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Rocky Hill Council Reorganizes, First Latino Man Sworn in as New Council Member

Going forward council will hold one regular public monthly meeting, set for the second Monday of each month starting Monday, January 8.

By Rikki N. Massand | Posted January 5, 2024

The Borough Council of Rocky Hill held its annual reorganization meeting in hybrid format on Wednesday, January 3, with Mayor Bob Uhrik presiding to begin his sixth year as mayor. Five of the six council members will continue to serve in 2024: Catherine Plunkett, Jon Lee, Denise Varga, Trey Delaney, and Richard Novak, who was re-elected in November and was sworn in for a three-year term.

Another Democrat, Luis Silvestre, was elected to a three-year term in November. He is the first Latino elected to the Rocky Hill governing board.

Rocky Hill Borough Clerk Rebecca Newman administered the oath of office to Luis Silvestre at Wednesday’s meeting.

Once again, Borough Council has elected Trey Delaney to serve as council president. 

Council members’ appointed roles for 2024 will continue uniformly from what they were in 2023, with the exception of Luis Silvestre replacing Councilwoman Susan Bristol in her roles: as head of the Buildings & Grounds Committee, as deputy chairperson of the Water, Sewer & Environmental Committee, and as deputy chairperson of the Traffic Committee. 

Councilman Silvestre will serve as liaison to the Shade Tree Commission, as the mayor’s alternate on the Borough Planning Board, and as borough representative to the Raritan & Millstone Rivers Flood Control Commission.

Councilman Novak was appointed as the new Rocky Hill member of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Advisory Committee. He will also serve on the Van Horne Park Development Committee and on the Somerset County Community Development Committee.

The borough’s special committee for the Rocky HIll library includes Councilman Lee as chairperson and Council President Delaney as deputy. The special grants committee consists of Delaney as chairperson and Richard Novak as deputy. 

Rocky Hill Mayor Bob Uhrik with Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter.

Visiting Rocky Hill at this year’s Reorganization meeting was Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter, who will host the annual Board of County Commissioners Reorganization on Friday afternoon, January 5 in Somerville. Peter took an opportunity to address the mayor and council at borough hall during public comments:

“I’ve been working my way around to our various municipalities. At the county level, we always joke that there are 21 counties and 22 ways of doing things in New Jersey. Somerset County has 21 municipalities and there seems to be 22 different ways of doing things at each of these meetings," he said. 

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A major change for Rocky Hill came as part of the borough’s annual reorganization items approved this week. Going forward council will hold one regular public monthly business meeting, set for the second Monday of each month starting Monday, January 8. Holidays on Mondays towards the end of this year, Columbus Day and Veterans Day, shift two of the meetings to Wednesday nights. The Borough Planning Board meets on the second Tuesday of each month. 

As approved on council’s reorganization agenda, the 2024 schedule of meetings will continue on February 12, March 11, April 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9; two Wednesday meetings October 16 and November 13 and Monday December 9. The Borough’s 2025 Reorganization meeting was also set for Monday January 6, 2025 at 7 p.m.

The mayor and council maintain the ability to hold special meetings in addition to the approved monthly meetings if and when deemed necessary. Mayor Uhrik reiterated his intent to host a series of town hall meetings similar to the December 2, 2023 meeting focused on the subject of traffic. The town hall meetings, aside from regular council meetings with a formal agenda and reporting from committees and professionals, are tentatively planned for once per quarter. The mayor noted the interactions and sharing of ideas that Town Hall format meetings offer for residents.

Rocky Hill NJ

Mayor Uhrik’s updates this week included the new meeting schedule, which he described as a “paradigm shift” for borough council. 

“Let’s try it, but I will have to say everybody will have to work harder," with the addition of town hall style meetings, he noted. 

Regarding the PFOS (forever chemicals) remediation for the municipal water supply, Mayor Uhrik said while the installation of equipment wasn’t completed in late 2023 the delays will be coming to an end. He commented that Borough Engineer Rob Martucci has been working hard to help the work progress,

“The project is still in progress and we’re all hoping it gets done as soon as possible. There are a lot of moving parts and external entities we’re waiting on, and we’re looking forward to getting this done,’ Uhrik said. 

Council Approves Resolution Honoring Susan Bristol 

Council unanimously approved a resolution to honor the service and dedication of Susan Bristol upon the completion of her three-year term on the local governing body. In addition to her leadership and expertise overseeing stages of historic preservation work at historic borough hall as chairperson of the Buildings & Grounds Committee, Bristol led efforts to engage with Somerset County officials and present the Office of Planning, Policy & Economic Development with details of Rocky Hill’s traffic concerns and local engineering matters. Along with Councilman Novak, she helped organize the December 2 Town Hall meeting.

Both as a member of council and in years preceding her term, Bristol was instrumental in efforts to keep the Mary Jacobs Library open and serving the community and hold the Mary Jacobs Foundation and Somerset Couty Library System accountable for the continuation of library services in Rocky Hill.

Susan Bristol

Susan Bristol (file photo).

The resolution states: “Councilwoman Bristol has made herself available at all times to other elected officials and residents of this community; whereas Councilwoman Bristol has volunteered as a cost effective way to meet borough needs, saving taxpayer dollars; and whereas Councilwoman Bristol has been an encouragement for citizens to join together and give back to the community in any way that is personally meaningful…be it proclaimed that the Borough of Rocky Hill ... thanks and and appreciates Councilwoman Bristol for her commitment to the town and its citizens.”

The proclamation continues, “Be it further resolved council hereby acknowledges that Councilwoman Bristol has left the borough in a better position than when she began her duties. The council and citizens thank her and will continue to reap the rewards of her service for many years to come.”


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