Municipal merger moves

The State Local Finance Board gave its unanimous approval this morning of an application calling for the creation of a municipal consolidation commission for Roxbury and Mount Arlington.

Representatives of both communities will be appointed to serve on the commission, which will undertake a comprehensive study into the pros and cons of consolidation.

Chris Rogers, a Roxbury resident who is among the petitioners, was among a group of residents from both towns who attended the meeting today to show support.

“We are thrilled that our application has been approved,” Rogers said. “Now the hard work begins. We are eager to form the consolation commission and move to the next step in the state-mandated process.”

“The solution is to provide benefits for both townships and then let the public decide in the election process,” added Craig Heard, another Roxbury resident and petitioner.

Citizens representing Roxbury and Mount Arlington submitted nearly 400 signed petitions last year to clerks in both municipalities calling for the municipal consolidation study commission. It would comprise five residents of each town.

The process, which follows the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Law, is similar to what is now taking place in Scotch Plains and Fanwood, which formed their consolidation commission in early 2013 in partnership with local elected officials.

The effort to gather petition signatures began October 2012, with residents from both towns meeting to discuss the petition process.

Roxbury and Mount Arlington are not the first to pursue this initiative. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township conducted the study in 2011, and consolidated on January 1, 2013. The merged town has more than $3 million in tax savings and has received positive feedback from residents.

The petitioners received voluntary support from Courage to Connect New Jersey, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that helps citizens and government leaders through the state-mandated consolidation process.

Gina Genovese, executive director of the organization, said the petitioners in Roxbury and Mount Arlington have worked diligently over two years to push the process forward. “This is an extremely knowledgeable group of petitioners who have carefully deliberated if they should pursue a consolidation commission,” Genovese said. “Today is a historic moment, as Roxbury and Mount Arlington now formerly explore if they are better as one municipality.”

Petitioners from Roxbury include Craig Heard, Ralph Nappi, Virginia Mushinski, Maureen Castriotta and Chris Rogers. Petitioners from Mount Arlington: Gene Paradiso, Marlene Ackerman, Gayle Ann Livecchia, Nancy Absalon and Mark Absalon.


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