COLTS NECK – Township Committee members have discussed the possibility of setting term limits for residents who are appointed to serve on Colts Neck’s board and commissions.
Committee members discussed the topic on March 14.
“The spirit behind this (discussion) is that we have very important town boards and commissions that are volunteer-based, albeit appointed by this committee and the mayor, but they are volunteer spots,” Mayor J.P. Bartolomeo said. “Some boards have members who have been kind enough to volunteer for decades.
“However, in the spirit of some of the things I hear on the streets, people want to know why there isn’t a cap (on years served), as do I. So far we have initiated an attendance policy (for boards and commissions) and the question was brought up at planning. Some people take these terms very seriously, but when you are sitting on a board for decades. I think it is either time for you to look at a different board and maybe bring value to something else,” Bartolomeo said.
Township Attorney Meghan Bennett Clark said other boards do have a type of term limit and that if Township Committee members want to put a rule in place, they can do it through a resolution or an ordinance, or ask boards to follow an unwritten rule.
For many years as the Township Committee has maintained a 5-0 Republican majority, the municipality’s elected officials have observed a three-term (nine years) limit for service on the governing body.
Bartolomeo said if a term limit was to be put in place for other boards and commissions, the limit would not be less than the nine-year limit Township Committee members follow. The mayor said he believes 12 years is the appropriate term limit.
Committeeman Russell Macnow said he believes the primary problem with the issue is the planning and zoning board, with other boards and commissions having significant turnover.
“I don’t have a problem with it conceptually, as long as the governing body has an out in case they can’t find someone to fill a spot. I would worry about the more desirable boards like planning or zoning,” Macnow said.
Committeeman Thomas Orgo said he was a bit hesitant about setting term limits.
“New people coming on the planning or zoning board have to fit a certain criteria,” Orgo said. “The problem is that the new people need to know about how the township functions, how the master plan works and that is why we have them read the book and it takes forever just to get an idea of how it works. You have to know what the rules are and you won’t know how it works just by being on there for three years, it takes a while.”
Committeeman Michael Viola said, “I see pros and cons on both sides. I see value in turnover and bringing new residents in who want to serve or maybe move up from ad hoc (committees) into committees and then the boards … I also see the risk where we have people who have been serving for a long time and make significant contributions to the community and they may be difficult to replace. From an overall perspective, I would be supportive of some type of concept of limitations because that would bring more people into the fold.”
Following the discussion, the committee members asked the township attorney to examine how other municipalities handle the matter of term limits on boards and commissions.