With 2013 here upon us, you may find yourself wondering what local issues will take center stage in the new year. Chatham Township and Chatham Borough will both be busy, and we have a list of what topics to watch out for in the next 364 days.
5. Parking. Anyone who has tried to find a parking space along Main Street between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. knows how tough it can be. Borough officials continue to look for solutions, but it seems the problem just gets more complicated. It's not just about parking downtown during rush hour; it's also about where to put cars when your family owns three of four, but your driveway only fits one.
4. Weather. To a casual reader, weather may seem an innoccuous topic for the new year. But anyone who lost power in Hurricane Sandy knows that extreme weather is affecting the area more than ever before, and everyone in the area will feel it--not just in cost to home improvements from fallen trees or in outfiting your home with a generator, but also in damaged infrastructure, damage to public buildings, loss of school and work days, costs of hotels and travel and
3. Taxes. Everybody's favorite thing, next to death. School taxes continue to go up each year, often within the allowable increase but over the state-mandated two percent cap. Taxes in Chatham Borough went up by seven percent last year, while taxes in the township stayed flat for the second consecutive year. When the municipal governments and the school district unveil their tax plans, usually starting in about February, it will be interesting to see what is in store for 2013 tax rates.
2. Pending litigation. The borough and township both have some outstanding lawsuits they are involved with, including the lawsuit against TriCare Services, LLC for use of the Parrot Mill Inn; the lawsuit over the family farming ordinance in Chatham Township and the lawsuit to prevent lights from being installed on Cougar Field, which involves the borough, the township, the school istrict and Madison. Expect to see some progress made in these cases as the months go on.
1. Motor Vehicle Traffic. Besides the fatal crash in Chatham just before Christmas, there was another driver hospitalized after an accident on Shunpike Road earlier in December. There was a 13-year-old hit by a car when crossing the street outside the crosswalk in October and bicycle riders struck by a car along Southern Boulevard in September. Another cyclist ran a stop sign in July and hit a car. With the Traffic Safety and the Safe Routes to School committees active in the Chathams already, expect them to get more vocal about safety on Chatham roads in the months to come.
What are some of the biggest issues to you in 2013?