Weekly Roundup: Week of Sept. 23

TRENTON – It’s been described as New Jersey’s version of the Wild West.  No.  We’re not talking about the campaign trails.

We’re talking about jitney service.

This week began with an Assembly Transportation road show. The panel met in Hoboken.  It was in Hudson County this year that one of the more tragic accidents in recent memory occurred.

A jitney struck a lamp pole, which hit and killed an 8-month-old child in a stroller.

There were allegations that the jitney driver was on a cell phone at the time.

The committee met to receive testimony about the conditions under which jitney services operate, and it was eye-opening.

Witnesses testified of a wild West mentality as operators of the small buses compete for passengers and territory.

One bill under consideration would increase the amount of insurance a company must carry from $10,000 to $1.5 million.

But some panel members raised the basic question: Can any legislation prevent a driver from staying off their cell phone?

 

Landfill suit 

The state filed suit against the owners of a Morris County landfill this week, alleging fraud and misappropriation of millions of dollars.

The suit is on the heels of one filed by the Fenimore Landfill owners against the state and others in August.

The landfill in Roxbury has been at the center of controversy for some time.  Residents and local officials testified this year of odors emanating from the property.

On the day that Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill regulating so-called “legacy’’ landfills, the Department of Environmental Protection descended on the site to take over.

And that led to this week’s action by the Attorney General, whose office is seeking more than $4 million in civil penalties as well as other remedies.

 

Dune settlement 

A legal battle over compensation regarding a dune easement at the Shore ended this week with an agreement between the property owners and the state.

The couple involved in the Harvey Cedars case had claimed at one time in a lawsuit that they had suffered $2 million in property damage.

The battle ended this week in a settlement of $1.

According to the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Protection, the settlement has “far-reaching implications” for the state as officials continue efforts to construct dunes along New Jersey’s coast following the destruction of Superstorm Sandy.

The town used the power of eminent domain to build a 22-foot dune for protection at the Shore.

In a trial, a jury had awarded the owners $375,000, but the state Supreme Court overturned that verdict and ordered a new trial.

This week’s settlement was the result.

 

Housing decision

A long-awaited state Supreme Court ruling on affordable housing finally arrived this week, and could have repercussions for years.

The court essentially gave the state five months to develop rules that will kick-start affordable housing development around the state.

The state has to devise regulations consistent with the famous – or infamous, depending on one’s point of view – 1970s Mount Laurel decision, which said it is unconstitutional for towns to resist providing housing that lower-income residents can afford.

Staci Berger of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey said that the housing market is out of balance in the state. “It’s as if there was a supermarket selling only caviar and filet mignon.  It needs to sell tuna fish, too.’’   

Weekly Roundup: Week of Sept. 23