By Dan Moffett

    Manalapan town commissioners are moving forward with changes that will place new regulations on swales in Point Manalapan neighborhoods.
    Town Attorney Keith Davis is drafting a new ordinance that will restrict the types of trees and vegetation that homeowners can plant on swales. Mayor Pro Tem Peter Isaac proposed the restrictions because he believes too much planting, or use of the wrong plants, has contributed to the drainage problems Point Manalapan has experienced in recent years.
    Davis is modeling the town’s ordinance on similar laws enacted in Ocean Ridge and North Palm Beach.
    Town Manager Linda Stumpf said the commission plans to consult with an arborist to determine what plants do not cause drainage problems and should be permitted.
    Commissioners also are working on new rules for parking on swales to accommodate domestic help and visitors to residences.
    The town’s current law limits swale parking to four hours. Residents have complained that housekeepers often have to work longer and guests want to visit longer.
    Commissioners at the July 28 meeting gave tentative approval to extending swale parking to eight hours. The change would not apply to construction workers. Commercial service providers, such as landscapers and appliance repairmen, would be required to park in front of the home they are servicing and move their vehicles within the four-hour limit.
    Mayor David Cheifetz offered a suggestion for workers who need more than four hours to finish their jobs. “We all have driveways,” he said. “They can park there.”
    
    In other business, commissioners gave unanimous approval to a new three-year contract for Stumpf, effectively taking her out of the running for town manager openings in South Palm Beach and Ocean Ridge. Both towns had expressed interest in interviewing her.
    Stumpf will earn $123,300 next year and $126,300 for the two years after, with a $400 monthly car allowance. The commission also approved giving her a 2 percent bonus for 2015 that Cheifetz said “should have been done in March but slipped through the cracks.”
    • Drawdy Construction of Lake Worth, contractor for the Audubon Causeway bridge replacement, has told the commission that it can’t begin work on the project until September, instead of August. The delay means the bridge construction, which is expected to take about 10 months, will run through the entire tourist season.
    The consensus among commissioners was that it was better to start the project in September and deal with the aggravation, rather than ask the contractor to postpone work until after the season.
    Fellow commissioners agreed when Commissioner Ronald Barsanti said: “I think we have to move ahead and for a couple of months people are going to need to put up with some noise.”
    • The commission gave unanimous tentative approval to a 2015-2016 budget that keeps the tax rate at last year’s level of $3.03 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value. The rollback rate, the level that would maintain tax revenues at their current levels, is $2.85 per $1,000.

Manalapan
Proposed tax rate: $3.03 per $1,000 of taxable value
2014-15 tax rate: $3.03 per $1,000 of taxable value
Change in property value: 7.7 percent increase
Total budget (operating and capital): $4.3 million
Public hearings: 5:01 p.m. Sept. 15 and Sept. 22 at Town Hall

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