After a presentation by the Environmental Commission, the Byram Township Council agreed for the Planning Board to give input regarding an ordinance limiting impervious coverage percentages in Byram Township.
Environmental Commission Chair (EC) Kathleen Parrish presented a request for an ordinance limiting the amount of impervious coverage on different sized lots in Byram at the council’s last meeting. She said the ordinance would help prevent run-off of pesticides and herbicides into lakes, rivers, streams, and protect the drinking water. Impervious surfaces prevent rain water from passing through, including: driveways, paved rock ways, decks, swimming pools, additions, and patios.
When residents apply for a patio or addition, Parrish explained, the ordinance would consider the percentage of impervious surface being added to the entire property, or if the property is near a body of water. Additionally, she said, ways to prevent run-off would be to require rain gardens, dry wells, or retention basins.
During discussion, Deputy Mayor Rayond Bonker said he appreciated the EC volunteer efforts to make Byram a better town, and the EC should educate residents about best practices. Furthermore, he said, he is philosophically opposed to any further infringement on private property rights. He said he prefers giving people maximum private property rights, minimizing government, and not the other way around. No matter how well intentioned those efforts may sound, Bonker added, he will actively oppose any ordinance which attempts to further weaken private property rights.
Councilwoman Cris Franco agreed about not restricting usage of private property rights, and she said she understands there should be some guidance.
Mayor Alexander Rubenstein asked how many quarter acre lots would comply today with the numbers being proposed in the ordinance. After calculations, he determined that the maximum amount of impervious coverage for a quarter acre would be around 1,570 square feet, which he said seemed restrictive, and nobody could comply with today.
Rubenstein also agreed that the proposed ordinance placed many restrictions on what people can do with their private property, and he wants people to be able to enjoy their property. He said that he did not like introducing an ordinance which restricts what every person on the lake front is able to do.
Councilman Jack Gallagher said 95 percent of the people who live on the lake pay attention to what they are doing to the lake. He also was not in favor of the proposed ordinance.
Councilman Harvey Roseff recommended sending the ordinance idea to the Planning Board for their input.