Sept. 12 Hearing

The Local Finance Board is scheduled to continue hearing the application for a municipal consolidation study for Scotch Plains and Fanwood on Sept. 12 at the state Department of Community Affairs building in Trenton.

Scotch Plains activist believes key to lower taxes is merger with Fanwood

This article originally appeared in The Star-Ledger

SCOTCH PLAINS — Fred Lange, a grandfather and amateur magician, was just enjoying his retirement.

Really. The Scotch Plains man, who’s pushing 80 but could pass for a lot younger, was living out his days with his wife, Doris, and paying no mind to local politics.

But that all changed a few years ago with a simple idea. What if, he wondered after hearing a presentation on the topic, his town merged with neighboring Fanwood? What if communities across the state did the same?

That could drive down property taxes and attract new companies to the Garden State, he surmised.

“This would be great for New Jersey — to be able to have more manufacturing, more business,” he said.

With that, he went from observer to activist. Now he’s the front man for a citizen-driven movement to consolidate the two towns, and his push is irritating some people along the way — even politicians who respect his ultimate goal of tax relief.

Lange, with guidance from a group called Courage to Connect New Jersey, rounded up about 30 volunteers and spent months collecting the signatures of voters from both towns. With more than 1,000 names, he was able to harness a 2007 state law and force a series of public hearings on the topic of consolidation. The last was held Monday.

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This article originally appeared in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch

Both sides of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood consolidation debate testified in front of the Local Finance Board last Wednesday.

The hearing, held at the Department of Community Affairs building in Trenton, lasted about an hour and saw a comprehensive discussion about the proposed Municipal Consolidation Study Commission.

According to the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Law of 2007, three public hearings were mandated before Courage to Re-connect, the organization in favor of consolidating Scotch Plains and Fanwood, could move forward with a consolidation study. These took place in mid-June and early-July and elicited an impassioned reaction from residents.

Prior to the public hearing, Courage to Re-connect had to get 10 percent of voters in Scotch Plains and Fanwood who voted in the last general election to sign the petition, as well as a committee of five petitioners from each municipality to sign the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Municipal Consolidation Application, which was presented to the Local Finance Board Wednesday.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the board heard testimony from Executive Director of N.J. Courage to Connect Gina Genovese, Courage to Re-connect Founder Fred Lange, and Don Parisi, a member of the coalition.

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