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Elizabeth police officer plans job change to code enforcement

| Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

Elizabeth police Officer-in-Charge John Snelson is leaving his department to become Elizabeth Township's new code enforcement and zoning officer.

Township commissioners unanimously hired the law enforcement veteran on Monday during a special meeting.

“I look forward to it,” Snelson said after the meeting. “It's wait to be seen what the first priorities are when I officially start and see what the most pressing problems are.”

Snelson, an Elizabeth resident, was an officer for 18 years and led his department for the past 14.

“I've been looking for something a little similar but different,” Snelson said about his employment. “The (borough) police department handled high grass, high weeds and some property maintenance (issues). There's really no certificate required for this position. It's not building inspection. There's a little bit of a difference there. (My work with the borough) will help me with this (position).”

Snelson has 14 years of experience in emergency management service as deputy emergency management coordinator for two municipalities.

Township manager Richard Janus said at least 12 people applied for the code enforcement and zoning officer position, and five were interviewed.

Board of commissioners president Gene Francesconi said Snelson was selected because of his experience.

“The board felt confident in his experience in the way he handled different situations in the past,” Francesconi said.

Snelson replaces former code enforcement officer and building inspector Robert Chappo, who resigned on May 30 after being hired in February.

Chappo left to take a position in the private sector. Commissioners last month approved keeping code enforcement a township service and having a third party handle building inspections. The current company is Building Inspection Underwriters.

Snelson's township salary will be $38,000 plus benefits. He starts his new job on July 21.

“I wish him all the luck,” Elizabeth Mayor V. Ann Malady said after hearing the news on Monday night. “The township is a great place. I worked out there. It's a wonderful community. They have a great board of commissioners. My hope is John Snelson finds success there.”

Malady said she “heard rumblings” Snelson was looking for other work, but the two never discussed the subject. “We've been filling the night turn slot with part-time officers, so with John Snelson leaving we will have to look at our seniority list,” Malady said.

The mayor mentioned the police work in code enforcement.

“I know in the past we've had our officers do that, and they have done good code enforcement,” she said. “I'm certain John put his shifts in.”

Snelson said he will submit a two-week notice to the borough.

Francesconi said the township called for a special meeting to hire a code enforcement officer instead of waiting for next Monday's regular meeting because of the high call volume of requests and complaints handled by that position.

“We didn't want to let it linger,” he said.

All motions made at Monday's special meeting passed unanimously.

Commissioners approved forming the position of working foreman in the road department, setting the hourly wage rate and compensating John Castine for services as acting road department supervisor. Castine later was appointed to the working foreman position at $25.59 per hour. Other compensation figures were unavailable.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.