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Board’s chairman asks for full-time zoning officer to be hired in Tinton Falls

TINTON FALLS – The chairman of the Tinton Falls Zoning Board of Adjustment has informed municipal officials that residents are not adhering to zoning regulations and that a full-time zoning officer needs to be hired in a community that is still developing.

Ron Battista, who chairs the zoning board, addressed Mayor Vito Perillo and Borough Council members during the public comment portion of the governing body’s June 18 meeting in the municipal building.

Battista read a letter the zoning board sent to borough officials. The subject of the letter is “Continued Town Growth and the Need for a Full-Time Zoning Position.”

The board’s letter states, “As you know, Ms. Lori Paone has retired from her many years of service to the borough. During her tenure, she was the borough’s administrative analyst/land use administrator, code enforcement, zoning official, housing liaison and public officer.

“As a result of her retirement, it is clear that a significant void has been created in the management and enforcement of borough land use code. While a plan to address these issues has not yet been presented, it has come to our attention that a new hire is not anticipated and Ms. Paone’s duties are being considered to be spread out among current borough employees.

“On behalf of the entire board, we must express our strong reservations regarding any plan that dilutes and/or bifurcates this full-time position. As this town continues to grow, the demands of this position will intensify, given the breadth of responsibilities and enumerated above.

“We are the body that sees the impact of this role on our Tinton Falls community, and are united in (a) call for a full-time role to assume the recently vacated position. Simply put: this is not a part-time position.

“Moreover, though we recognize this is not a requirement, we would respectfully request the opportunity to be involved in the hiring process, including the review of resumes and interviewing candidates to fully vet their qualifications and experience.

“Given the board’s diverse background, we believe we can be of invaluable assistance to the mayor and council (in) the selection of an individual to execute this role in promoting and protecting the quality of life in our town,” the zoning board members wrote.

After reading the letter into the record, Battista elaborated on the matter, saying, “People are doing things without permits. Board members see this in the community. What we are hearing is that people are just doing stuff. No one is applying for permits.”

Battista said the zoning board is not seeing any applications for the types of home improvements it has seen in the past and added, “right now there is nothing scheduled before the board.”

He said an issue can arise if a resident tries to sell his home and a home inspection turns up work for which no permits were obtained or improvements that do not comply with municipal ordinances.

“People are being told to tear things down if a home inspection occurs,” Battista said.

Zoning board member Charles Lomangino addressed the mayor and council and said, “This (situation) is like having laws, but having no one to enforce them. Permits don’t ever get closed.

“When people try to sell their house the permits are still open and they can’t get a certificate of occupancy. The town never went back to check on the work. It’s a disservice to everyone … A town must have a proper zoning department. Please take a long, hard look at this,” Lomangino said.

Council President Gary Baldwin said the position of zoning officer is a decision to be made on the administrative side of Tinton Falls’ municipal government.

Earlier in the meeting, officials read a proclamation recognizing Paone, the borough’s administrative analyst who retired on May 31 “after 33 years of outstanding and commendable service to the residents of Tinton Falls.”

Paone joined the borough in 1987 as a code enforcement official “and because of diligent work and demonstrated ability, she advanced to additional titles; deputy zoning officer in August 1988, official zoning officer, Planning Board supervisor and administrative analyst in October 1993 and public officer in June 2007.”

Perillo and the council members said they “take this opportunity to express our sincere and grateful appreciation, and hereby extend to Lori Paone our congratulations on her well-earned retirement, and our best wishes to her for continued success, happiness and good health in the years to come.”

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