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Environmental Commission Prepares Anti-Idling Ordinance

Environmental Commissioner Arnold Schmidt was credited with doing the “heavy lifting” in getting the proposed anti-idling ordinance ready for review.

Environmental Commission members were given a final look January 23 at the anti-idling ordinance they will propose to the Township Council.

The ordinance, now being sent for attorney review, is based on the statewide anti-idling law, but adds a few tweaks, Tara Kenyon, the township’s open space consultant, told the Commissioners.

Basically, the statewide law makes it illegal to run a motor vehicle engine for more than three minutes when the vehicle is not moving. The law doesn’t apply to vehicles stopped on roads, or queued up in line.

Kenyon said that a resolution that accompanies the ordinance explains the rationale behind it.

“It says that in Franklin, we are going to go a little bit above and beyond the existing regulations in the state … our ordinance is going to be more stringent basically,” she said.

One of the things the Township’s ordinance would do, she said, is start a list of priority sites that would be sent to “the Environmental Commission along with the Planning Board, to work in coordination with the Somerset County Health Department so they can do their monitoring, their enforcement.”

The County health department is responsible for enforcing the anti-idling law.

Commissioner Arnold Schmidt, who Kenyon said did the “heavy lifting” on getting the proposed ordinance ready for review, said the list of priority sites would help the County health department.

The department conducts about six to 10 hours of surveillance per week throughout the County looking for idling law violators, he said.

“You have to remember that that’s spread out over 21 municipalities in the county, and that’s part of the reason why we want to give them this list, to provide them with hot spots in the township … we want them to know where we think it’s important that they go to for surveillance,” he said. “Of course, they will also respond to complaints, if they are out there and see people idling, they can cite them also.”

The proposed township ordinance also indemnifies property owners from being cited if someone on their property is cited for violating the ordinance, as long as the property owner has a “No Idling” sign on the property.

“We wanted that in there because that gives the property owner the incentive to put the signs up,” Schmidt said. “In the short-term it will cost them some money, but in the long-term, they will save money if motor vehicles are found idling on their property.”

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