Mount Laurel bandied at Cranford reorg meeting

Photo by Jenny Goldberg
Tom Hannen, right, takes the oath of office as Cranford mayor from Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders Vice Chairman Bette Jane Kowalski.

CRANFORD, NJ — Cranford Mayor Tom Hannen took the oath for his second term in office at the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting Jan. 2, with an audience that included senior state and county officials.

In addition to a large contingent from the Cranford police and fire departments, Republican state Senate minority leader Tom Kean, of the 21st District, also was present, along with Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, a Democrat from the 34th District and father of Commissioner Patrick Giblin, who was sworn in for his second three-year term.

Following an invocation led by Rev. Thomas Rice of the Cranford Alliance Church, and a flag salute, commissioners Patrick Giblin and Jean-Albert Maisonneuve were sworn into their positions by Union County Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski.
The pair together defeated former mayor and incumbent Andis Kalnins and Richard Buontempo to give Democrats a 4-1 majority on the committee, with Mary O’Connor the lone Republican.

Maisonneuve, who successfully ran against former Commissioner and Mayor Andis Kalnins, was sworn in for his first, three-year term.
The committee chose Ann Dooley to replace Giblin as deputy mayor on the five-member board.

Wishing everyone a happy new year, Maisonneuve thanked everyone for coming out to the meeting.
“I do look forward with working with all the other commissioners and other department heads of Cranford,” he said.
O’Connor congratulated her colleagues on their appointments and thanked Kalnins for his commitment to Cranford for the past six years.
She also referred to Mount Laurel housing, an issue that has long been sore point in the town with regard to Birchwood and Hartz Mountain property projects.

“People leave urban sectors to come to Cranford for reasons to get away from the density and pace of city life,” she said. “Our approach to development has to keep that in mind. We can create affordable housing opportunities while maintaining local control over planning and zoning boards. It needs to be top priority for the Cranford Township Committee.”

Giblin agreed with O’Connor and pointed — as he did during the campaign — to the state Legislature for relief.
“One of the biggest threats facing Cranford is trying to meet the affordable housing obligations within the infrastructure and space that we have,” he said. “It was a very big topic during the last election, and it is a problem that needs to be addressed in Trenton.

“Right now we are at the mercy of the courts, and we can’t be at the mercy of the courts to impose large developments in our town.”
Along with the many oaths for elected offices, the committee also voted to reappoint Judge Mark J. Cassidy to the township’s Municipal Court, and the oath was administered by his wife, Superior Court Judge Karen M. Cassidy. Mark Cassidy was first selected as the township’s municipal judge in July 2008.