May 31. According to Conner, Clinton Township made no attempt to counter Flemington’s offer.

Nor, to her knowledge, was the township doing anything to fill the Clerk’s job. In New Jersey, the Clerk is a statutory position that requires a state license. That is, every town must have a Clerk to perform tasks not permitted to anyone else.

Conner started out as assistant to Clerk Donna Burham. Knowing Burham was going to retire in a few years, then-Administrator Marvin Joss and the Clerk formulated a succession plan — a career path for Conner. She received training from Burham, took classes and was fully prepared to take over as Clerk when Burham retired. Nothing of the kind was planned to replace Conner.

On June 12, Conner started her new job in Flemington. Meanwhile, the township had asked her as favor to work per diem eight hours per week for $35 an hour without benefits while it searched for a full-time clerk. Conner says she agreed, but only if she could do just limited tasks and only in the evenings. And only for a very short time. She would handle marriages, OPRA requests and sundry tasks, but she would not attend council meetings or handle meeting minutes. She says she expected to do this for just a few weeks. The council passed a resolution to make the hire on June 28.

Vacant jobs = $$avings

All towns advertise vacant Clerk jobs on the N.J. League of Municipalities’ job board. Clinton Township posted its vacant Clerk position on July 6, 2023 — almost two months after Conner gave notice. That’s over a month after her last day, and a week after it re-hired Conner per diem.

Hiring a new Clerk is the Administrator’s job, but it seems clear no one was really doing much, if anything, about it.

The township seems to have developed an interesting view of vacant jobs. When employees quit, “We’re saving money by not filling the job, or by hiring part-time contractors.” Or money is saved when a newly vacant job is “filled” by throwing a few thousand extra dollars at an existing employee to do work they don’t really have time (or skills or motivation) to perform adequately.

Is it any wonder employee morale has tanked? Where a department had two or three workers, some are down to one. There is no career path. Workloads become unbearable and the remaining employees work without management support.

It’s worth noting the Administrator of the past 12 months is a part-time, 3-days-a week contractor whose job was supposed to be temporary. Clinton Township, as one of the biggest, busiest towns in Hunterdon County, has always had a full-time Administrator, until the Higgins and Mullay administrations. Is it any wonder employee morale has bottomed out?

Is it “legit” or fraud?

When Conner complained to Mayor Mullay about using her signature without her knowledge or permission, he answered that he would consult township attorney Trishka Waterbury-Cecil. Conner says the mayor then conveyed the attorney’s response that because Conner’s name is preceded with /s/, “it’s legit.”

Adobe Systems is perhaps the leading purveyor of digitized documents, including electronic, or conformed, signature technology. On its website Adobe offers this advice to users (emphasis added):

What is an s-signature?
In the case of conformed signatures, which are another type of s-signature, the signer puts an “s” between two forward slash marks in front of their typed name (for example, /s/ Jimmy Doe). In fact, the s-signature name took its name from the conformed signature style.

Remember, the signature must be between forward slashes to make it valid. You must add an s-signature for yourself. Another party cannot add it.

We’re not lawyers

We’re not lawyers, so we consulted several respected legal websites, because the township’s behavior doesn’t add up.

Lawpath.com says this about signing someone else’s name (emphasis added):

When does this become illegal?
Under US law, falsifying a document is a crime. Forgery laws vary by state, but generally, signing a document as someone else without that person’s permission falls under this category as forgery. If the other person is unaware that you’re signing something for them and you’re gaining something, then you’re committing forgery. This is based on having the ‘intention to defraud’ someone. This applies even if you thought you had permission to sign something. It’s important to always have the permission of the person who you are signing on behalf of.

A word about ethics, integrity and common decency

When Carla Conner expressed dismay that her signature as a licensed New Jersey Clerk was used without her knowledge or permission, no one seemed to think it was a big deal. “It’s legit” was the last she heard, from the town attorney through the mayor.

Perhaps in some distant galaxy or legal world we mortals don’t understand, it’s all  legal. Perhaps Conner’s sincere professional and personal concerns don’t deserve another thought.

But, perhaps the way those concerns were handled, along with uncompetitive pay,  explains a lot about the low morale and employee attrition. Perhaps the loss of good employees and inept hiring and management practices explain quickie council meetings to address huge affordable housing projects that can cost taxpayers untold millions if they’re not managed skillfully and diligently.

Your chance to govern with questions

There is no transparency in government if people don’t ask questions.

If you don’t understand why Clinton Township is so easily letting a private developer drive changes to a massive “affordable housing” project, perhaps you’ll take the time to find out how your mayor and council and their administrator are running things.

You can show up on August 9, 7:00 p.m. at the regularly scheduled council meeting and ask why this project’s design is being changed — and why the township can’t keep its employees.

Public Safety Building
1370 Route 31 North – 3rd floor
Annandale, NJ 08801

Taxpayers can demand answers

You have a right to go to the microphone during the public hearing part of the meeting to ask:

  • why the plan has really been changed
  • how the changes might adversely affect the township
  • how much money the changes might cost the township
  • what the benefits might be to Ingerman, the developer
  • what municipal funds may need to be expended to support the project

According to agreements the township has already signed, you could ask what costs taxpayers could be on the hook for:

  • development costs Ingerman does not cover
  • federal subsidies Ingerman cannot obtain
  • a pedestrian crossing over Routh 31 North
  • water and sewer capacity for the development

Because the township has already agreed to forego property taxes on these units for 30 years, you might want to ask for the truth about the PILOT deal they signed (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) which cuts the schools out of tax revenues they would normally get for new students from the new development. You can ask for a pro forma that reveals how much your school taxes could go up as a result of the PILOT deal.

And that’s just the public hearing about changes to the affordable housing plan.


During the “regular” public comment period, you also have the right to ask the mayor and council:

  • why they’re paying exorbitant sums for a temporary, part-time Administrator for over a year
  • where their HELP WANTED signs are to replace the critical employees whose jobs they won’t fill
  • why they’ve allowed employee morale to slip to a new low
  • who is really running the township and driving critical decisions

It really is up to you

Or you could stay home and just complain your taxes keep going up, that you don’t get the municipal services you need, and that Clinton Township is going to hell in a handbasket. You could sit back and let the same people get re-elected automatically to those powerful council seats year after year after year because they run unopposed in every election.

You could also ask who signed former Clerk Carla Conner’s name to a legal notice without her knowledge or permission.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, Municipal | Comments Off on Clinton Township: Forged signature on affordable housing?

Hunterdon Commissioners scam the public with sham public hearing

sham public hearingWhat if the Hunterdon County Commissioners scheduled a public hearing but didn’t show up? What if Susan Soloway, Zach Rich, Shaun Van Doren and John Lanza were all M.I.A.? What if they sent just one commissioner and four stooges?

There’s a term for that kind of disrespect of government for constituents and we’ll share it later.

It was supposed to be the second of two legally required public hearings about the Hunterdon County Commissioners’ plans to sell the $5 million Solid Waste Transfer Station located in Clinton Township, a.k.a. the county dump. (Meeting calendar is here.)

A scam meeting notice

But the commissioners couldn’t be bothered to show up.

The first public hearing on the matter was held at the June 6, 2023 commissioner’s meeting. The commissioners were present to hear the public’s comments at that meeting.

The commissioners placed their routine legal public notice for the 5:30pm June 27 meeting in the same place on their website where they post all commissioner meetings. Around 40 citizens showed up, only to find a group of people sitting at the dais without the normal name plates. Only one was a commissioner, Jeff Kuhl. He sat at the center seat where the chair of the meeting sits — only he didn’t run the meeting.

In fact, Kuhl never said a word.

They’ll put it on their playlist

After a quick introduction of those on the dais (too quick to jot down), a woman to Kuhl’s left conducted the meeting. An audience member asked where the commissioners were. How would they participate in the discussion with the public about the disposition of a $5 million public asset?

How could they hear the public?

“They are not here. They will listen to the recording later to hear your public comments.”

We don’t do questions

She warned that those on the dais would not answer any questions. Pressed about this from an audience member, she repeated, “We will not answer any questions.”

The first speaker, long-time county resident and retired Editor-in-Chief of the Hunterdon Democrat, Curtis Leeds held up a report about the dump sale obtained from the county under the Sunshine Law. He asked who the author was because none was listed.

We don’t identify authors of reports

The leader of the meeting moved her chair back to confer privately with another person on the dais. Then she said they would not identify the author.

It was advertised as a public meeting of the commissioners to hear public comments — but who was doing the hearing (or listening)? One commissioner and four stooges.

A sneaky trick of politicians

Why should you care about any of this? The commissioners know your “public comments” at two legally mandated public hearings don’t really matter.

The commissioners know they don’t have to listen to a word you say.

All they have to do is hold two sham “hearings” where they hear nothing. 90 days after that second hearing they can do anything they want with that $5 million county dump and taxpayers will know nothing until the deal is done.

Oops! It’s a sham!

Hunterdon Commissioners always show up for a photo op

Dear reader, if you find the word “stooges” rude and inappropriate, bear in mind that 40 busy taxpayers showed up before the end of their workday to be heard by their elected commissioners — after a scam announcement of a meeting of the commissioners was advertised on the county website.

But the commissioners’ meeting was a sham. There was not a legal quorum of commissioners present.

Rude and inappropriate doesn’t begin to describe the behavior of the commissioners who who were absent — and the one present who didn’t participate.

“Circle jerk” best describes what those on the dais did late yesterday afternoon. But no harm done by this characterization — because their places on a dais had no nameplates to identify them. So who’s to be offended except citizens who were required to identify themselves before they spoke?

News Flash: Commissioners don’t need constituents

Speaker after speaker expressed irritation that the elected officials who scheduled the public hearing were not present to hear the public’s comments about the sale of a $5 million public asset.

The woman on the dais  invited people to submit questions to the clerk of the commissioner board. However, she said such questions might not be answered.

Bad business

It must be noted that at least two facts were raised by the public that strongly suggest:

A sale of the dump would violate New Jersey statutes, and

The “valuation” of the dump was made without “any financial or operating information or expense data from the current contract operators.” This despite a contractual obligation that the operator “will provide to the County each year an independent certified audit of its operations.”

So, on what are the commissioners basing their decision?

How county government works

What happens when elected officials scam their constituents into attending a public hearing without elected officials?

What happens when elected officials hang government employees out to dry all by themselves in front of constituents?

county commissionersThis “government in action” is known by an affectionate term here in New Jersey.

What happens when the commissioners deliver to constituents:

  • A scam “public notice” of a commissioner meeting.
  • A sham of a public hearing: The commissioners were MIA at their own public hearing.
  • Government employees doing the work of elected officials.
  • “We don’t answer questions.”
  • An unattributed report that was written by requirement of New Jersey law: “But we won’t tell you who wrote the advisory report recommending sale of the dump.”
  • No clear explanation about when the commissioners might take action to sell a $5 million public asset. The best “the woman” offered was that “You should look for a bid — you’ll know they’ve taken action when they issue a bid.” [Paraphrased, but we don’t know who said it, so what’s the harm?]

An audience member noted after the meeting that the only way to have good government is to “Vote the bums out!” Another replied that the only commissioner running for re-election this year, Shaun Van Doren, was a no-show. “Van Doren didn’t show up, but he’ll ask me to show up on election day to vote for him, do ya think?”

Van Doren’s only opponent in November is Dan Connor. Connor showed up and took notes on the public’s comments.

We cannot print the words of some attendees after the “event.” Our sensibilities would be compromised.

We’ll be obtaining the county’s official recording shortly. Stay tuned.

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Posted in Hunterdon County | Comments Off on Hunterdon Commissioners scam the public with sham public hearing

What the county hasn’t told you about sale of $5M county dump

county dumpSomething doesn’t add up. The Hunterdon County Commissioners want to sell the county dump — the Solid Waste Transfer Station on Petticoat Lane near Route 22 in Clinton Township — which has operated for over 30 years. (See Commissioners try to sell county dump: A garbage story.)

The dump is for municipal waste, and it’s where residents can dispose of solid waste including rubbish and recyclable materials. The dump gets heavy use. On weekends, residents and commercial users (e.g., building contractors) stack up along Petticoat Lane long before opening time. Users pay “tipping fees” to dump — also known as “revenue.”

For many years the dump was operated by a separate county body, the Hunterdon County Utilities Authority. In 2012 the freeholders dissolved the authority and took direct control of the dump. Local governments sometimes take over an independent authority — water, sewer, etc. — as a way to get their hands on revenue flows.

The dump generates $4,860,000 in annual revenue, according to the Proforma Operating Statement provided by Waste Management of NJ, Inc, which has been operating the dump under contract.

Questions about the dump sale based on statements made by county officials

What we learned about the dump deal (that the county hasn’t told us)

It’s in documents exmayor.com obtained under the Sunshine Law, including the December 4, 2018 contract between the county and Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. The commissioners have not publicly disclosed any of these facts.

  • Waste Management, operator of the dump, reports estimated annual profits of $75,500 on $4,860,000 in revenues
  • All operating costs are included in the contract and borne by WM.
  • WM will pay monthly operating privilege fee to county of $1,666.67 in addition to $2.00/ton per month
  • Estimated tons per day: 198.66
  • Tipping fee for users: $81/ton
  • If fees paid do not cover county’s operating costs, county may increase rates paid by WMI
  • WM will pay $2.00/ton to county for recyclable materials
  • WMI will pay $1.40/ton quarterly to Clinton Township, the host community

Pop Quiz for commissioners: Explain why the dump is not a financial win for the county. Show all your work.

Recently the commissioners announced they’re going to sell the Transfer Station. The reasons they’ve provided just don’t add up. They’re skimpy and evasive at best. These statements appeared in the Hunterdon Review (5/1/23) and TapInto Flemington/Raritan (4/27/23).

It’s time to find a private company to operate the facility.


The site is also in need of renovations, County Administrator Myhre said.

What renovations and how much would they cost? Every operation is a revenue and cost equation. Myhre offers no evidence that a sound cost analysis has been done — or he’s not telling.

The transfer station has an annual operating budget of $194,320, according to the proposed 2023 proposed county budget.

For what? Myhre implies selling the dump would save $194,320, but also claims the only county employee assigned to the dump would be “reassigned,” not terminated, so there’s no savings.

County Administrator Myhre noted the process to arrive at a point where the transfer station could be sold has surpassed a decade.

This is nothing short of embarrassing. What was the process? Myhre has provided no information about any “process” or about how the commissioners came to the conclusion to divest taxpayers of a public asset.

“It has been the desire of this board as Hunterdon County would like to get out of the business altogether of operating that transfer station. Ultimately we believe it is in the best interest of the county,” Myhre said.

Myhre has offered no facts, data, financial analysis or other justifications for what the commissioners “believe,” or why “it is in the best interest of the county.”

Commissioner Director Zachary Rich said, “For many years the county has examined the potential privatization of the transfer station so as to remove governmental bureaucracy for what should be a private business operation.”

Where are the results of the years-long examination? Who conducted it? Where’s the report? Where are the recommendations so taxpayers can see them? Why “should [the dump] be a private business?” Astonishingly, Rich admits to running Hunterdon County as a “governmental bureaucracy.

“There are substantial infrastructure improvements necessary to continue operations at the transfer station and those costs are better borne by a private investor rather than our county’s taxpayers.”

In making the decision to sell, the commissioners must have calculated the costs of improvements, or how could they judge whether it would be worth the investment for the county? What are those costs? How does selling the dump relieve taxpayers of the costs of improvements? Wouldn’t the commercial buyer just pass the costs on to taxpayers that use the dump, since it would presumably be a profit-making business? To justify shifting the costs to the buyer, the commissioners need to provide a defensible estimate of what it would cost taxpayers to use the dump.

More questions taxpayers deserve answers to before the commissioners vote to sell county dump

  • What’s the detailed breakdown of the $194,320 in “the annual operating budget”?
  • How much in revenue, fees and other payments did Waste Management deliver to the county last year?
  • The Hunterdon Review (6/14/23) reports that former County Administrator Kevin Davis, the only speaker during public comment, said at the June 6 public hearing that “not all county residents see the benefits of the dump.” Where’s the survey or study that supports this claim?
  • How many people, businesses and municipalities use the dump?
  • What are Waste Management’s monthly and annual revenues from dump operations?
  • Did WM really make only $75,500 in annual profit on $4.86M in revenues per the proforma they provide in their contract?
  • What’s the detailed explanation for why dump isn’t making money for the county?
  • Did the county produce a report that justifies the sale?

Are public questions really welcome?

State law requires the commissioners to hold two public hearings and to wait 90 days after the second hearing to take action on selling the dump. The public has the right to offer comments and ask questions at these hearings.

However, a recent news report raised questions about whether the county would in fact answer questions from the public:

[The county’s] special counsel on the Transfer Station sale process, David Weinstein, a partner in law firm Archer & Greiner P.C. provided information about the hearing. “If people wish to provide questions they can I do so to either the County Counsel or County Administrator so they can (1) be answered and (2) the board can be aware of what those questions are. People can ask questions tonight and though the board is under no obligation to answer and address those questions, you can provide answers just as any questions posed here at a public meeting can be answered.” -Hunterdon Review, 6/14/23

Neither the special counsel’s nor the Administrator’s e-mail addresses seem to be published on the county website.

Submit your questions

Readers should feel free to select any questions posed in this article — and send them to the County Administrator or to the special counsel, as the special counsel instructs — except there’s no e-mail address for either on the county website. But you could e-mail to the commissioners themselves: commissioners@co.hunterdon.nj.us. To make your submission official, preface it with this statement:

“Please accept these questions on the matter of the sale of the county dump. I look forward to your answers prior to the commissioners’ vote on the sale on June 27, otherwise I will not be fully informed to make comments at that meeting. Thank you.” [Be sure to include your name, e-mail and/or street address after listing your questions.]

To keep the commissioners honest, please cc to admin@exmayor.com.

Final public hearing prior to vote by commissioners to sell county dump

The second public hearing is set to occur at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, inside the Clinton Township Public Safety Building at 1370 State Route 31 North in the Annandale section of Clinton Township.

Long-time Commissioner Shaun Van Doren, the only commissioner up for reelection in November, apparently had nothing to say and is on board with selling the dump without further justification to taxpayers.
Only one person spoke at the first public hearing on June 6, former County Administrator Kevin Davis, a resident of Raritan Township. He “explained” the deal in virtually the exact superficial terms the commissioners did, and added that not all county residents see the benefits of the dump. He was complimented for “a great explanation” by Deputy Director Jeff Kuhl.

Shame on the Hunterdon County Commissioners and Administrator for not taking it upon themselves to fully disclose details of the dump’s operations, including the financials, prior to making a decision. Taxpayers deserve to know more than “we believe it’s time to sell it!”

Taxpayers deserve a clear, honest, independent, compelling report that justifies — without question — the sale of a significant public asset with revenues close to $5 million. Otherwise, will this smell like a backroom deal to taxpayers?

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