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Mar 07, 2017

Colts Neck Township News Notes

By Nicholas Deckmejian

Frank Rizzuto being sworn in as Colts Neck Township Committeeman

Road Work

At the February 8 Colts Neck Township Committee Meeting, Mayor Russell Macnow gave updates on plans to improve roads in town. He touched upon the project to improve the crossing of Routes 537 and 34, explaining that the town had to give their approval on revisions presented by the county and state in order for them to get started, mostly related to the organization of lanes and the access to businesses from the road.

Mayor Macnow explained that even though the much-awaited work should finally start soon, it will bring a hearty helping of headaches for the community. The committee cited examples of what obstacles can be expected. They have already been advised that there will be a detour on Route 537 for 10 evenings, forcing drivers to travel through Heyer’s Mill from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., excluding Friday through Sunday. The committee also explained that the township was applying for a grant to commence phase II of road improvements to Five Points Road. The second step to this project would involve paving the section of road from Route 18 overpass north to Monmouth County Route 537, an area of road cited as being in a state of disrepair.

Fire Response

At the February 8 township committee meeting, the committee took the time to commend every individual who responded to Cedar Drive’s infamous abandoned mansion when it suddenly became an inferno. “We don’t have events like this in Colts Neck very often,” said Mayor Macnow, “This was a big one.”

It’d be a hard task to find someone from town who wasn’t familiar with the reputation of the property at 104 Cedar Drive and its oddness both in lore and lure. Circumstances led the house to become a vacant structure, and since it is tucked behind a saturation of trees at the end of a long driveway, the property gave a “no man’s land” appeal that became a magnet to mischief. The abandoned mansion was left vulnerable to be pillaged and vandalized for years, becoming a constant source of problems for the township. Eventually, the property festered into such a notorious site that it became a brief internet sensation. But, in the end, 104 Cedar Drive was destroyed after flames engulfed it in the middle of the night.

“The house was never salvageable from the beginning” said Mayor Macnow, but explained the township is nevertheless tremendously grateful to the first responders who kept the fire under control and prevented it from letting loose on the surrounding properties. The mayor also praised Committeeman Frank Rizzuto, thanking him for being at the property all night as the situation unfolded. Mr. Rizzuto extended that praise to all the other first responders and volunteer emergency services that battled the fire through the early morning, and also thanked the support given by the responders from Earle and surrounding towns.

Colts Neck Welcomes New Committeeman

At the January 25 township committee meeting, Frank Rizzuto was sworn in to the township committee. The departure of Michael Fitzgerald from the township left a vacancy on the committee, and Mr. Rizzuto was selected to serve the one unexpired year of term. Committeeman Rizzuto was honored to accept his new responsibilities and excited to get started. He thanked Mayor Macnow and the committee, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, and his family, who was in attendance, saying, “I promise you that you’ll get a hardworking committeeman.”

Fireworks Scheduled

At the January 25 township committee meeting, it was announced that Independence Day fireworks will be held on July 3, not July 4, at Bucks Mill Park.

Economic Development

Over the course of several meetings, the township’s Economic Development Committee is finally starting to take form. At the January 25 meeting, the township committee was still debating the composition of the committee, specifically in regards to Colts Neck Business Association members. It was discussed how to limit the seats available to CNBA members, with the committee ultimately deciding to pass an amendment stating that there shall be no more than two seats eligible to CNBA members, one being the reserved seat for the CNBA president and the second open to an additional member. Some of the public in attendance gave pushback to the committee’s discussion, questioning why they are concerned about having too many seats for CNBA members. The argument was made that an Economic Development Committee would predictably attract business-savvy residents, but a resident with that type of interest in local business would most likely already be a member of the CNBA. The other concern was why there would be an issue with having a majority of CNBA members on the committee, as if there would be a conflict of interest.

Deputy Mayor Bartolomeo responded to these concerns, saying it has nothing to do with any dubious feelings towards the involvement of CNBA members, but rather an effort to have as many different perspectives as possible. “We do have a nice population in town and we would like to see other people give input on what they’d like to see,” he said. “It’s not to alienate the CNBA or to alienate residents; it’s to bring them together and have a collective thought process. I see no reason why we wouldn’t want to have a non-business member on something like that.” Mayor Macnow also added that the concept of CNBA or non-CNBA members having a majority is ultimately irrelevant. “This is not a binding authority,” said the mayor, explaining that any discussion to be voted upon would not have power to allow or terminate any potential plans in town, so there is no inherent threat to a majority one way or another – just a desire for “getting the most input from different points of view.”

At the February 8 meeting, the township committee appointed the members to the Economic Development Committee. All six seats were appointed, with five voting members and Mayor Macnow as the committee’s liaison, which was clarified to be a non-voting seat. Sue Fitzpatrick was appointed to the reserved position for the CNBA president. Audra Carletta and A.J. Garito were appointed with terms expiring December 31, 2018, and Lisa Aldridge and Don Norkus were appointed with terms expiring December 31, 2019.