A years-long debate over a half-mile stretch of road in Cinnaminson could soon be resolved.
Back in 1996, committee passed an ordinance to dedicate Westfield Drive—a private drive which runs through Westfield Leas, a 55-and-over community off Route 130—as a public road. The development, which has about 140 residents, was built in 1985.
Mayor Anthony Minniti said the homeowner’s association has insisted for years the township had accepted the road, but it wasn’t indicated on the tax map and for years no one—neither township officials nor the association—could find the documents to prove it.
“It was like a needle in a haystack,” Minniti said of the search for the documents.
Then, in December, the association found a copy of an ordinance passed by committee on Dec. 18, 1996, accepting Westfield Drive as a public road.
Problem was, the language in the resolution was vague, and alluded to ancillary documents—“exhibit A”—that, again, no one could find. Solicitor John Gillespie also pointed out that there is no evidence the resolution was ever recorded by the county clerk’s office, which is another necessary step.
“With no follow-up, that ordinance really isn’t valid,” Minniti said. “The township has no obligation at this point.”
Nonetheless, officials agree the intent was there for the township to assume responsibility of the road, Minniti said. He explained committee is now taking steps to rectify the situation.
“We’re going to fulfill the promise made by committee in 1996,” he said. “We want to work with the condo association to see that what was intended … is done, and is done properly.”
Minniti said that involves repealing the original ordinance and drafting a new, clearer one that outlines specifically what the township is responsible for and what the association is responsible for.
Association president Alan Bates pledged to work with committee to resolve the matter, but expressed concern over its intent to repeal the ordinance.
Minniti assured Bates, however, that the repeal was only taking place to clear the slate for a new ordinance: “We want to do it. But we want to do it the right way.”
Minniti called it a “unique situation” and said it’s important for the township to get it right because it sets a precedent for accepting these types of roadways.
Assuming all goes according to plan and the township accepts Westfield Drive as a public road, the township would be responsible for paving and road repairs—i.e. potholes, which Bates said are his primary concern. The township already pays the association to plow the road.Minniti said the impact on the township’s capital programs budget and Public Works workload would be relatively insignificant.