Village Offices Closed to the Public – Services Will Continue

All municipal offices and facilities will be closed to the public, in-person, until further notice.At this time, our staff will remain available through phone, email and our website SouthOrange.org. While we are limiting in-person interactions with staff, they are prepared and eager to continue serving residents in a safe way.

 

Additional, Governor Murphy has announced the official COVID-19 Information Hub for the State of New Jersey where you can find the latest news, guidance, resources, and support hereInformation from the Centers for Disease Control can be found here.

Heard Around Town: Frequently Asked Questions by Category

Village Services - What services are currently offered?

  • Most Village Services are available online, by phone or mail. Appointments can be made for Marriage License Application (forms available online, but in-person application required), Vital Records Application (there is a procedure for applying via USPS), Raffle (Games of Chance) Application, and Liquor License Renewals and Transfers.
  • The Township is unable to accept cash for any transactions including, taxes, sewer fees, permits, etc. Payment may be made online, over the phone, check by mail or left in the drop box at Village Hall.
  • Residents wishing to deliver documents, applications, etc. may do so utilizing the drop box at Village Hall.

How do I contact the departments in the Village?

  • Administration will still be available through phone and e-mail.
  • The Tax Assessor will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. In-person consultations will continue after the State of Emergency.
  • Building Department/Code Enforcement will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United States Postal Service. No inspections will be conducted for the remainder of March. Permits and payments can be dropped off in a box in Village Hall. Please note that the department is in contact with the Division of Consumer Affairs for guidance on certificates of continued occupancy.
  • Clerk’s Office encourages residents to utilize their online forms for most services. Appointments can be made for Marriage License Application (forms available online, but in-person application required), Vital Records Application (there is a procedure for applying via USPS), Raffle (Games of Chance) Application, and Liquor License Renewals and Transfers.
  • Engineering/Zoning will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United States Postal Service. In-person consultations will continue after the State of Emergency.
  • The Office of Emergency Management will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail.
  • The Tax Collector will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to pay tax and sewer bills online. There will also be a drop box located in 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302 for payments. No cash payments will be accepted.

Is there a way for me to stay up to date on what is happening in the Village?

Communications

Where can I find up to date information with regard to South Orange Village?

Is there a way for me to stay up to date on what is happening in the Village?

Does the State of New Jersey have a website dedicated to COVID-19?

Yes, please go to the New Jersey COVID-19 Informational Hub.

Fire & Emergency Services

Are emergency services still functioning?

Police, Fire, and EMS emergency services will continue uninterrupted and 9-1-1 emergency lines will be available and answered at all times.

 

 

 

Government and Policies

Are local government meetings still being held? What about committees and advisory boards?

  • Virtual meetings are being held via WebEx. Visit the Village’s online calendar here. Please remember to click on the meeting you wish you access and you will be provided instructions. Any meeting of the governing body will continue to follow protocols of the Open Public Meetings Act and be publicly noticed.

What if my organization still wants to meet in person?

  • Governor Murphy announced a statewide Stay-At-Home Order directing all residents to stay home until further notice. The order does provide exceptions, such as obtaining essential goods or services and seeking medical attention. If you want to have a meeting, do it over the phone or computer.

Are Village committee meetings still happening? How can I attend?

  • All Board of Trustee, Board of Adjustment, and Planning Board meetings can be viewed online. Residents who do not attend and are watching online can submit comments and questions for public comments by e-mailing:
    • PBQuestion@SouthOrange.org (Planning Board)
    • BOTQuestion@SouthOrange.org (Board of Trustees)
    • ZBAQuestion@SouthOrange.org (Zoning Board)

Health & Testing

Can I utilize other Health Department services during COVID-19?

How is the Health Department handling COVID-19?

  • The Village’s Health Department will be fully staffed and closely monitoring any local cases or situations as well as keeping informed and notifying our community about the most current information, restrictions, guidelines and recommendations from Federal, State, County and international officials and agencies.

Where can I get tested if I suspect that I have COVID-19?

  • New Jersey has a list of testing sites for individuals that are experiencing symptoms.  Please refer to this list.

For people who test positive, are you telling their neighbors? School?

  • Per Privacy laws, we will not share information related to someone’s private health status. Those that come in contact with anyone confirmed with COVID-19 will be notified by the health department, monitored, and asked to self-isolate. An infected resident will be quarantined.

How can I be helpful and neighborly while still respecting social distancing?

  • Write or call to check on others, and find ways to meet using remote access. Offer to bring groceries from your shopping trips or help with outside chores. Always remember both you and your neighbors take appropriate sanitization steps.

What are the best practices for keeping safe when getting groceries?

  • Being safe while shopping can be managed by practicing “social distancing” at the store (maintaining 6 feet of distance between others). Consider going at off-peak hours when the store may be less crowded or even better, schedule delivery. Also, please remember to wear your face covering as ordered by Governor Murphy.

Should I wear a mask when going outside?

  • The CDC has recommended the use of cloth face coverings in community settings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. There is a growing body of evidence that asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals can spread the virus. You MUST wear one when shopping at essential retail businesses, entering a restaurant or bar to pick up takeout orders, or when traveling on public transportation.

What is the best way to wear a face covering?

What if individuals are unable to get basic and health-related products?

  • Many stores are providing delivery services or ask a friend or neighbor to bring what you need. Cathy Rowe at Two Towns for All Ages may be able to direct seniors to appropriate services; call 973-558-0863. Karen Weiland at The Parent Center of South Orange Maplewood School District may be able to direct vulnerable families; call (973)762-5600 extension 1850.

What is a safe distance for joggers and bikers in the COVID19 pandemic?  

  • The CDC recommends maintaining at least a 6-foot distance from anyone while engaging in physical activity and these measures are required wherever practicable by State Executive Order and in our State, County, and Municipal parks. 
  • That said, it may be a good idea to give more thought to appropriate distancing space for exercising outside. There is one new study that looks at how air flows around bodies in motion and suggests that additional distancing may be necessary. There is also a Department of Homeland Security study that suggests ultraviolet rays could slow the virus, though not enough to wipe it out, and not as a treatment, which may impact outdoor distancing requirements. Neither study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal and so results need further confirmation. Please consider available public information as well as your own personal risk profile when making these decisions for yourself and your children.

For all the social service organizations that will be opening up, how will the village assure a testing protocol will be in place for both staff and clients?

  • There is no protocol necessary. Both staff and clients (along with the general public) may register for a test online at https://www.essexcovid.org whether they have symptoms or not. We encourage everyone to get tested, especially social service providers.

What should I do if I see other people who are not complying with safe social distancing or mask guidelines? Examples include congregating in groups, engaging in contact sports, restaurant workers without masks, etc. 

  • If you witness these or similar activities, call local police dispatch at 973.763.3000. Dispatch will determine the appropriate course of action and send a police officer or our Health Officer out to investigate. Please do not call 911 unless someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger.

May I have a copy of the PowerPoint shown at the Town Hall Meeting?

Local Businesses

Do I have to wear a mask when going into an essential business?

  • You should wear a face covering whenever you leave your home and MUST wear one when shopping at essential retail businesses, entering a restaurant or bar to pick up takeout orders, or when traveling on public transportation. For more guidance on using face coverings, refer to this article.

Is the South Orange Post Office still operating normal hours?

  • Postal Services in the United States are considered essential and are still maintaining its current hours.

Is SOPAC still open?

  • The South Orange Performing Arts Center has suspended performances through June 30 at which point a determination will be made whether additional rescheduling or cancellations will be necessary.

Are restaurants in town still open and can I order alcohol?

  • Most restaurants are open for take-out or delivery only. You can view a full listing here. Establishments that serve liquor have a waiver to provide carry-out liquor. Check with the individual bars/restaurants for more details.

Are personal service businesses such as hair salons, gyms, and spas open?

  • All personal service businesses are temporarily closed.

What if individuals are unable to get basic and health-related products?

  • Many stores are providing delivery services or ask a friend or neighbor to bring what you need. Cathy Rowe at Two Towns for All Ages may be able to direct seniors to appropriate services; call 973-558-0863. Karen Weiland at The Parent Center of South Orange Maplewood School District may be able to direct vulnerable families; call (973)762-5600 extension 1850.

Are retail stores open? I thought they were if we maintained 6 feet?

  • All non-essential retail establishments are temporarily closed. The following businesses are considered essential and are allowed to stay open:
    • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
    • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
    • Medical supply stores;
    • Gas stations;
    • Convenience stores;
    • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
    • Hardware and home improvement stores;
    • Banks and other financial institutions;
    • Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
    • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
    • Pet stores;
    • Liquor stores;
    • Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
    • Printing and office supply shops;
    • Mail and delivery stores.

New Projects and Development

Have the developers of Village Hall been in contact about how they are holding up? Does it look likely that they’ll default on construction and the town might end up taking the property over?

  • The Village Hall renovation project currently underway by Landmark Hospitality is continuing to move forward in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order regarding non-essential construction projects.

What information was found regarding Seton Hall’s proposed apartment complex?

  • Seton Hall University is conceptually considering a student housing project at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Turrell Avenue. No further information has been shared with the Village at this time. At any point that Seton Hall has a proposal, it will follow the statutory guidelines through Municipal Land Use Laws and the community will be notified.

Parking

Is the Parking Authority enforcing parking rules?

  • The Parking Authority will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to utilize their online services. Jitney service is suspended for both commuters and seniors.  All curbside meter parking is adjusted to courtesy enforcement until further notice.  All pay station lots and garages will be lightly enforced.  All prohibited and ADA parking rules will be enforced.  All permit renewal grace periods are extended until further notice.

What’s happening with the Jitney and I read that there is “light enforcement on parking”, what does that mean?

  • Jitney services are suspended until further notice. Light and courtesy enforcement means that the Parking Authority and police department are doing their best to accommodate local businesses who are adjusting to pick-up and curbside delivery. If your meter expired for a few minutes, don’t expect a ticket. This does not mean you can speed, parking in handicap spots or park overnight.

Police & Enforcement

Is the Police Department open and functioning normally?

  • Effective immediately, the South Orange Police Department is restricting in-person contact for the purpose of obtaining reports, copies of incidents, motor vehicle accident reports, etc.  They ask that you contact our Record Bureau at 973-763-3000 extensions 7782 or 7786 for assistance. They will make every effort to accommodate your request via mail, email, or fax.

What’s happening with the Jitney and I read that there is “light enforcement on parking”, what does that mean?

  • Jitney services are suspended until further notice. Light and courtesy enforcement means that the Parking Authority and police department are doing their best to accommodate local businesses who are adjusting to pick-up and curbside delivery. If your meter expired for a few minutes, don’t expect a ticket. This does not mean you can speed, park in handicap spots or park overnight.

Public Works - Trash, Landscaping & Roads

Is the Public Works Recycling Center open?

  • The Department of Public Works will continue to provide its traditional street services. However, the recycling center will be closed until further notice. All communication with residents will be made through phone and email. Please call 973-378-7741 ext 1 with any questions or email mnovak@southorange.org.

Is there still trash and recycling pick-up?

  • Curbside recycling services are provided through a Village contract with a private company. Garbage pickup is a contract between the resident and a private company. At present, the Village has not been notified of any changes to these regular services and schedules. Any changes to services will be posted on the Village website and disseminated via the Village’s SO Alert emergency notification system.

What’s the best way to know when recycling is?

  • You can check the posted schedule or download the Recycle Coach app available for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Recreation and Parks

Will recreation programs run normally?

  • The Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs has postponed all programs, meeting, and events such as adult softball, youth baseball, tae kwon do, umpire training, coaching clinics, Rutgers coaching clinic, USSI tennis programming, adult soccer, Jaguar track registration, South Mountain Soccer, naturalization ceremony, spring break baseball camps, baseball parade, senior circle meetings, and a swim team meeting. Please reach out to the department for information on enrollment. The tennis courts have been closed.

Are municipal recreation facilities open? Playgrounds, tennis, basketball?

  • South Orange parks are open for passive and no-contact recreation such as walking or jogging, doing some exercise by yourself or with your family. Please note that our police department is regularly monitoring our parks and any appearance of a gathering or overcrowding due to high demand will be dispersed. Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, and fields remain closed.

 Is the South Mountain Reservation Open? I see people there.

  • State parks and South Mountain Reservation, which is a county park, reopened at sunrise on Saturday, May 2, and county governments will regain the authority to decide whether county parks will be open or closed.  Please Note: Essex County requires all visitors to wear a mask/face covering.

What is the current plan for the opening of the town pool? Has the timing for purchasing a recreation badge been adjusted?

  • All decisions regarding the pool are still pending.

Has there been any discussion about how youth programs will be addressed such as spring/summer baseball, swim team, Baird camp, etc?

  • Baseball: We have been working with the coaches regarding baseball and will make a final decision in the coming weeks.  The decision will be based on social distancing policies.   
  • Soccer: As our teams work in conjunction with the New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS), we are awaiting a decision from that organization.  They have been keeping us updated and the status can be checked on their NJYS webpage.
  • Baird Camp/Swim Team: The Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is actively staying abreast of the State of New Jersey policies in order to recommend a direction for the Camp program and the swim team.  In order to stay ahead, they are actively working on “social distancing” plans should we open.  We hope to be able to make a final decision in June.

How come golf is available but tennis is not?

  • The NJ state government lifted the ban against playing golf for participating facilities. However, South Orange Village has elected to not allow any group recreational activities in any of its municipal parks. The parks remain open for recreational personal and family use, as long as appropriate safety measures are kept. Our police will enforce this to make sure that our community remains safe.

The Baird seems like it’s been shut for almost a year with no progress on construction. What’s happening and how will budget cuts affect the work and re-opening date?

  • The Baird Center project went out for public bid just as the virus lockdown started and now we are a little stuck as a result. The team is trying to find a way to push through this basic problem of bidders being able to visit the building to inspect it themselves. We want them to see it first hand so we get more accurate bids but we also can not violate social distancing protocols. Pete Travers has created a virtual tour that has been made available to bidders (it’s pretty cool to see) but it can not provide much of the nitty-gritty detail that bidders need. The good news is we have had many bidders show interest so we think the market will be favorable for us, the trick is getting them the detail they need to properly and fairly bid the project. Peter Travers may have more recent detail on the status of that process as he was going to coordinate walkthroughs.  We won’t have a detailed sense of what the schedule impact will be until we select a bidder and they develop a schedule specific to their crews.

South Orange Public Library

Is the library open?

I miss the library, when will it be reopened?

  • The library, in partnership with the Village, decided to close for a 14 day period at the end of business on March 14. Those are the current parameters, as are executive orders issued by the governor. Everything you may have checked out is renewed! As soon as we can open the library you can be assured we will. In the meantime, the library has things to borrow and to learn and online programming at www.sopl.org . Email librarian@sopl.org with any questions.

Is the Library offering any services while the building is closed?

  • The Library has set up virtual programming and ways to contact them virtually.  You can find out more information at the South Orange Public Library webpage or their Facebook page.

Can I call the Library and speak to a Librarian?

  • You can now call us (973-762-0230) Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10-3, or Tues and Thursday from 10-8, and speak to us directly. All reference questions, card requests, general observations welcome.

Can I call the Library and speak to a Librarian?

What is happening with the planned library renovation?

  • The team of Library Board members, Village Trustee liaison, Library, and Administration staff led by our architects H3 are currently completing the application for the NJ state library.  We are applying for a 12.7 Million grant that would fund improvements to our existing library along with enhancements to the historic Connett Library. If approved by the State Library, this construction would ultimately be funded by a combination of state, local, and private funding. The application will be submitted in June 2020 to the State Library, and we anticipate being notified in October of 2020.  If we are approved, we will start the multi-year process of planning and construction. For more detailed information, please visit the Public Library project summary page, the South Orange Library website or the SOPL Foundation website.

Transportation

What’s happening with the Jitney and I read that there is “light enforcement on parking”, what does that mean?

  • Jitney services are suspended until further notice. Light and courtesy enforcement means that the Parking Authority and police department are doing their best to accommodate local businesses who are adjusting to pick-up and curbside delivery. If your meter expired for a few minutes, don’t expect a ticket. This does not mean you can speed, parking in handicap spots or park overnight.

Is NJ Transit still running a regular schedule to NYC and Hoboken?

  • NJ Transit is still running its trains with “enhanced” schedules.  The schedule can be found here.

Taxes & Financial Concerns

I keep hearing other states are giving extensions on payments. Will I have an extension on my taxes or sewer bill?

  • Sewer bill payments were extended to May 1, 2020, and waiving interest charges made before that date. There are no changes to property taxes, they are due May 1. This comes from the State of New Jersey and is not a determination made at the local level.

How does a delay in paying taxes affect people that are paying their taxes through their mortgage payment which is in an escrow account?

  • There will be no impact if you pay your property taxes through your mortgage/bank. That should happen as normal.

With our property taxes going up, especially due to the new district school bond, what can senior citizens and other concerned residents do with regard to the escalating expected payments?

  • South Orange has invested resources into creating “age-friendly” communities to attract and retain senior citizens. While the increase to property taxes will continue (including the school bond payments which will take effect in 2021) the Village is pursuing code/zoning changes to permit more flexible housing such as home-sharing and accessory dwelling units which will help seniors augment income. The Village has also committed to developing 100 affordable housing units within the next few years and is prioritizing missing middle housing options for seniors looking for opportunities to downsize and remain in the community.
  • Senior tax freeze is a state program and normally any qualified taxpayer who files a state tax return will automatically receive an application booklet the first year they become eligible. In the absence of this, any taxpayer who turned 65years as of December 31, 2018, can request and submit an application from the state or through our offices for submission this year for the two years comparison of 2018 and 2019. There are income guidelines that change every year and it is $89,013 and $91,505 for 2018 and 2019 respectively. This application will have to be submitted annually. Tax will be frozen at the 2018 tax amount if qualified but we will still bill and collect taxes as determined by the municipality and the state will reimburse the taxpayer the difference.

Sign-Up for Emergency Alerts

The Village’s Emergency Alert Notification System allows residents to receive timely communications including phone calls (cell, home, business), text messages, and emails.

In addition, residents have the option to subscribe to non-emergency notifications relating to various Village services and issues, including parking issues, recreation sports, classes and activities, and weather alerts.

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