A Healthy and Safe Bedminster
We have all just experienced a spring like no one could have ever imagined. The economic impact to residents and businesses has been profound, and a full recovery will take some time.
Our residents are suffering. Some have lost work, while others are grieving the loss of family and friends. Keeping taxes low, extending taxpayer grace periods, and helping our community heal is paramount.
At the same time, our local businesses have been decimated. No business owner could have anticipated completely shuttering their establishments for months on end.
The local tax burden is shared by residents and businesses alike. A healthy local economy helps ease the load shouldered by our residents.
Right now, we have to help our local businesses get back on their feet. Our businesses are reopening in a safe, thoughtful way that enables our local economy to survive. One way we have accomplished this is through special use permits, which are temporary "licenses" that allow businesses to operate in different ways. For example, issuing an outdoor dining permit to a local restaurant can provide additional dining capacity beyond their indoor seating, which is likely to be significantly restricted for the foreseeable future. Other examples of special use permits include temporary signage, outdoor displays and sidewalk sales, and designated parking spaces for curbside pickup. I have and will continue to support these novel approaches to getting our businesses back on track.
At the same time, a healthy Bedminster means establishing and following guidelines for a safe return to normalcy. Early on, I and the other members of the Township Committee lobbied to keep our local parks and trails open, recognizing the need for exercise and outdoor activities in the midst of the pandemic. We set parameters to ensure the health of our children at summer camp, access to our library, a safe environment at our local Farmers Market and a host of other activities. I'll continue to work with our local Board of Health and County Department of Health to continue these efforts in a responsible fashion.
Complementing these initiatives is a continued emphasis on public safety. Our police department is highly trained and has demonstrated time and again their dedication to protecting both people and property. Like any healthy entity, success is predicated by a commitment to ongoing improvement. That being said, defunding the police is not an option, and would only serve to harm the residents of our town and the men and women who so admirably serve us here in Bedminster.
What does a healthy and safe Bedminster not mean? Overdevelopment. When I ran three years ago, preserving Bedminster's small town feel was central to my campaign. I have very publicly taken stands against developers looking to circumvent our zoning. Not only was I a constant presence at Land Use Board hearings prior to serving on the Township Committee, my feelings on this topic are well documented. You can read more about that here.
My belief is that any new development needs to be appropriately sized and scaled to our community. I am excited about a bakery coming to Bedminster village, and our new local cidery is already a great success. While times are (always) changing, we can grow with the times without sacrificing our heritage or the health of our local economy.