Ordinance No. 18-26

Introduced: July 23, 2018
Public Hearing: August 13, 2018
Status: Adopted

An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex County, State of New Jersey, Authorizing a Referendum to Allow Additional Expenditures from the Open Space Trust Fund for Public Pathway Development And Maintenance

WHEREAS, Vernon Township created an Open Space Trust Fund by Ordinance #00-16, which authorized a municipal tax to fund an Open Space Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, Ordinance #00-16 limited expenditures from the Open Space Trust Fund to be dedicated to farmland preservation and to preserving open space; and

WHEREAS, the current Open Space Trust Fund has a balance of $972,012.92; and

WHEREAS, there is no current municipal tax to fund the Open Space Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, there have been no recent purchases of land or easements using funds from the Open Space Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, the renewal of the Open Space municipal tax was presented to the voters by Ordinance #06-29 and by Ordinance #07-18 and was defeated both times; and

WHEREAS, the governing body of the Township of Vernon has proposed modifying the limitations on expenditures from the Open Space Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, since the Open Space Trust Fund was created by voter referendum and the limitation on the Open Space Trust Fund were linked to that referendum, it is appropriate to seek voter approval to change the restrictions on expenditures from the Open Space Trust Fund; and

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Council desires to ascertain the sentiment of the voters of Vernon Township concerning the modification of eligible projects under the Open Space Trust Funds; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, by the Township Council of Vernon Township that:

  1. A copy of this Ordinance should be immediately forwarded to the County Clerk.
  2. That the County Clerk should be requested to put the following question on the ballot for the November 6, 2018 general election:

Public Question

Shall Vernon Township modify Township ordinance #00-16, which currently limits the spending of funds collected for the Township Open Space Trust Fund, which had a balance of approximately $972,012.92 as of July 17, 2018, to allow no more than thirty percent (30%) of the Township Open Space Trust Fund to be used for the maintenance of Township owned open space; creation and maintenance of public pathways for hiking, biking and horseback riding trails; creation of amenities such as public gardens, disc golf and bike pump track; and the preservation and maintenance of cultural sites?  YES [   ]  NO [   ]

Interpretive Statement

If passed by the voters, this referendum would authorize the Vernon Township Committee to modify the current purposes of the Township Open Space Trust Fund (“Fund”) to allow for no more than thirty percent (30%) of the Fund to be used for the creation and maintenance of trails and bikeways, such as trailheads, trails, boardwalks, bridges, park kiosks, road crossings, signage, and other improvements needed to develop a trail system. This proposal would also allow the Fund to be used to maintain Township owned open space, create amenities such as public gardens, disc golf and bike pump track and the preservation and maintenance of cultural sites. The current authorized uses of the Fund shall continue to be for the acquisition of open space and farmland, but up to thirty percent (30%) of the Fund balance would be authorized for outdoor recreation, property maintenance, and the preservation and maintenance cultural sites. A “Yes” vote will not impose an Open Space tax levy, but will authorize the use of existing funds for the purposes stated above. Eligible projects will be determined by the Township Council on a case-by-case basis.