On Thursday, December 14th, the Mahwah Township Council agenda reads:
“Ordinance 1812; Discussion”
It’s unclear what the purpose of this “discussion” will be from the agenda. Perhaps, it a signal that the day of reckoning is coming to Mahwah, and the Council will tell the Attorney General they will never pass such an ordinance.
If so, they would be wise to also remove Ordinance 1806 (which prevents Jews from neighboring Rockland County from using its parks) at the same time. After the Chief of Police, County Prosecutor and State Attorney General declared the Township cannot enforce Ordinance 1806, it became the central element of the lawsuit against the Township for discrimination by the NJ State Attorney General.
Since it has no positive benefit (it can’t even be enforced) and it’s the main thrust of the Attorney General’s case against the Town and its council, the smartest move they can make is to eat a little crow and repeal Ordinance 1806 while disavowing Ordinance 1812.
What is Ordinance 1812?
As you may recall from August, this ordinance sought to strengthen the existing sign ordinance within the Township, at the same time as the administration was sending letters to Orange and Rockland Utilities and the Eruv Association, claiming that the Eruv violated the local sign ordinance.
Here is the language of the ordinance as it was proposed back in August:
The language is identical to Upper Saddle River’s Ordinance 16-15 (which is what USR claims is the basis to deny the BREA’s request to install an Eruv) and this discussion in Mahwah was taking place as an Eruv request was pending there.
Here are Mahwah’s 1812 and USR’s 16-15 side by side:
Therefore it came as no surprise that part of the complaint the Attorney General filed against the Township of Mahwah cited Ordinance 1812 as evidence of discriminatory intent. In fact, on advice of their attorney Brian Chewcaskie, ordinance 1812 was tabled at the meeting of August 10th. The Minutes which were posted this week reflect that:
Will Council President Robert Hermansen have the stomach to do the right thing and remove Ordinance 1806 while disavowing Ordinance 1812, after the rank animus exhibited by the council and several hundred residents?
We will see on Thursday.