North Bergen cracks down on pet waste

Commissioners also designate area in need of redevelopment

Anyone caught leaving pet waste behind will face a $200 fine, starting April 30.
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Anyone caught leaving pet waste behind will face a $200 fine, starting April 30.

At the most recent North Bergen Board of Commissioners meeting, a unanimous vote approved doubling fines for pet owners who don’t properly clean up their furry friends’ deposits.

The fines were doubled from $100 to $200, in an effort to cut down on pet waste in public areas. Township officials cited the problem as ongoing despite the current penalties and awareness efforts.

The fine increase will go into effect on April 30.

“Two hundred dollars is generally a pretty steep fine to hit somebody with, and we can always increase it if we find it doesn’t work,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco, noting that complaints are on the rise.

Dog waste in public spaces poses a health risk, and runs off into storm water drains when it rains, contributing to the pollution of nearby streams and rivers.

“We’ve been getting more complaints than usual in our help desk,” Sacco said. “We increased our signage, and sent letters to all licensed dog owners in North Bergen. We’re stepping up our CCTV surveillance, and on social media we issued some health campaign ads on pet waste with our health director, Janet Castro.”

Thirty pet stations throughout North Bergen have a supply of plastic bags that Department of Public Works employees refill routinely, eliminating the “forgot a bag” excuse for residents who fail to pick up after their pets.

Residents who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting approved the measure. A few cited neighborhoods littered with waste on a daily basis.

The Department of Public Works’s Broom and Barrel program dispatches six part-time employees to tidy up streets. The beat covers high-traffic areas, and workers will go on-site in response to calls from residents.

Police Chief Robert Dowd said that the department would dispatch foot patrols on dog-dropping beats, noting that the biggest challenge is catching a perpetrators in the act of neglecting to clean up.

Planning board to decide on proposed redevelopment area

A North Bergen lot at 6800 Columbia Avenue was determined by the Board of Commissioners to be in need of redevelopment, according to the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

The only building within the area is Terrace Apartments, a senior housing facility owned by the North Bergen Housing Authority. According to planners, 1930s-era water and sewer infrastructure makes the lot an area in need of rehabilitation.

Sewage infrastructure has been a major issue in North Bergen’s master plan. The combined sewerage system overflows into nearby bodies of water during heavy rain. Suez, the water company that services North Bergen, recently vowed to replace 25 percent of its lead service lines throughout the township. Suez determined that North Bergen’s water supply has high levels of lead.

By deeming the area as one in need of redevelopment, North Bergen may encourage capital investment in the lot. Some tax exemptions apply to developers who fix up the infrastructure in sites they want to develop.

The next planning board meeting is scheduled for May 7, at 7 p.m., at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard.

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