Morristown officials may have found cure for those late night zoning board meetings

Cots like these, used by U.S. sailors, could be coming to town hall. Photo: Stripes.com
Cots like these, used by U.S. sailors, could be coming to town hall. Photo: Stripes.com
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A portion of the town hall seniors center, shown here at the annual seniors Christmas party, soon may do double-duty as a dorm. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
A portion of the town hall seniors center, shown here at the annual seniors Christmas party, soon may do double-duty as a dorm. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Morristown town hall seniors center, which provided temporary refuge to residents in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, may be pressed into service again.

Concerned over the increasing length of zoning board meetings, Morristown officials are considering converting a portion of the center into a dormitory for board members’ use, Morristown Green has learned.

Folding cots would enable board members to catch some sleep in town hall after public hearings that typically stretch past midnight.

Residents line up with questions for zoning board near midnight in 2014. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Residents line up with questions for zoning board near midnight in 2014. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

This arrangement, believed to be the first of its kind in the state, and possibly the country, is intended as a safety measure.

“We really don’t want bleary-eyed board members having to risk driving home after sitting through six hours of testimony about sight lines, setbacks and façades,” said a person in town hall, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

As Morristown’s desirability has grown, so have demands on the the town’s zoning and planning boards. The number and duration of meetings have spiked dramatically over the last few years.

Zoning board Chairman Cary Lloyd could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. At a recent meeting, however, he pleaded with residents who were upset that he was adjourning at midnight:

“Please, folks! It’s getting late.”

SHOWERS AND SNACKS

Morristown zoning board Attorney David Brady sifts mountains of paperwork from a proposed daycare center. Board Chairman Cary Lloyd sits to his right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown zoning board Attorney David Brady sifts mountains of paperwork from a proposed daycare center. Board Chairman Cary Lloyd sits to his right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Preliminary plans call for installation of showers in the third-floor seniors center, and vending machines with snacks and toiletries, according to the person in town hall.

Some of the renovations would be performed by inmates from the Morris County Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (S.L.A.P.), to control costs, according to the plans.

In something of an ironic twist, the town is contemplating a daycare component as well.  The zoning board has had numerous marathon hearings involving proposed daycare centers.

“A play space here will allow board members to spend some quality time with their children before the meetings, maybe share dinner from the vending machines,” said the source at town hall.

PSSST...YOU'RE SNORING!  Five-hour meetings have become de rigueur for the Morristown zoning board. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
PSSST…YOU’RE SNORING! Five-hour meetings have become de rigueur for the Morristown zoning board. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“We’ve been getting complaints from spouses that all the meetings are creating problems at home.  We can’t afford to lose these volunteer members; we’re hoping this helps.”

Town officials are said to be awaiting approvals from the state. The dormitory is likely to need a zoning variance, because town hall is not zoned for residential use.

To avoid conflicts, that matter may be heard by Morris Township’s board of adjustment, our source said.

“We’re pretty confident. We think the state would view this use as ‘inherently beneficial.'”

READ THE PRELIMINARY DORMITORY PLANS

 TRES CONFORTABLE: Residents relax overnight in town hall seniors center in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
TRES CONFORTABLE: Residents relax overnight in town hall seniors center in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. This is really funny. Most things this April Fools Day haven’t been as creative. Thanks for the laughs.

  2. We have simply lost it completely. I say give us a schedule for sweeping and washing our 2nd Ward streets. Mr. James Golden, previously employed by the town for 50 some years worked by schedule and the entire town of residents knew exactly what day he would be on their street and how to move vehicles for the sweeping or washing. If it worked… continue. I think training the employees to adequately put water in the machine for washing and sweeping from curb to curb will be more beneficial to our town, much cleaner for sure. The business district needs cleaning as well ALL others streets. Lets work on getting overnight commercial vehicles from residential neighborhoods.
    Sleep overnight…spend time with their families….we have truly lost it! Simply explain to our volunteers what is expected and hours expected could consist of. I think this comment is just too sensible.

  3. Can the ever suffering residents subjects to the never ending testimony from developers experts intent on increasing their billable hours, share in the use of the facilities? Great April Fool article but it does open up one’s mind up to the endless possibilities available here in Morristown.

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