At this evening’s council meeting, we will vote on ordinance 21-2022:
ADOPTING A REVISION AND CODIFICATION OF THE ORDINANCES OF THE TOWNSHIP OF TEANECK
When the Township Council passes a law, we do so by ordinance. Each ordinance lasts until it is removed.
That creates problems, such as when the State makes an update that pre-empts a local law.
Sometimes this type of State Law rule change is benign: A Teaneck-specific hands-free car phone use ordinance was passed decades ago. When the State of NJ passed a similar State statute, it nullified ours, but because it was duplicative, nothing much changed as far as practice went (other than police citing a different rule when issuing a summons).
Sometimes, this type of State Law rule change is not benign: A resident called me a few years back because their neighbor had a pool without a fence and our code mandated fences around all pools — and they feared the worst for their kids and others. Except, it turns out that NJ adopted the universal construction code standards (UCC), which brought with it the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (as revised) of the International Residential Code (see sub-section iv of section 23 on page 122. Therefore, above-ground pools with locking ladders of a certain height (48 inches) no longer required such enclosures.
Further – our local code was pre-empted by State law (NJSA 52:27D-123.1), so we could not rely on the text of our code.
Sometimes, things fall through the cracks: A few years back, we were sued over a rule that was literally repealed in the early 1970s — but no one ever checked to make sure it was repealed from the actual codebook.
There are other reasons, but these are more than enough to act — and the action is simple: Check from time to time that the code is correct.
Town Council takes action
After realizing that many areas of the code were potentially problematic, I request funding in the budget to submit our code to General Code (a company that handles this type of task for municipalities), so that every section, every paragraph, and every citation, could be reviewed for compliance.
And then, we received the document below (see pdf for Editorial Analysis), where over 250 pages of potential edits were reviewed to ensure we were in compliance with State codes and that anything that should (or shouldn’t) be in the code was (or wasn’t) there, as appropriate.
The final passage of this ordinance (21-2022) will bring us to date. After this, I’ve requested quarterly funding for a mini-codification, so we never fall decades behind again.
If there’s anything government should be required to ensure, it’s this: these are our laws. They are accurate as written and provided here.
We couldn’t say that for the last 50-60 years.