A newly drafted taxi ordinance that does not limit the number of cabs that can be licensed within Hightstown was introduced Monday with a tie-breaking vote by the mayor.
Council members Susan Bluth, Robert Thibault and Gail Doran voted against the ordinance while Lynne Woods, Selena Bibens and Larry Quattrone were in favor of it.
Police Director James Le Tellier made a recommendation to council to remove the limit on cabs to help with enforcement of those operating illegally, and increase the number of owners licenses to five, given there are five active companies in the Hightstown-East Windsor area.
“If you want to eliminate the gypsy cabs, the unlawful cabs, there is only one way to do that and that’s to give them the option to come clean,” Le Tellier said. “I have nothing to gain here but to make sure I can enforce, to make sure the residents of Hightstown are protected.”
The called for a limit of 20 cars that could operate within the Borough with four companies receiving licensing. saying as many people not only use taxis to get to work, but also to go grocery shopping, to doctor’s appointments and to get around the area.
Jorge Torres, director of Unidad Latina en Acción NJ, said the organization has been pushing for the removal of the limit since their May Day march.
“I think that these decisions shows how the community and the taxi owners have empowered themselves to achieve a political change in their town,” Torres said in an email Tuesday.
Disagreeing with the unlimited number, Thibault said other communities in the state that have a limit, and he wouldn’t support the ordinance without one.
Taxi owners will also be required to hold a minimum insurance policy of $35,000 under the new ordinance, the minimum required by the state, but Bluth said that is not enough.
Le Tellier said the municipality does not have the right to set a higher number than the state minimum, but Borough attorney Frederick C. Raffetto said he understood the law differently and has asked for more clarification.
The public hearing and final vote on the ordinance will be Aug. 6.