Lockwood returns to mayor’s seat

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New proposals planned for 2013

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Committeeman Dan Lockwood last week was sworn in for a second term as mayor.

Lockwood was re-elected for another three-year term on Middle Township Committee during the November General Election. He defeated Democrat Bill Sturm in a close race.

During Township Committee’s Jan. 3 reorganization meeting, former Sen. James Cafiero gave Lockwood the oath of office as his family looked on.

Each year, Township Committee chooses a mayor and deputy mayor. Lockwood became mayor in 2012.

Lockwood, a Republican, said his first three years as committeeman went by quickly and at times, slowly.

"I think that we have a great team here," he said. “I appreciate Sue and Tim’s hard work on many different issues. We’ve seem to come together. I think we’ve really done a decent job of trying to come up with the best decision, although we’ve had healthy debates and minor disagreements on issues, we’ve done a good job.”

Susan DeLanzo, a Democrat, said she hopes that the committee can again work well together in the New Year without holding to party lines.

Township Committee faced some difficult issues in 2012, she said.

Republican Committeeman Tim Donohue agreed.

"That [challenges] will never change I don't think," said Donohue, who was sworn in Jan. 3 as deputy mayor for another year.

Last year

One major issue in 2012 was affordable housing, Lockwood said. The state forced municipalities to commit affordable housing trust fund money to build affordable housing, and Middle Township officials aggressively hammered out details during the summer.

Affordable housing is being planned in Rio Grande and Whitesboro, with the most controversial site being at Railroad Avenue in Cape May Court House. The location will have 48 affordable housing units.

Some said the project would be harmful to the environment. The land lies within the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge acquisition boundaries, and is nearly all of the property is surrounded by land owned by the refuge.

Some opponents don’t like that Conifer Realty will pay 10 percent of project revenues to the township, county, fire districts No. 1 and 2 and school district instead of paying property taxes.

Middle Township officials earmarked $981,000 to Conifer for housing projects.

Conifer will also build a 112-unit project in Rio Grande.

This year

Several initiatives are on the agenda for 2013, Lockwood said.

One of them is looking for energy cost savings, such as combining energy accounts in the community to snag better rates.

Officials hope to pull together energy contracts from both residents and businesses to seek a better rate overall.

A solar project is also being explored. Last year, Lockwood talked with officials from Middle Township Fire District No. 1 on pulling energy from solar panels on a field in the township.

Township officials are continuing to work on an open space and recreation plan. Efforts got under way last year, and the plan will chart the preservation of open space and the expansion of recreational opportunities. Wayfinding signs are also part of plans, which lead to points of interest in the township.

Economic development is also being focused on and involves a series of meetings with people from the state and the county, Lockwood said. He said he wants to show that Middle Township is smart with taxes, for example, and also that the municipality is perfect for new businesses.

In 2012, Township Committee adopted a zero-tax increase budget.

Also at the Jan. 3 reorganization meeting, Township Committee reappointed Marcus H. Karavan as municipal attorney, with a contract not to exceed $175,000; and Terenik Land Use Consulting as planning consultant, not to exceed $20,000.

Township Committee also ratified a three-year contract with Remington Vernick & Walberg Engineers for engineering services. The company will receive no more than $40,000.

This is the second year for Karavan and Remington, appointed after the Republicans took over the majority on Township Committee. 

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