FAIR HAVEN: ARBORCIDE AT NATURAL AREA

fh-nature-areaNature enthusiasts want the borough to fund restoration of a mistakenly cleared-out area at the Fair Haven Fields Natural Area. Below, the affected site. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

fh-nature-area1

Several years of toil by nature-loving volunteers was undone in Fair Haven last month when borough employees mistakenly destroyed some 150 baby trees, officials said Monday.

Sometime last month, public works employees, while doing routine maintenance at the Fair Haven Fields Natural Area, errantly bushwhacked about 150 small trees planted to protect the area from Asian Bittersweet vines, an invasive species that had destroyed at least 20 percent of the area’s plant life, said volunteer Richard Magovern.

Now, what was once a well-fortified thicket of small trees is an open patch of green, a visible chink in the armor used to fight off an invasive adversary.

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OH DEER, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE…

dsc_4059A deer crosses a street in Shrewsbury at dusk last year. Fair Haven officials say they’re watching Shrewsbury’s effort to curtail its deer population. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Last year they were eating tree seedlings out of Stephen Knowlton’s yard on Church Street in Fair Haven. This year he’s having a hard time keeping a patch of lilies.

Elizabeth Lilleston, Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer and a resident of Woodland Drive, says she sees them daily roaming the street.

And Mayor Mike Halfacre, who also lives on Church, snapped a picture on his cell phone last week of one chomping on his neighbor’s grass.

If Fair Haven’s deer population isn’t controlled, Knowlton warned, “they’re going to be sleeping on our front lawns.”

Like towns across New Jersey, the borough is now facing a tricky problem: an apparent rise in deer wandering into the residential areas of town, and few options to thin the herds.

“I don’t know what we can do short of a hunt,” Halfacre said.

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FAIR HAVEN TREE LAW PUT IN THE SHADE

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

bob-marcheseIn Fair Haven’s great tree debate, the borough council has gone back and forth for months, trying to find middle ground on revisions that would satisfy advocates of both property rights and environmental concerns.

Now, the shade tree commission has weighed with a set of proposed revisions to the ordinance. The planning board has chimed in, too, recommending the  law be uprooted altogether and re-seeded with a fresh perspective.

Where does a governing body go from here? Back to the negotiating table, apparently.

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FAIR HAVEN TO RETAIN ZONING BOARD

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

b-lucarelliFair Haven’s zoning board will stay intact, despite a councilman’s call to disband the body last month.

Following lengthy discussions with council, planning and zoning board members, the council decided Monday to maintain the current zoning board, which it acknowledged has a “public relations/perception” problem.

Instead, the bodies will work together to better informing the public of the board’s role, responsibilities and basic processes for those appearing before it, said Councilman Ben Lucarelli, above, who last month asked that it be dissolved because of “unacceptable” behavior he witnessed at a meeting.

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HALL RESTORATION GETS A BIG BOOST

bicentennial-hallA cash infusion means Bicentennial Hall should be ready for a 2012 opening. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Restoration work on Fair Haven’s Bicentennial Hall, a nationally recognized historic landmark, got an $80,000 boost Monday.

A donation by the borough’s historical society elevates the project from piecemeal to shovel-ready, town officials said.

“It has been advancing in fits and spurts over the years, and now we have a plan in place,” said Mayor Mike Halfacre.

The donation means the building will open to the public in time for Fair Haven’s bicentennial celebration next year.

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FAIR HAVEN’S PETERS QUESTIONS WATER TIPS

fh-sprinklerA sprinkler system outside a River Road home in Fair Haven. New Jersey American Water has asked residents to consider voluntary water restrictions in anticipation of a hot, dry summer. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Following the brief blast of heat and dry weather in the area nearly two weeks ago, and in preparation for more of it this summer, New Jersey American Water sent a letter to local mayors suggesting residents consider voluntary water restrictions at home.

On its face, it’s a move by the water company to help prevent what happened last year, and all of a sudden: a mandatory restriction that confounded locals at the height of a holiday weekend.

But at least one Fair Haven official is calling the water company out, and questions whether it has made the necessary improvements to its treatment and distribution system to handle growing demand in Monmouth County.

“We’re starting pretty early in the year to be asking to (reduce) our consumption,” Council President Jon Peters said. “We were told last year this was anomalous. We’re going to be watching very closely.”

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RUMSONITES BARK AT TREE TAKEDOWN

doug-spencerShade Tree Commission Chairman Doug Spencer shows residents a piece of a tree Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven officials aren’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to adapting to changes to the borough’s tree preservation ordinance. And now, they have a little company.

On Tuesday night, Rumson’s council suddenly found itself in the middle of a thorny debate over the efficacy of its tree preservation law after a Navesink Avenue property’s tree population was decimated last week, residents said.

Change to the ordinance and bolstered enforcement are likely, council members said.

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WANTED: RED LIGHT CAMERA IN FAIR HAVEN

fh-red-lightFair Haven’s council is looking to add a red-light camera at the intersection of River and Fair Haven roads. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A busy River Road intersection in Fair Haven may get a red-light camera installed to catch reckless drivers.

The borough is seeking state approval for the installation of the camera at Fair Haven Road under a pilot program aimed at making roads safer, Mayor Mike Halfacre said.

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IT’S LIGHTS OUT ON RIVER ROAD, EVENTUALLY

river-road-lightsOlder lights on River Road in Fair Haven will come down on an as-needed basis. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

River Road in Fair Haven is lit up like a runway now that new streetlights have been installed on both sides of the thoroughfare.

You may have noticed, as well, that still stationed on the stretch through downtown are the old lights, casting pallid halogen beams down over the new, old-look fixtures.

Those aren’t coming down any time soon, although they will be shut off, making for a uniform glow down the renovated streetscape of the busy road, officials say.

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SPOT-HOGGING AN ISSUE IN FAIR HAVEN

fh-parkingBusinesses say owners and employees are going over the two-hour parking limit on River and Fair Haven roads, taking precious spots away from shoppers. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021Fair Haven’s police department is reluctant to go on a ticketing blitz downtown. But if business owners and employees keep camping at prime parking spaces, that’ll be the next course of action.

“It’s become an issue,” said Michele Berger, president of the borough’s business association, which has received complaints the last three months about owners and employees parking on River and Fair Haven roads all day. “People are asking: what are we going to do about it?”

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TREE LAW SPLITS FAIR HAVEN COUNCIL

tree-chopWorkers cut down a tree in front of a Third Street home in Fair Haven Monday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Months of discussion and a handful of proposed revisions to Fair Haven’s tree preservation ordinance still haven’t gotten the six-member council in agreement on just what to do with the contentious law.

Half want to keep it as is. The other half, in the name of preserving property rights, want it updated.

When the latest would-be updates, proposed by Councilman Bob Marchese, came up for an introduction vote Monday night, the motion passed with a tie-breaking ‘yes’ by Mayor Mike Halfacre.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll will go into effect when a final vote comes.

“I will tell you gentlemen, if this same ordinance comes before me again, on a 3-3 tie I will vote no,” Halfacre said.

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DISBAND ZONING BOARD, COUNCILMAN SAYS

b-lucarelliBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven Councilman Ben Lucarelli (right) has been in the construction and real estate business more than 20 years, and in that time has appeared before countless zoning board all over the state.

None has treated applicants as badly as Fair Haven’s, he said.

So after attending last week’s zoning meeting, and being completely appalled by its members’ actions, Lucarelli has made a bold proposal: disband the board and fold its duties into the planning board’s authority.

“I was appalled at the arrogant, condescending, mean-spirited nature of the zoning board,” he said. “This was just a very bad example of how the residents of Fair Haven are being treated.”

And nobody on the council, which at least once before tried to disband the nine-member board, disagreed.

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FAIR HAVEN MAY TRIM TREE LAW

fh-treesHance Road in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Councilman Bob Marchese’s got his axe ready, and it looks like changes to Fair Haven’s tree ordinance are imminent.

Marchese is proposing tweaks to the borough’s tree law, which he says infringes upon property owners’ rights.

“I believe our tree ordinance is subject to a constitutional attack, quite honestly,” he said. “I want to get this moving.”

It got moving Monday night, and the revised ordinance is expected to be introduced for a vote next month.

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HATS THROWN INTO AND HELD FROM RACES

castlemanLittle Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman is calling it quits. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for November’s elections, and in the sleepy towns of Rumson, Little Silver and Fair Haven, where Republicans dominate and election outcomes are all but foregone conclusions, the big news is who’s not running for re-election.

Here’s a rundown of who’s in and who’s out in those towns.

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FAIR HAVEN: GO SLOW ON SIGNS & PLANTERS

ped-signThe Fair Haven council wants fewer ped x-ing signs on River Road. Complaints have also been made about the number of planters and trash cans along sidewalks, below. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

plantersOn River Road heading through Fair Haven heading toward Rumson, the signs are hard to miss: large, yellow warnings of pedestrian crossings, many bunched together.

The neon-bright clusters, while clearly there for safety purposes, might be a little much. Borough leadership certainly thinks so.

“There are just so many of them, I think you could make the argument that they lose their effectiveness,” Administrator Theresa Casagrande said. “Not only is there a sign, there’s a sign saying there’s a sign coming up.”

Mayor Mike Halfacre said the signs have been there for years, but complaints have been coming in to borough hall for just as long, and the council wants Monmouth County, which is responsible for River Road, to consider reducing the number. There are at least six on each side of the road through the business district, and another four or so just before the Rumson border.

“It’s reached a point where we need to do something about it,” he said.

You might say the council needs to do something about another clutter problem in town, not far from those big, honking signs.

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FAIR HAVEN BOE BARELY GETS WITHIN CAP

taxesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With the help of partially restored state aid, Fair Haven’s Board of Education is bringing its budget just within the two-percent cap for the 2011-’12 school year.

The $12.2 million plan — $11.8 million of it to be raised through local taxes — includes $184,807 in state aid, a $90,000 boost from the current school year’s aid, which was slashed significantly.

“We definitely had a lot of cuts on the table, so it was a very happy day when we found out we’d get some state aid back,” Superintendent Kathi Cronin said Monday night, when presenting an overview of the budget to the borough council.

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IF IT SITS LIKE A DUCK…

duckJoining the Fair Haven Borough Council Monday night was this wooden duck found in a storage closet at borough hall by Mayor Mike Halfacre. “I thought it was serendipitous,” he said, considering the recent attention on the borough over 12-year-old Nicole Stover’s request to keep six ducks as pets. But there was a minor controversy over the table piece. “I think it’s a goose, actually,” Council President Jon Peters said. The council is expected to decide the fate of Nicole’s ducks at its April 11 meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

BONUS FOR CHIEF, TRASH JOBBED OUT

darryl-breckenridge-010108By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge got his annual attaboy from the borough council last night in the form of a $3,000 bonus.

This is not unusual in Fair Haven. Employees do well, they get compensated, Mayor Mike Halfacre said.

And even though Breckenridge is part of the police department, he is not a member of a union, making him eligible for a performance-based bonus, like all other non-union workers, Halfacre said.

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FAIR HAVENITES QUACK OVER PET DUCKS

nicole-dawn-stoverNicole Stover, left, and her mother, Dawn, make their case to the borough council to keep six ducks as pets. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The borough council in Fair Haven is faced with a difficult and unusual decision.

On Monday night, the governing body heard from Nicole and Dawn Stover, who for the last six months have raised six ducks on their South Woodland Drive property — to the chagrin of their neighbors, who have health concerns and complain that the noise from the ducks is irritating.

If the council allows the Stovers to keep the ducks, it will upset the neighbors. If it denies the family’s request, then it will have broken the heart of 12-year-old Nicole, who’s raised the ducks — she’s named them Jeffrey, Delilah, Daisy, Lucifer, Blue and Genie — and says they’re “pretty much like my children.”

This is a touchy subject, especially in Fair Haven, where disruptions to the status quo tend to spin the populace into a tizzy.

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FAIR HAVEN TRASH IS GOING PRIVATE

fh-trash-can1The cans will stay, but the people picking up the trash in Fair Haven will be different next month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

New faces may be pulling up to curbs in Fair Haven to pick up the trash next month.

At the Fair Haven council’s next meeting, on March 14, the council is expected to open bids for private contractors to handle the borough’s trash and recycling. The move to private collection is estimated to save anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, said Mayor Mike Halfacre.

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COUNCILMAN WANTS TO AXE TREE ORDINANCE

bob-marcheseBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Is Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese barking up the wrong tree?

The second-year councilman, shown right, told his counterparts Monday night that he wants to see the borough’s tree ordinance repealed, and intends to take it to a vote in the near future.

The ordinance, designed to protect trees of a certain size from the saw, was at issue last year when the borough code enforcement officer refused to let a home builder cut down a dozen trees and the council overruled the decision.

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ANOTHER FAIR HAVEN TAX DROP EXPECTED

fh-boro-hallFair Haven is expected to reduce taxes for the fourth straight year. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

While Governor Chris Christie laid out a state’s budget Tuesday that included a plan to keep state aid to cities and towns flat, Fair Haven, in anticipation of such a move, outlined its own spending plan for the year.

As it’s become custom under Mayor Mike Halfacre, local taxes are going down.

But don’t make dinner reservations just yet. The savings might only get you a half-tank of gas.

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FAIR HAVEN JOINS THE PINK ARMY

Arnone, markThe traditional pink stripe down the center of Broad Street in honor of Paint the Town Pink might have to make an eastward turn into Fair Haven this year. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For the second straight year, Riverview Medical Center is taking the pink paintbrush outside Red Bank in a push to spread its message of breast cancer awareness.

In 2011, it’ll be Fair Haven — or Pink Haven? — jumping onboard the hospital’s heavy PR campaign promoting breast cancer detection and prevention.

Expect to see much of the same of what Red Bank has done the last four years: lectures, fundraisers and lots of pink.

The borough and its businesses are ready to get in on the action.

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FAIR HAVEN TAPS POLS’ AUNT FOR ADMIN JOB

cell-phoneTo make a quorum, two Fair Haven council members voted via cell phone to approve a new administrator Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In less-than-typical fashion, Fair Haven’s borough council voted Tuesday night to hire a new administrator to replace Mary Howell.

The surname should ring a bell. Theresa Casagrande, aunt to Assemblywoman Caroline Casasgrande, steps into the job today.

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FAIR HAVEN TO NAME NEW ADMINISTRATOR

m-howell1Fair Haven Administrator Mary Howell’s last day is expected to be Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It took a little longer than expected, but Fair Haven is ready to appoint borough administrator Mary Howell‘s successor.

The council will hold a special meeting Monday night to vote on a contract for Howell’s replacement, whom Mayor Mike Halfacre would not yet identify.

“We haven’t voted on it yet and the contract terms are not quite finalized yet,” he said, “but we’re very excited to have the search done.”

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