Belleville Mayor Michael Melham and the Township Council will resume in-person meetings beginning in May.
Council members Vinny Cozzarelli, Naomy De Peña, John Notari, Steve Rovell and Marie Strumolo-Burke; Deputy Mayor Thomas Graziano; and Mayor Michael Melham voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 21-111, which calls for their meetings to be held in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
The vote at the April 27 meeting comes after Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 230 on March 11, which expanded indoor and outdoor capacity for venues such as casinos and college athletic events but specifically exempted proceedings of local government for capacity limits and gatherings.
Belleville’s in-person meetings will resume with the combined Council conference and regular public meeting on May 11 at 6 p.m. However, members of the public and Council members will still have the option of participating via telephone.
The Mayor and Council met regularly in Town Hall chambers on the second floor until March 2020, when Murphy issued a series of executive orders aimed at limiting indoor gatherings in response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Municipalities across New Jersey quickly moved to host their meetings telephonically or via teleconference technology such as Zoom.
Murphy cited the widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as a major reason he is relaxing many restrictions.
“I think there is a feeling that we communicate better, are more productive and serve the residents of Belleville best when we are all in the same room,” Melham said. “This is not to say that we won’t continue to exercise caution. But, since the executive order does not prohibit in-person Mayor and Council meetings or put capacity restrictions on them, we are going to resume our traditional format for those who are comfortable being there.”