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In Your Opinion: Answers From Government Should Be Easily Obtained

By Bill Connell, Somerset.

I had 15 minutes to revel in awe of Somerset County traffic engineers, at the intersection of Demott, South Middlebush and Amwell the other day. It was a consequence of the downed “utility” pole on Cedar Grove Lane. It reminded me of a recent interaction I had with the town and county.

They are building a strip mall on the east corner of Veronica and Hamilton (Amwell). I have no issue with the mall itself.
When I saw the plan at a Board of Adjustment’s meeting, I questioned the exit lane onto Hamilton. A simple question: What thought process was used in putting it there?

The board itself expressed no meaningful knowledge to answer my question and referred me to the county. It actually was a question that should have been answered at the county level. I called the county and they invited me to come look at the plan. I asked if I would understand it was told probably not. It would be best to hire an engineer to interpret it, but I could still come look at it. This is where the answer becomes more interesting than the question.

In my job and most jobs you have to do the work and justify it. My boss does not have to hire another person to interpret what I did. Why is that so at county level?

The traffic consultant was able to cover a few car payments and the county employees who worked on it were able to see growth in their pension. The least I could get is a straight answer on something that will impact me without having to take a day off or hire a professional to get an explanation.

This is certainly not the worst case but the other question is, how much should local municipalities push back when the county is involved? What is the depth of understanding of a plan our boards should have before approving it?

This difficult interaction feeds into all the stereotypes of politics and government workers. To get an answer should not be a job. I have one of those, but providing me an answer is their job.

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