By DON STINE
Neptune officials are preparing a nonbinding referendum question which will ask residents whether they want to have permit parking for the first time in the historic district.
But even if permit parking were to become a reality it’s skeptical whether there would be enough parking spaces for everyone who wants one.
Initial input, some details are still vague, calls for permit parking to be in place from May 15 to Sept. 15 next year, most likely on alternate sides of the side streets. Whether it will be for a trial run or permanent is still an issue to be decided while preparing the ordinance.
However, the deadline to submit a referendum to county officials for the November ballot is Aug. 18, which means an ordinance approving the referendum will have to be quickly written and then introduced at the next July 24 Township Committee meeting. It would then be voted on at the Aug. 14 meeting.
“It will be tough,” Township Attorney Gene Anthony said at this week’s meeting.
He said even defining who is a full-time resident and can be issued a permit may be an issue.
“It may be a little more complicated so it will be a challenge to prepare it and educate the public (by the deadline),” he said.
Anthony said all township residents would be able to vote on the referendum, adding that wording saying the permits are only for Ocean Grove could probably be included in the statement.
Some residents said they don’t even see the point of a referendum and that the governing body should just more forward with a permit program. Residents said other towns have implemented similar permit parking systems without going to a referendum.
And exactly how it will work in Neptune seems to still be up in the air.
“This is difficult,” Mayor Michael Brantley said.
Brantley said that a referendum for this November may not be practical given the time constraints and that a parking permit process could move forward without a referendum.
“We need to decide if a referendum is good or not so it is still up in the air about the referendum. We don’t have much time and we need to flush a lot of things out first,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Nick Williams said that there needs to be some specifics in the referendum question, such as the cost of the permits and other information.
“Where do we go with this? What do we do with it and how do we work it out? We need to iron things out before the referendum,” he said.
Anthony said that he agrees with Williams.
“It can be whatever you want the referendum to read but, in this case, cost may be important,” he said.
And other questions were raised.
One Ocean Grove resident said that, with all of the condominium units near his house, the street still wouldn’t have enough permit parking for everyone.
But, in the end, the governing body voted to have Anthony prepare a ballot question by the next meeting. Whether it will move forward remains unclear.
“I think maybe we should take a shot at it and, if it can’t be done, at least we gave it a try. Let’s see what we come up with,” Brantley said.
Committeewoman Carol Rizzo said it is important to get as much input from the community while the ordinance is being drafted.
“Let’s see if it can be put on a referendum and let the people in the town decide,” she said.