Hemant Marathe, West Windsor
I sent the following email to Mayor Hsueh last weekend:
Dear Mayor Hsueh,
I was disappointed to get a press release in response to my email requesting an update on the status of the Pocket (Nash) Park. The email announced a groundbreaking ceremony to take place at the Pocket Park. As I noted in my email, accepting the gift and putting it in place without following proper procedure is both against the West Windsor Township code and state law.
The job of council is to protect the interests of West Windsor residents. You are using an asset that belongs to the residents without proper debate, discussion or permission from the elected officials of West Windsor Council. My position should come as no surprise to you as I had raised objections to such misuse of power during the first meeting you arranged for newly elected council members late last year.
Your misuse of power to make decisions without consultation leaves the council with no option but to make policy decisions through the funding process. I don’t understand your fear of openly debating the merits of your case.
I would like to urge you to follow the proper process and bring the matter before Township Council for approval before accepting the gift. I enumerate below the reasons why I feel what you are doing is morally, ethically and legally questionable.
The Faulkner Act, N.J.S.A. 40:69A-40(f), clearly states that municipal improvements are to be proposed by the mayor and approved by council before execution. Thus, to follow the law, you will have to submit for council’s approval a proposal for erection of the “Beautiful Pavilion” in the Nash Park. Unilateral erection of this structure without submission of a proposal, followed by council approval, would be unlawful on its face.
West Windsor Township Code, Chapter 4, Section 4-61 (D) gives the Enviromental Commission power to receive gifts of either real or personal property in the name of the municipality, again with council’s approval, for purposes related to the improvement of public land. The Environmental Commission has not taken any action on accepting the gift of the pavilion. Even if they do, it still has to be approved by council.
Erections of permanent structures in West Windsor are subject to local building codes and the issuance of permits. The proposed pavilion would be an unusual structure such as has never been previously built in West Windsor. Therefore it could be in violation of our codes in several ways. Complete drawings and specifications should be submitted to the Construction Department for their approval and permitting before any construction activities would be started.
The Pocket Park is in Zone EH according to the official Zoning Map. Bulk, area and use regulations for that district may require the issuance of a variance or variances in order to obtain a building permit.
I would once again urge you to engage council in the approval process as required by both state law and township code. I do plan to raise this issue at the next council meeting.
Mr. Marrathe is vice president of the West Windsor Township Council.
Hemant Marathe, West Windsor