Hi, I’m Doug Card. I’m asking for your VOTE and support as Highlands Mayor on November 8th. I want to share with you the key areas I have worked on during my past 2-1/2 years on Council. As mayor I will continue this focus. I love this gem of a town! Let’s keep this momentum going!
I hold a position of zero tolerance for code violations if we want Highlands to fill our empty storefronts and draw people in. We need to show pride in our community and a respect for other property owners. This was a high priority for me when I was elected on council – and it still is. The new 2016 Master Plan Re-Examination Draft once again recommends code enforcement and property maintenance – and I fully intend to implement that requirement.
Highlands had an inventory of over 600 abandoned properties before Sandy. In 2015 Highlands implemented a Vacant Property Registry when we made our Code Enforcer full-time to aggressively address this issue. Absentee property owners and banks are being chased. This pressure of writing up violations has resulted in 3 properties sold for rebuild; 1 sold for demo; 1 demo done by the boro; and 18 more properties issued violations for unsafe structures tagged for demolition by the boro. I strongly support this effort.
I will demand a 10% decrease from department heads before even looking at the first budget draft. Highlands needs to stop wasteful spending and change its purchasing behavior. These areas are now getting reviewed by our new BA hired in June 2016. Our purchasing agent now demands processed purchase orders before any invoice shows up on the Payment of Bills. Our CFO is correcting line item categories so expenses are properly identified and itemized. These actions were not in place before I came on Council. I am committed to lowering expenses in all departments without eliminating services that the residents of Highlands expect.
Grants, Grants, Grants
No other way to say it. Highlands needs to up its game and apply to the county, state and federal for all available funding opportunities. Utilizing the resources and skill sets of our recently hired personnel and current Council we can make this happen. I will focus on this weekly to make sure deadlines are met and applications filed.
Shadow Lawn Density – Master Plan
I strongly believe our current zoning ordinance is more than sufficient for an interested developer to invest in that property. Our current ordinance allows for viable development now – beyond what exists at that location – with the desired benefit of ratables. I have read the Jennings court ruling about spot zoning and the known slump block. The amount of engineer review by agencies would protect – and possibly strengthen – the dynamics of a slump block. I do want to see that property developed, as I believe we all do; but I am not comfortable with the planned changes to please one property owner and certain members of the appointed board. I also have a legal concern that the town might be placed in jeopardy if the new Master Plan Re-Examination language does not reflect our current ordinance.
Lease of the Clam Depuration Plant
I will keep fighting for the Clammers. I sat in those negotiations as the representing council member. There were serious concerns on part of the governing body that clammers were getting a raw deal. At first the Bayman’s Association portrayed me as the bad guy until they realized that on behalf of the town I was fighting for the clammers – AND fighting for the town to renew a lease of market value for town property. A lot of division at the table and even in town because of this. It was a 2 year process working with 2 different BA’s and town attorneys. I was a driver and facilitator in those discussions. It turned into a win-win situation where everyone will walk away satisfied. That negotiated contract should be signed by year end. I take pride in being part of that outcome and positive change for the clammers.
Pumps and Flooding
Storm Water Management to mitigate flooding will be one of my highest priorities. I work closely with all engineers and drawing plans where my mechanical expertise and oversight have saved Highlands thousands of billable dollars for T&M time.
- Update: Valley Street Pump Station has been a problem for many years when it was not repaired properly. A project plan with approved bonding sat on a shelf – with engineering paid – but never executed. This year we placed it before the DOT for additional funding at the same time Governor Christie froze those state funds with his 23 cent gas tax. The last 30 feet of pipe going into the Valley St pump have now completely failed and are under emergency repair as Phase 1. It was discovered that preventive maintenance was not implemented so contracts are being negotiated to keep this a permanent fix. We will approach the DOT again to complete Phase 2 of this project.
- Update: Jones Creek seawall and storm water management gate are in disrepair. Our new DPW Supervisor recognized this as another area that did not have preventive maintenance in place. That request for repair is getting introduced to Council. Our DPW Supervisor also discovered 3 new duck bills hidden behind miscellaneous parts in the DPW yard. He is evaluating which outfall pipes they will be used for.
- Update: Captain’s Cove is in ongoing litigation and I cannot say anything about that – other than it is on my radar to get the issue resolved.