RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The township is in early discussions of possibly proposing a measure that would require companies or individuals operating a limousine service out of the township to apply with the township for licensing with an attached fee. The fee would cover the costs of processing the licenses by the township clerk’s office, which entails filing paperwork with the state on the operators’ proof of insurance. That processing time now is shouldered by taxpayers.
In addition, the board of commissioners wants to look at zoning regulations that would prohibit businesses with multiple cars from running out of residential zones, which has been a problem in the past with taking up much needed on-street residential parking spaces. Aside from businesses such as pizzerias and nail salons, limousine services are one the most prevalent within town. A phonebook search immediately identifies nine limousine businesses scattered within the township’s borders.
"In everything we are trying to do, we want to have it that if you run the business, you have to pay your own way," said Mayor Richard DiLascio, who proposed charging limousine companies a $50 charge for the license fee. "I don’t want this to be a profit making thing, whatever the number, the final number [fee] of licenses should have a rational bearing on what it costs us to issue the license."
Currently, rules and regulations governing operations of limousine companies are stringent on the state level, but the township said more supervision is needed on the local level and through the fee, non-compliant limousine services may feel deterred to set up shop within the township. Township Clerk Helen Polito said many businesses in the past had set up in residential zones, some using homes of residents they know, but the business operators themselves don’t even live in the township. She said the fee would not affect the larger companies, but would possibly detract those that shy away from the business zone to operate.
"I think it would be a deterrent to some of the other companies, single operators, that come in," said Polito. "The reason being is they want to have their limos at their home and the neighbors are really upset about it."
Through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), limousine owners are not only liable for maintaining proper inspection on their vehicles, but their drivers as well. As of 2002, all limousine company owners have had to require background checks and fingerprinting of any employee driving one of their cars. By the end of the year, the MVC anticipates having new regulations in place to mandate drug testing amongst limousine service company employees. The township however, like all municipalities, is required to track limousine companies through a simple licensing that only requires a proof of insurance of the limousine service. Without a fee, Polito said Lyndhurst was an easy target for limousine operators to set up shop in Lyndhurst, a convenient hub to local airports, hotels, and New York City.
DiLascio said while an ordinance to charge a fee to cover the township costs should be in the works, he would also look to coordinate with the planning board on new zoning regulations. The regulations would make it harder for limousine operators to work in residential areas, particularly ones that maintain multiple vehicles that find a need to use on-street parking.
"That’s a whole different world. I think that was one of the things we were overly concerned with was having a company with seven cars and putting seven cars on the street so no one can park anywhere," he said. "We don’t want business uses encroaching on residential uses."
DiLascio said any measure, however, would be quick to stipulate that operators that are able to utilize their driveways for their vehicles would most likely be exempt from the zoning restrictions, similar to other residents that park work trucks and vans in their driveways.
"The individual who that’s his livelihood and that’s his car and puts in his driveway, is he operating a business out of there or is he just driving his car that happens to be for work?" said DiLascio.
Source: South Bergenite