VINELAND – At their debate in the Ramada Inn here today, Mayor Perry Barse defended his administration’s master plan process in the face of an attack by opponent Robert Romano, who cited a judge’s ruling that the process was not transparent.
"The planning board had 16 open public meetings, held in Vineland City Council meetings, with opportunities for emails and phone-ins," said Barse. "We started the process a year ahead of time. The Vineland City Council chambers were full of residents, and many more watching at home. That’s my opinion."
Romano stuck with the judge’s decision.
"There were no citizens on the group that drew up the master plan," said the challenger. "The citizens of Vineland were not involved in any of the decision-making. I’m not saying they should run City Hall, but they should be involved."
The contest’s second challenger, Girone sided with Romano against Barse.
"You don’t create ad hoc committees to turn around to advise yourself," he said of the master plan process. "I’ll leave it at that."
Barse stood by the process, citing a report prepared by the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, which praised the Vineland master plan process and specifically noted "high levels of public participation."