Q&A: What About Advisory Committees?

 

Q With the huge growth of condo and co-op units in New Jersey, it is long overdue  for municipalities to form advisory committees to better serve those  communities with input on the special needs of condo, co-op owners and renters.  I know of only one community, Hackensack, that has such an advisory committee.  Are there any others? And what are you thoughts as to the need for such  municipal advisory committees and the missions could serve?  

          —Just Curious  

A “There is a practical and ongoing need for dialogue between the elected council  of a municipality and those citizens serving as volunteer members of community  association boards,” says Samuel J. McNulty, a partner with the New Jersey law firm of Hueston  McNulty, P.C. “When I served as an elected councilman in Florham Park, New Jersey, I was the  council liaison to the Housing Committee for that borough. The borough was  required to form and keep a Housing Committee by applicable land use law. The function of the committee was primarily to coordinate the affordable housing  units that had been created in the municipality. This included ensuring that  persons seeking to purchase the units were economically qualified and that the  administrator of the program was responsive to the needs of the persons in the  program. We expanded the function of the committee by affirmatively reaching out to the  boards of the several condominium associations that were located in Florham  Park. We scheduled meetings with the elected board members and their property  managers to open a direct line of communication between them and the borough  council. It was an effective initiative.  

 “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has initiated changes to the affordable  housing obligations of New Jersey municipalities. While his systemwide  re-evaluation of this government function moves forward, it would be  appropriate for those New Jersey municipalities who have already established  their Housing Committees to expand those committee’s functions as we did in Florham Park.  

 “A letter, telephone call or email is all that is needed for a governing body to  initiate a meeting and to provide a valuable communication vehicle between  elected officials and elected community association leaders. Topics that arose in Florham Park’s outreach to community association leaders included municipal services  reimbursement issues; coordination of action to maintain sidewalks and boundary  areas in the “no-man’s land” between the association and public property; fire and water service issues and  even outreach by the municipality for volunteers for municipal committees. It was well worth it for both parties.”  

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