Monday, March 4, 2024

Blairstown Board Getting Definitions Doggone Straight

Tidying up after dogs is important, and so is straightening up the definitions of canine-related ordinances in Blairstown.

The attorney for the Land Use Board will consult with the township attorney to iron out discrepancies between existing rules regarding animal facilities and those outlined in the 2020 master plan. The Land Use Board had intended to offer an amendment to the master plan.

Land Use Board attorney Roger Thomas said that the 2020 master plan does discuss animal facilities and kennels and that there is sufficient background in the master plan to move forward with an ordinance amending the master plan. Township attorney Kevin Benbrook said he was concerned that the re-examination of the master plan did not address pet shops.

Benbrook’s other concern was that the revised master plan’s wording apparently would prohibit impound facilities, a use that had not specifically been banned in the past. He said it would likely be illegal to forbid a previously legal use.

Although ordinances are normally drafted by the Township Committee and its attorney, Benbrook said that in this case it would be more efficient if the Land Use Board attorney wrote the initial draft of the ordinance. Township Committee member Walter Orcutt, who represents the committee on the Land Use Board agreed, and to gather input from the animal control officer.

Orcutt also stated that he wanted to ensure that residents who are currently involved in any animal facilities and considered pre-existing, non-conforming uses, meaning they would be “grandfathered” into any changes to the master plan.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.