Maplewood: Basketball Hoops in Right of Way Must Come Down for Winter

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Updated December 18, 2014, 11:45 p.m. to include comments from Maplewood resident Michael Kasdan.

As of Jan. 1, Maplewood code enforcement will be citing any homeowner with a basketball hoop in the public right of way.

Maplewood Township Committeewoman India Larrier gave this update at the December 16 Township Committee. Larrier, who is chair of the code enforcement committee, indicated that the right of way included not only the street but also the “berm” or grassy slip between the sidewalk and curb.

Mayor Vic DeLuca indicated that the Department of Public Works had requested that the hoops come down because of concerns related to snow removal. DeLuca said DPW workers feared that the trucks used for snow removal could hit the hoops, posing a danger.

In one instance, Larrier noted that a temporary hoop had become permanent, with the homeowner cementing it in. In no circumstance is this allowed in the right of way, said Larrier.

Both Larrier and DeLuca said that the hoops issue had not been completely resolved as yet. Larrier mentioned that the hoops would come down “until the spring … by which time we should have had time to discuss this item at more length.” DeLuca said the issue would “hopefully be addressed before spring.”

The conversation followed on a controversy over citations for such temporary hoops this past summer. Residents with basketball hoops placed on the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the curb had received summonses with potential $1,000 fines for violating township codes against obstructing the right of way, unless they removed the hoops. After parents and children showed up for more than an hour of impassioned public commentary and painstaking debate by Committee members at the September 2 Township Committee meeting, the Committee voted 5-0 to suspend the prohibition on portable basketball hoops placed on the curb, at least through the end of the year.

Michael Kasdan, a Maplewood resident who spearheaded the protests about the summonses this past summer, was displeased with the turn of events. Kasdan said that in the case of a “valid safety risk” such as snow removal, a better solution would be to ask residents to move their hoops back when there are snowstorms. “What they are choosing to do here — saying take down all hoops from now until Spring — is not that at all,” wrote Kasdan in an email. “And it’s a complete reversal of their prior position.”

Kasdan wrote that Larrier’s remarks disturbed him:

It’s like deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra was to have said.  India Larrier started all this hoopla in the first place, fought us all the way, and only relented because the other folks on the township committee listened to us parents and to the children – and frankly, to reason. Unfortunately, she was reelected, and now we’re back here again?  I’m concerned that she just won’t let it go.

In addition, this business of taking down the hoops until the town “works this out” sometime in the Spring is completely inconsistent with the agreement reached and resolution made at the Township Committee meeting when we and our children spoke. At that time, the decision was that the hoops in the grassy area between the curb and street would stay up – and should stay up – and all that needed to be done was for the Township to craft language in an ordinance to memorialize that and deal with exceptional conditions like high volume streets such as Valley Street or Parker Avenue.

Now, we are being told a very different story. It’s very disappointing. And it’s very disturbing.


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