Minutes: August 24, 2020

YouTube video of the August 24, 2020 council meeting »

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on August 24, 2020 via Zoom Webinar in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Harry Shortway presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 7, 2020 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members John Auberger, Jean Murphy, Andrew Pitsker and Council President Shortway. Also present were Mayor Howard Burrell, Business Administrator Charles Voelker and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Weller was absent.

Salute to the Flag

Council President Shortway led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.

Public Comments (For Current Agenda Items Only, Limited to 3 minutes per person)

Council President Shortway repeated what he said at the January 1, 2020 meeting, “Public comment is an absolute necessity in government,” Citizens need to be heard and to feel they are being taken seriously. They need to be allowed to speak and to get their point across.

But there are rules and I respectfully request that the public play by those rules.

Council meetings are not public forums but meetings for council business conducted in public.

Public comment periods will continue as previously held. Should a member of the public present a question, I recommend that council members and/or the mayor respond if reasonable to do so during their comment section near the conclusion of the meeting or address the inquiry at the following council meeting during their comments.

All comment sections of these meetings are for expressions of opinion and not debate.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members present voted in favor.

Jessica Paladini - Vernon Township, feels that the tests done at the DPW storage site are irrelevant because the site was not tested only piles were tested that did not represent the site. Ms. Paladini said on Silver Spruce and Wisteria material did not show anything until they did deep borings. It is Ms. Paladini’s opinion that this site is not suitable for putting a children’s playground on it. Ms. Paladini asked why we are not consulting with the person who offered to build a pump track for the town for free to save the taxpayers money. She asked to have the pump track built in one of Vernon’s beautiful parks.

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Item for Discussion

Testing/Evaluation of the Potential Pump Track Soil Samples

Township Engineer Cory Stoner explained that they were tasked to test the materials at the DPW storage facility. There are multiple piles that the DPW workers have been bringing back to this location from the whole town. The materials have been tested to see if they can be reused as either a grade off area for the pump track or to use as material underneath the pump track. Mr. Stoner explained that it is safe material that is going to be used under this track if and when it is constructed. Excel Environmental Recourses tested the 16 piles of material. Mr. Stoner explained the testing for the different piles. He said most of the piles tested adequately and can be utilized on the property without any kind of regulations. There are 4 piles that they are not exactly sure if they can be used on site or will need to be removed. Excel Environmental did advance leach ability testing on the 4 piles and it seems like 3 of the 4 piles tested look like they will pass fine. In order to state that for sure they have to do 3 tests to each pile. There is 1 pile that they are anticipating may not pass residential standards and will most likely have to be removed, it is about 100 tons of material. Mr. Stoner said that additional testing will have additional cost of $8,000 to $10,000. There is also the question of how the material would be removed. This may have to be done by a licensed contractor/hauler to bring the material to a licensed location. Mr. Stoner said that we were not testing for historical uses on the property.

Council President Shortway asked if regardless if we build the pump track will the piles still need to be removed?

Mr. Stoner answered that as long as the piles are not underneath residential standards, they do not have to be removed and can be used on site.

Mayor Burrell commented that they would like to create a better delineated storage format in the future. Essentially they would like to make the storage facility better organized regardless if the pump track is built at the site or not.

Council Member Murphy commented that the person who offered to build a pump track did not offer to build the same type of pump track being proposed for this location.

Mr. Stoner said that he will address the difference in prices, advantages and disadvantages and pros and cons to build a dirt versus an asphalt pump track.

Council Vice President Auberger asked regarding the State of New Jersey, do you still use road millings as a parking lot base then cover them with either fresh asphalt and if any road projects are done in the future, can the millings be used in the parking lot for the pump track.

Mr. Stoner replied that you cannot bury asphalt but you can use it as a base course.

Council Member Pitsker asked what the size of the area is and how much area will the pump track cover.

Mr. Stoner answered saying the property is a little over 11 acres and the pump track will be two to three acres and additional room for parking.

Council Member Pitsker asked if there are concerns with leaching. and has the ground water been tested for leaching.

Mr. Stoner answered not to his knowledge.

Council Member Murphy said that there has been environmental testing done on all of the sites for different levels but this is property that Vernon Township owns.

Council President Shortway explained that when you purchase property Environmental 1 studies should be conducted and if there is any evidence of contamination, then you would move onto an Environmental 2 study.

Council President Shortway asked if there is any wetlands in the area where the pump track is being proposed.

Mr. Stoner said there is not wetlands where the proposed pump track would be. He feels the pump track would be best suited up on top of the hill. At this location it ties into the future bike trail that is being talked about, it will have a beautiful view of the valley and the parking in the area can be handled well with minimum grading.

Excel Environmental Resources, Inc. (Excel) has prepared this Soil Pile Sampling and Results Letter to document the soil characterization sampling of 16 soil piles staged on the Township-owned DPW Yard located along Black Creek Drive, Block 141, Lot 2 and 12.05 in Vernon, New Jersey (hereafter identified as the subject property or Site). This letter details the analytical results of soil samples collected from the 16 soil piles, ranging from approximately 11 to 740 cubic yards (cy) located on the subject property, the source of the material in the piles is currently unknown; however, Excel’s understanding is that the material is related to various DPW operations. One discrete grab sample was collected from each of the 16 piles from depths and locations selected to provide soil quality data that is representative of each of the stockpiles. A site location plan depicting the subject property location is included as Figure l.

Soil Pile Sampling and Analysis
Soil sampling was performed to characterize the stockpiled material in order to determine the various options available to the Township to manage the material. All sampling was performed in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Technical Requirements for Site Remediation N.J.A.C. 7:26E (the Technical Rules), the NJDEP Fill Material Guidance for Site Remediation for SRP Sites, dated April 2015 (Version 3.0), and the NJDEP Field Sampling Procedure Manual (FSPM), dated April 2011.

As shown on Figure 2, on July 9, 2020, Excel collected 16 discrete soil grab samples, designated P-1 through P-16 from the onsite stockpiles staged on Block 141, Lots 2 and 12.05. An experienced Excel scientist/geologist utilized a hand auger to collect each discrete grab sample from locations and depths which were representative of the entire stockpile. A photoionization detector (PID) was utilized and samples were biased towards any staining, odors, debris, or elevated field screening levels. No evidence of a discharge was observed on the day of the soil sampling.

The soil samples were sent to TestAmerica Laboratories, Inc. (TestAmerica) located in Edison, New Jersey (NJ Lab Certification No. 12028) and analyzed for Target Compound List/target Analyze list with a forward library search (TCL/TAL+30) which includes emi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, and cyanide. Additionally, and based on the full TCL/TAL+30 results (further described below) select samples were also analyzed for Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP) benzo(a)pyrene and SPLP benzo(b)fluoranthene.

Results
Based on field observations made during the sampling, it was determined that the pile identified as P-2 was in fact not soil, but instead contained asphalt millings. A sample was collected from this pile but was not run for analytical testing. The asphalt millings will need to be managed separately from the other piles in accordance with appropriate NJDEP regulations and guidance.

Based on the analytical findings, no samples exceeded the Non-Residential Direct Contact Soil Remediation Standards (NRCDSRS) for any compounds analyzed. Benzo(a)pyrene in the sample collection from pile P-16 was the only exceedance of the Residential Direct Contact Soil Remediation Standards (RDCSRS). In addition, the Impact to Groundwater Default Soil Screening Level (IGWDSSL) was. exceeded in one or more samples for the SVOCs benzo(a)pyrene and benzo(b)fluoranthene, as well as the metals aluminum and manganese. The IGWDSSL for both aluminum and manganese are secondary and not health-based standards, therefore do not require any additional investigation or remediation. The soil analytical results are summarized on Table 1 and Figure 2. The soil laboratory analytical package is provided as Attachment A.

In order to further investigate the berizo(a)pyrene (three samples) and benzo(b)fluoranthene (one sample) IGWDSSL exceedances and evaluate the leachability to groundwater, the exceeding samples (P-4, P-5, P- 12 and P-16) were also analyzed using the SPLP method for their exceeding compound. Based on the analytical findings, each of the IGWDSSL exceedances passed the SPLP testing. However, per NJDEP guidance, three samples would be necessary to adjust the IGWDSSL and create Site Specific Impact to Groundwater Standards (SSIGWSRS).

Conclusions
Based on the findings of this soil pile characterization sampling, no exceedances were identified in the material located in pile P-1, P-3, P-6 through P-11 and P-13 through P-15. The soil in these piles would therefore have no restrictions and could be re-used onsite, used offsite or disposed of at an offsite location.

Based on the analytical results, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, aluminum and manganese were identified in one or more samples above their respective IGWDSSL. Aluminum and manganese have secondary, non-health based IGWDSSL standards and therefore do not require any additional investigation or remediation. In addition, the SPLP testing for benzo(a)pyrene and benzo(b)fluoranthene confirmed that the reported concentrations are not leachable. However, in order to establish SIGWSRS standards for these compounds, additional sampling would need to be conducted in order to achieve the NJDEP’s three sample requisite when. setting SSIGWSRS standards using the SPLP method. Other alternatives to address these IGWSSL exceedances would be to delineate and excavate the exceedances within each pile for offsite disposal or to dispose of each pile at an offsite location.

Based on the analytical results, benzo(a)pyrene in pile P-16 was identified above its RDCSRS but below its NRDCSRS. The following options exist to address this identified exceedance:

  • Disposal of the entire pile at an offsite facility
  • Delineation and excavation of the impacted soil at an offsite facility

Based on field observations, pile P-2 contains asphalt millings and therefore the collected sample was not run for analytical testing. The millings would need to be managed in accordance with the applicable NJDEP regulations and guidance.

As indicated above, o e exceedance of the RDCSRS and several exceedances of the IGWDSSL were identified in soil piles located on the Site. Since these exceedances were identified in soil piles imported to the site and not generated from operations conducted on the Site, the exceedances are not considered a discharge at the Site but rather an issue that is managed under NJDEP’s Solid Waste Regulations. Therefore, documentation does not need to be provided to the NJDEP to establish a Site Remediation Program case at the subject property and a Confirmed Discharge Notification does not need to be submitted to the NJDEP.

Recommendations
The following actions are recommended to address the identified exceedances at the Site:

  • No further action is warranted or proposed to address the aluminum and manganese IGWSSL exceedances as these compound standards are. non-health based;
  • Additional sampling for total and SPLP benzo(a)pyrene or benzo(b)fluoranthene is recommended from piles P-4, P-5, P-12 and P-16 to establish SSIGWSRS standards for each pile containing IGWSSL exceedances of these compounds; and
  • Delineation sampling and analysis followed by offsite disposal of the benzo(a)pyrene RDCSRS in pile P-16.

Presentation/Public Hearing

Plan Endorsement/Municipal Self-Assessment

Jessica Caldwell Principal Planner, of J. Caldwell & Associates explained that the town center has had a lot of infrastructure constructed and there has been a lot of money spent over the years. With the town center designation getting ready to expire, we felt it was a smart move on behalf of the Township to continue to work with the State Planning Commission and coordinate with State agencies in order to make sure we can still develop the Town Center as well as expand it and expand opportunities.

  • Vernon Received Town Center Designation from the State Planning Commission on July 16, 2003.
  • The Center Designation was set to expire June 30, 2020 but due to the COVID-19 health emergency, has been extended until 120 days after the emergency declaration is rescinded.
  • Plan Endorsement from the State Planning Commission is the current process to extend Vernon’s Town Center Designation.
  • Plan Endorsement reviews the Township’s Comprehensive Plans for Consistency with the State Plan. The process includes a Center Designation.

Promote Economic Development

  • Encourage new businesses
  • Support existing businesses
  • Promote development opportunities
  • Encourage tourist and resort-oriented development
  • Increase access to tourist and recreational destinations
  • Encourage tourist and resort support businesses
  • Support and regulate short-term rentals

Stabilize Infrastructure

  • Stabilize and increase the user base for the sewer system to stabilize bonds and payments
  • Create additional public water capacity in the sewer service area
  • Ensure a balance between cost of infrastructure to users, developers and tax payers

Create an Expanded Town Center

  • Promote mixed-use, residential and commercial development in an expanded Town Center area
  • Support expanded infrastructure including sewer and water throughout the center area
  • Identify and encourage businesses that support local resiliency
  • Identify and support sustainability in the center, i.e. electric car charging stations, green infrastructure and solar power, etc.

Support Local Resorts
Help market and support local ski resorts, golf courses and resort-oriented businesses to ensure their survival

  • Step 1: Pre-Petition Meeting - Township officials met with State officials via phone conference on May 7, 2020.
  • Step 2: Plan Endorsement Advisory Committee: Due to the COVID-19 Emergency. Waiver request.
  • Step 3: Municipal Self-Assessment Report - this report was provided for review and approval by the Council tonight.
  • Step 4: State Opportunities and Constraints Analysis: completed by the State Agencies.
  • Step 5: Community Vision - Visioning was completed last year. Waiver request.
  • Step 6: Consistency Review - completed by State agencies.
  • Step 7: Action Plan - State agencies and the Township agree on an action plan for any items to be completed prior to Plan Endorsement.
  • Step 8: Plan Implementation Agenda: An agreement of items to be completed by the Township following Plan Endorsement.
  • Step 9: State Planning Commission Endorsement.
  • Step 10: Monitoring and Benefits. Plan Endorsement lasts for 10 years.
  • Four Season Recreational Community
  • Promote Agra- and Eco-Tourism
  • Promote Businesses that Serve Residents and Tourists
  • Create a mixed-use Town Center
  • Promote Strong Civic Life and Participation
  • Preserve the High Quality of Life in the Township through:
    • Economic Development
    • Promote Local Resorts
    • Open Space and Farmland Preservation
    • Natural Resource Preservation
    • Develop Recreation and Trails/Greenways
    • Sustainable Infrastructure and Budget
  • The Municipal Self-Assessment Report submitted to the Council represents the Township’s formal Petition for Plan Endorsement to the State Planning Commission.

The meeting tonight is a public hearing on the Township’s desire to submit this petition and the vision, goals and objectives of the petition for Plan Endorsement.

Council President Shortway asked if because of all the work that has been done so far can move forward.

Ms. Caldwell said yes, everyone has received the requests for the waivers and this should help us get through the process more quickly which is important given the time frame. Ms. Caldwell is hoping we should have good answers back in three to four months with respect to an action plan and possibly our plan implementation agenda.

Council President Shortway asked if a new developer wanted to come in to the town center, does this all need to be done before the Mayor can negotiate a pilot plan.

Ms. Caldwell said no this is for more long term planning goals.

Council Member Pitsker asked if there is anything that we can do to be proactive in being able to advance the plan to move things along and have grants ready.

Ms. Caldwell said that we are in good shape right now and once they come back with our action plan, we can make good choices as to what to do to move forward as quickly as possible.

Resolution #20-174: Resolution Regarding Statement of Intent to Pursue Plan Endorsement and Authorization to Submit the Municipal Self-Assessment Report  to the Office of Planning Advocacy

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-174.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-174.

Resolution #20-174: Resolution Regarding Statement of Intent to Pursue Plan Endorsement and Authorization to Submit the Municipal Self-Assessment Report  to the Office of Planning Advocacy

WHEREAS, the State Planning Act recognizes that New Jersey requires sound and integrated land use planning and coordination of planning at all levels of government in order to conserve the state’s natural resources, revitalize the urban centers, protect the quality of the environment, and provide needed housing and adequate public services at a reasonable cost while promoting beneficial economic growth, development and renewal; and

WHEREAS, Plan Endorsement is a voluntary review process developed by the State Planning Commission to provide the technical assistance and coordination of the State for municipalities, counties, and regional agencies to meet the goals of the State Planning Act and State Development and Redevelopment Plan (State Plan); and

WHEREAS, the purpose of the Plan Endorsement process is to increase the degree of consistency among municipal, county, regional and state agency plans with each other and with the State Plan and to facilitate the implementation of these plans and guide where and how development and redevelopment can be accommodated in accordance with the State Plan; and

WHEREAS, the State Planning Rules and Plan Endorsement Guidelines incorporate, and expand upon, the principles of the Municipal Land Use Law in order to help towns plan for a sustainable future; and

WHEREAS, the State Planning Rules and Plan Endorsement Guidelines require the preparation and submission of a Municipal Self-Assessment Report as the means by which a municipality assesses the consistency of its existing community vision and planning documents with the State Plan; and

WHEREAS, the Township Council of the Township of Vernon desires to obtain Plan Endorsement from the State Planning Commission; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has prepared a Municipal Self-Assessment Report pursuant to the State Planning Rules and Plan Endorsement Guidelines; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:85-7.6, the Township of Vernon has obtained a waiver of the requirement to appoint a Municipal Plan Endorsement Advisory Committee and a Municipal Self-Assessment Report has been prepared by the Township’s planning consultant. A recommendation has been made for the Township Council to approve the Municipal Self-Assessment Report for submission to the State Planning Commission and the Office of Planning Advocacy towards the Township of Vernon’s pursuit of Plan Endorsement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon hereby expressly states the intention of the Township of Vernon to pursue Plan Endorsement by the State Planning Commission.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon approves the Municipal Self-Assessment Report and authorizes it be submitted to the Office of Planning Advocacy for consideration and review as part of the effort to pursue Plan Endorsement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of the Township of Vernon shall transmit a copy of this Resolution and the Notice as required by the State Planning Rules to the State Planning Commission and the Office of Planning Advocacy.

Resolution #20-175: Resolution of the Council of the Township of Vernon Endorsing the Petition for Plan Endorsement and Designating the Mayor to Submit the Petition and Execute the Planning and Implementation Agreement

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-175.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-175.

Resolution #20-175: Resolution of the Council of the Township of Vernon Endorsing the Petition for Plan Endorsement and Designating the Mayor to Submit the Petition and Execute the Planning and Implementation Agreement

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council of Vernon Township desire to obtain Plan Endorsement from the State Planning Commission; and

WHEREAS, Plan Endorsement is a process developed by the State Planning Commission to approve municipal, county, regional plans that are consistent with the State Development and Redevelopment Plan; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of the Plan Endorsement process is to reach the following goals by increasing the consistency among municipal, county, regional and State agency plans with each other and with the State Plan, and to facilitate the implementation of these plans. The goals of plan endorsement are to:

  1. Encourage municipal, county, regional and state agency plans to be coordinated and support each other to achieve the goals of the State Plan;
  2. Encourage municipalities and counties to plan on a regional basis with recognizing the fundamental role of the municipal master plan and development regulations;
  3. Consider the entire municipality, including Centers, Cores, Nodes and Environs, within the context of regional systems;
  4. Provide an opportunity for all government entities and the public to discuss and resolve common planning issues;
  5. Provide a framework to guide and support state investment programs and permitting assistance in the implementation of municipal, county and regional plans that meet statewide objectives;
  6. Learn new planning approaches and techniques from municipal, county and regional governments for dissemination throughout the state and possible incorporation into the State Plan. (The New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan, 2001, page 14);
  7. Ensure that petitions for Plan Endorsement are consistent with applicable State land use statutes and regulations; and

WHEREAS, Plan Endorsement is the process by which a Town Center can be designated in the State Plan Policy Map; and

WHEREAS, the Township’s petition for initial plan endorsement is proposing the designation of a Town Center within the Township; and

WHEREAS, if the Township is successful in achieving plan endorsement, it will entitle the Township to a higher priority for available funding, streamlined permit reviews, and coordinated state agency services; and

WHEREAS, the Plan Endorsement Guidelines approved by the State Planning Commission note that if there is a need for better planning resources, the Office of Planning Advocacy will work with the applicant on a scope of work needed, with a timeline for completion.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon as follows:

  1. The Initial Petition for Plan Endorsement is hereby endorsed for submission to the Office of Planning Advocacy and State Planning Commission.
  2. The Mayor is hereby directed to submit the Petition and execute the final Planning and Implementation Agreement which shall outline the commitments on the part of the State and the petitioner to implement the endorsed plan.

Minutes

August 10, 2020 - Executive Session
August 10, 2020 - Regular Meeting

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve the above meeting minutes.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve the above meeting minutes.

Resolutions

Resolution #20-177: Appointment to the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-177.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-177.

Resolution #20-177: Appointment to the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (“VTMUA”) is a duly established utilities authority pursuant to the Municipal and County Utilities Authorities Law, N.J.S.A. 40:14B-1, et seq.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF VERNON, COUNTY OF SUSSEX, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, that the following individuals are hereby appointed as a member of the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority, effective 8/24/2020, for a term specified as follows:

Jean Murphy Alternate 1
Expiring 02/01/2021 (unexpired term)

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the Township Clerk shall send a certified copy of this resolution to the following:

Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority

Resolution #20-178: Appointment to the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-178.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: Pitsker
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-178.

Resolution #20-178: Appointment to the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (“VTMUA”) is a duly established utilities authority pursuant to the Municipal and County Utilities Authorities Law, N.J.S.A. 40:14B-1, et seq.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF VERNON, COUNTY OF SUSSEX, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, that the following individuals are hereby appointed as a member of the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority, effective 8/24/2020, for a term specified as follows:

Andrew PitskerSeat 5
Expiring 02/01/2021 (unexpired term)

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the Township Clerk shall send a certified copy of this resolution to the following:

Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority

Resolution #20-179: Chapter 159 Resolution Requesting Approval of Revenue and Appropriation Amending the 2020 Budget as a Revenue and Appropriation of $5,500.00

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-179.
Moved: Andrew Jean
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-179.

Resolution #20-179: Chapter 159 Resolution Requesting Approval of Revenue and Appropriation Amending the 2020 Budget as a Revenue and Appropriation of $5,500.00

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:4-87 provides that the Director of the Division of Local Government Services may approve the insertion of any special item of revenue in the budget of any county or municipality when such item shall have been made available by law and the amount thereof was not determined at the time of the adoption of the budget; and

WHEREAS, said Director may also approve the insertion of an item of appropriation for an equal amount; and

WHEREAS, the Township has been awarded a $5,500.00 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Grant; and wishes to amend its 2020 budget for the difference of the awarded amount as a revenue.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon hereby requests the Director of the Division of Local Government Services to approve the insertion of an item of revenue in the budget of the year 2020 in the sum of $5,500.00 which is now available as a revenue,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a like sum of $5,500.00 is hereby appropriated under the caption Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Grant.

Resolution #20-180: Resolution Determining the Forms of General Refunding Bonds of 2020 and Sewer Refunding Bonds of 2020 of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, and Determining Certain Details in Connection Therewith

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-180.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-180.

See attachment for resolution.

Resolution #20-181: Person-to-Person and Place-to-Place Transfer of Liquor License #1922-36-011-001

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-181.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-181.

Resolution #20-181: Person-to-Person and Place-to-Place Transfer of Liquor License #1922-36-011-001

WHEREAS, an application has been filed for a Person-to-Person and Place-to-Place transfer of Plenary Retail Consumption License (Hotel/Motel Exception) Number 1922-36-011-001 heretofore issued to Stone Hill Recreation Corporation, located at 2 Chamonix Drive, Vernon, New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the submitted application form is complete in all respects, the transfer fees have been paid, and the license has been properly renewed for the current license term; and

WHEREAS, the applicant is qualified to be licensed according to all standards established by Title 33 of the New Jersey Statutes, regulations promulgated thereunder, as well as pertinent local ordinances and conditions consistent with Title 33; and

WHEREAS, the applicant has disclosed and the issuing authority reviewed the source of all funds used in the purchase of the license and the licensed business and all additional financing obtained in connection with the business license.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Vernon Township Council does hereby approve, effective September 1, 2020, the transfer of the aforesaid Plenary Retail Consumption License (Hotel/Motel Exception) to Stone Hill Recreation SPE LLC. and does hereby direct the Township Clerk to endorse the license certificate to the new ownership as follows: “This license, subject to all its terms and conditions, is hereby transferred to Stone Hill Recreation SPE LLC, effective September 1, 2020.”

Resolution #20-182: Renewal of Liquor Licenses in the Township of Vernon for the 2020-2021 Licensing Term

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-182.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-182.

Resolution #20-182: Renewal of Liquor Licenses in the Township of Vernon for the 2020-2021 Licensing Term

WHEREAS, all licenses to dispense alcoholic beverages must be renewed and reissued annually no later than September 30, 2020; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-1 et. seq., the Vernon Township Police Department has made the necessary inspections and reported same to the Township Clerk; and

WHEREAS, all of the licensees have complied with all of the regulations as set forth by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission of the State of New Jersey;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the following licenses shall be reissued for the 2020-2021 licensing period effective as of October 1, 2020.

PLENARY RETAIL CONSUMPTION
FLME, Inc. (The George Inn) 1922-33-008-003

PLENARY RETAIL DISTRIBUTION
Highland General Store Inc. 1922-44-002-002
LWS2 Inc. (Lake Wanda Store) 1922-43-005-003

Resolution #20-183: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4725206 and 4645544-Color Oxford White)

Council Member Auberger asked is these are Police vehicles and are they replacing vehicles that are going for auction.

Business Administrator Voelker explained that these are police vehicles and they are being swapped out.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-183.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-183.

Resolution #20-183: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4725206 and 4645544-Color Oxford White)

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, State of New Jersey as follows:

WHEREAS, the governing body of Vernon Township approved in Resolution 19-164 authorizing leasing of certain vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services, Inc., and this is an extension of that resolution; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the requirements of the Local Public Contract Law P.L. 2011, C.139 (the “Law” or “Chapter 139” and N.J.S.A.52:34-6.2 the regulations promulgated there under in Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10, the following purchase without competitive bids from vendor with a National Cooperative Contract is hereby approved for municipalities, and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has the need to procure certain vehicles through lease program for Township services in accord with the Local Publics Contract Law N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et. Seq., and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has previously acted in accord with New Jersey public procurement statutes and regulations as promulgated by formally joining a recognized and compliant national cooperative, being the Sourcewell National Cooperative, and;

WHEREAS, the regulations as set forth within Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10 have been fully complied with, and;

WHEREAS, the equipment and corresponding Sourcewell National Cooperative contract is #060618-EFM for Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc.; and

WHEREAS, the cost savings determination as required under LFN 2012-10 is the cost of contract as there is currently no cooperative lease program in effect under the New Jersey Division of Purchase and Property; and

WHEREAS, the quoted cost under the Sourcewell National contract $68,496.00 (Quote No. 4725206 and 4645544); and

WHEREAS, that the governing body of Vernon Township pursuant to NJAC 5:30-5.5(b) (the certification of available funds), states that the Chief Finance Officer shall either certify the full maximum amount against the budget at the time the contract is awarded, or no contract amount shall be chargeable or certified until such time as the goods or services are ordered or otherwise called for prior to placing the order, and a certification of availability of funds is made by the Chief Finance Officer; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Business Administrator is hereby directed to effectuate the contract with Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. under Sourcewell contract #060618-EFM in accord with the provisions of the tenets as established within 40A:11-1 et. Seq.,

Resolution #20-184: Authorizing the Cancellation of Outstanding Checks over Six Months Old to Municipal Cash Balances

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-184.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-184

Resolution #20-184: Authorizing the Cancellation of Outstanding Checks over Six Months Old to Municipal Cash Balances

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer has determined that the following Township checks have been outstanding for a period in excess of six months:

SENIOR TRUST ACCOUNT #639403603:
11871/9/2018Dawn Gomez$160.00
TOTAL$160.00
LAND USE BOARD ACCOUNT # 409011967:
434911/16/2018Noemy Toste$414.75
435312/27/2018Glenwood Homes$550.72
436312/27/2018Mott Drive Mngt$163.00
TOTAL$1,128.47

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the above outstanding checks be restored to the Township cash balances.

2020 Annual Audit

Resolution #20-176: 2019 Annual Audit

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-176.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-176

Resolution #20-176: 2019 Annual Audit

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:5-4 requires the governing body of every local unit to have made an annual audit of its books, accounts and financial transactions, and

WHEREAS, the Annual Report of Audit for the year 2019 has been filed by a Registered Municipal Accountant with the Municipal Clerk pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:5-6, and a copy has been received by each member of the governing body; and

WHEREAS, R.S. 52:27BB-34 authorizes the Local Finance Board of the State of New Jersey to prescribe reports pertaining to the local fiscal affairs; and

WHEREAS, the Local Finance Board has promulgated N.J.A.C. 5:30-6.5, a regulation requiring that the governing body of each municipality shall, by resolution, certify to the Local Finance Board of the State of New Jersey that all members of the governing body have reviewed, as a minimum, the sections of the annual audit entitled “Comments and Recommendations”; and

WHEREAS, the members of the governing body have personally reviewed, as a minimum, the Annual Report of Audit, and specifically the sections of the Annual Audit entitled “Comments and Recommendations,” as evidenced by the group affidavit form of the governing body attached hereto; and

WHEREAS, such resolution of certification shall be adopted by the Governing Body no later than forty-five days after the receipt of the annual audit, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:30-6.5; and

WHEREAS, all members of the governing body have received and have familiarized themselves with, at least, the minimum requirements of the Local Finance Board of the State of New Jersey, as stated aforesaid and have subscribed to the affidavit, as provided by the Local Finance Board; and

WHEREAS, failure to comply with the regulations of the Local Finance Board of the State of New Jersey may subject the members of the local governing body to the penalty provisions of R.S. 52:27BB-52, to wit:

R.S. 52:27BB-52: A local officer or member of a local governing body who, after date fixed for compliance, fails or refuses to obey an order of the director (Director of Local Government Services), under the provisions of this Article, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, in addition shall forfeit his office.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, hereby states that is has complied with N.J.A.C. 5:30-6.5 and does hereby submit a certified copy of this resolution and the required

Resolution #20-185: Corrective Action Plan 2019 Audit

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-185.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-185

Resolution #20-185: Corrective Action Plan 2019 Audit

WHEREAS, the 2019 Annual Audit Report was delivered in August 2020 and regulations promulgated by the Local Fiscal Affairs Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:5 requires that the Chief Financial Officer prepare a Corrective Action Plan covering all findings and recommendations in the audit report; and

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:5 further requires approval of the Corrective Action Plan within 60 days of audit receipt by the Township Council;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the Corrective Action Plan for the 2019 Annual Audit Report prepared by the Township Chief Financial Officer and attached hereto as “Appendix A” be approved.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #20-14: Refunding Bond Ordinance Authorizing the Issuance of $8,500,000 Refunding Bonds of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-14.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #20-14.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor.

Thomas McClachrie - Vernon Township, asked how much we were planning on saving. He is concerned that the Township is not saving any money on the bonds.

Business Administrator Voelker explained that we will be saving $800,000 over a ten-year period.

Peg Distasi - Vernon Township, feels that we should have full disclosure in the ordinance to tell us what the ordinance is for.

Seeing no one else wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #20-14.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #20-14.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Weller
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #20-14.

Ordinance #20-15: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Designating Main Street as “2020 Senior Drive”

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-15.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #20-15.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Peg Distasi - Vernon Township, asked if this is a permanent name change or just to add a sign to the name Main Street.

Mayor Burrell answered that the intent was a permanent renaming.

Jessica Paladini - Vernon Township, asked for clarification, if the name was being changed from Main Street to 2020 Senior Drive or is 2020 Senior Drive going to be in addition to the historic name Main Street.

Mayor Burrell answered that the ordinance was to permanently rename Main Street.

Ms. Paladini said this is an unprecedented act because she does not know anywhere in the County or State where they have renamed a road after high school seniors. Ms. Paladini said that every single student in Vernon lost. Taxpayers spent $38,000,000 to develop Main Street with sewers, water and a town center shopping district and with a stroke of a pen you are going to call it something else. Ms. Paladini asked about the legal ramifications for giving addresses new names. Ms. Paladini said that the verbiage in the ordinance is completely falsified because the 2020 Seniors had both their prom and their graduation.

Sandra Omms - Vernon Township, said that the name Main Street was being changed long before Covid and asked what was the original intent to changing the name. She feels using the Seniors is just an excuse to change the name because we wanted to change it a long time ago. She believes that changing the name takes the heat off all the negative of Main Street.

Sally Rinker - Vernon Township, wrote a comment that the ordinance says the 2020 Senior Drive sign would be placed over the Main Street sign yet the Mayor said it would be permanent and she would like to know which one it is.

Mayor Burrell said it would be whichever the ordinance says that was introduced by the Council.

Seeing no one else wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #20-15.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Council Member Murphy asked if the property owners on Main Street were notified of the ordinance. She feels if they were not notified it would be great to table the ordinance and ask the property owners if they have any objections and see if there is any feedback.

Mayor Burrell said that Council Member Murphy’s recommendation is one he would not disagree with and he did not contact any of the owners himself.

Business Administrator Voelker said he would contact the property owners.

Council President Shortway said we have clearly made public notice that we intended to do this and we Received no contact or rejections. In addition, Council President Shortway did want to rename Main Street because he feels it is not a Main Street as we recognize Mains Streets to be. He also feels that this was an act of kindness to the Seniors who had a landmark life event disrupted and it is an act of kindness that we recognize this. Council President Shortway said he was approached by many parents and was asked to support this. There was ample opportunity for business owners to come forward to say this would create a hardship and he received no complaints from anyone.

Mayor Burrell explained that he has three individuals oppose this but he has had tons of individuals who thanked him for doing this. He said this is a historic and unusual time in our town history and there has never been anything like this Covid virus. Mayor Burrell feels that the 2020 Senior Drive says something positive about who we are as a town.

Council Member Pitsker said let’s do our due diligence and check with the property owners and reevaluate and be patient.

Council Member Murphy made a motion to table this ordinance to the next meeting, seconded by Andrew Pitsker.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Murphy, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: Auberger
Absent: Weller
Motion passed to table Ordinance #20-15.

Public Comments

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to opened the meeting for public comments.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Peg Distasi - Vernon Township, feels that the Seniors did not lose a leg or a life in a war they did not do anything except have to attend internet classes to graduate. She does not think naming our Main Street after them is warranted. Ms. Distasi does agree that the street the high school is on should be renamed to honor them and maybe plant trees with a plaque on them. She said they missed a few days of school and we are making this into more than it really is.

Sandra Ooms - Vernon Township, feels that Peg Distasi has a great idea. She said it seems like we act like opportunists, at times when we want something we it get by naming it something else. Ms. Ooms said the Seniors went through a difficult time but they did not die in a war and there are a lot of names you can name that street. She feels that it should remain Main Street and to her it is covering up a failure and that no one will speak about it anymore.

Martin O’Donnell - Vernon Township, disagrees with many of the people on the 2020 Senior Drive issue in particular those who do not have a high school child who was a senior. If you do not have a high school senior, you minimize the impact that this had on the children. Mr. O’Donnell has a high school senior and has seen hour of tears. They did have their prom and graduation but there was a time when they thought they weren’t going to and this was a very stressful time for them. Mr. O’Donnell asked the Council to consider co-naming Main Street and not changing the name. He feels there is nothing wrong with putting another sign above the Main Street sign that says 2020 Senior Drive. He said it does not have to be official it just has to be there.

Thomas McClachrie - Vernon Township, commented on the bond ordinance 20-14 that was adopted tonight saying it looks like it is going to be a wash. Mr. McClachrie commented that Main Street was supposed to be built fully in 2010 and it is empty with no one there.

Sally Rinker - Vernon Township, feels that a plaque can be put up on Main Street to call it Senior Drive. She feels that just because nothing is on Main Street at the moment, we have spent a lot of money to put sewers on Main Street. Mayor Burrell talked about putting water in the town center. Ms. Rinker feels that if we keep diminishing the value of that location we start to work again ourselves to ever build the place that it is supposed to be. Also, we will create a marketing problem for that area of our town center to take away the name Main Street. Ms. Rinker asked for clarification as to whether the ordinance says that 2020 Drive is in addition to place and will be placed above Main Street.

Mayor Burrell does not see anything in the ordinance that this says placed above.

Ms. Rinker feels that no marketing company in the world would say take away Main Street. She is talking on the viewpoint of economic development for our town center and taking away Main Street will be a very detrimental thing to do.

Toni Celli - Vernon Township, commented that about two years ago she was on the Economic Development Advisory Committee and they thought it would be a good idea to start the Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately, this year she had to resign but Mishelle Downtain took over and has done an amazing job. Ms. Celli said the Farmer’s Market is just growing and it is wonderful to see. She feels the whole town should be thankful to have someone like Mishelle in our town and is so supportive of Vernon. Also, Councilwomen Weller has been picking up the slack, as well as the Recreation Committee. Ms. Celli thanked all of them for taking the Farmer’s Market and making it better.

Dan Krause - Vernon Township, commented that the meeting tonight was very educational. He said he enjoyed learning about the Vernon Community Pump Track soil samples, the idea of relocating the pump track a little further North according to Cory Stoner and some of the visions that are being spoken about internally. Mr. Krause is looking forward to learning more about it. Ms. Krause feel that it could be detrimental to lose the name Main Street but he is in favor of adding the name 2020 Senior Drive but just as an addition. He feels we would lose some of the marketability for some of the businesses to check the area out and grow roots here. Mr. Krause said that there is land for sale here that could be viewed differently when you do not see the designation of a Main Street.

Jessica Paladini - Vernon Township, feels that the report for the soil piles in no way exonerates us from building a children’s playground in a toxic site and has been a dump for more than twenty years. She is very disappointed for the lack of regard for the environment and our children. Ms. Paladini would like to know how we will address all the buried asphalt, steel drainage pipes and everything else that is there to dispose of it correctly. She also asked about the wetlands which the photographs show. Ms. Paladini said shame on Tom McClachrie who is a former thirty-year DEP enforcement agent, by making light of a toxic waste dump and saying unless someone is pushing up daisies there you will never know what is there. Ms. Paladini said 152 phots show toxic waste is buried there and also dumped in the wetlands. She feels Mr. McClachrie should go see what is buried there.

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Mayor’s Comments

Mayor Burrell commented that he appreciates the very compromising statements that Mr. O’Donnell. Ms. Rinker and Mr. Krause communicated in reference to 2020 Senior Drive. It makes an awful lot of sense and it sounds to be something that would allow us to move forward with what many of us feel we should do to support what this town is about in relation to our seniors. Mayor Burrell does not think that having another sign in addition will be an insult to any of the seniors because the 2020 Senior Drive will be there.

Mr. Council President and other Council Members, on tonight, I use my report to make one commission appointment, and to share with you and our residents my thoughts on two other items:

Commission Appointment: First, I want to thank Ms. Cara Brown for her service on the important Municipal Environmental Commission. It is with great regret that I accept her resignation from this commission.

Ms. Brown served not only as a Commission member, but also as the Commission’s Chairperson. I was not at all surprised at her outstanding performance on this Commission, for I am very much aware of the leadership role that she played as an Environmental Science teacher in our town’s school district. In that capacity, she organized the Vernon Township High School Eco-Fair; she planned and ran the Environmental Education Program at Lounsberry Hollow Middle School during the period 2006-2010; and she played a key role in helping the students at Vernon Township High School form a new chapter of the environmental organization, the Green Team.

I wish her good luck, and hope that she will consider serving our town again in some capacity.

Second, I want to appoint Ms. Diane Wexler to fill the unexpired term on this commission that was vacated by Ms. Brown. Ms. Wexler will be serving in a term that ends on 12.31.21.

Ms. Wexler is but one of several outstanding individuals who submitted volunteer applications to serve on the Municipal Environmental Commission.

I chose to appoint her because she brings a significant amount of important experience to this commission.

For example, during 2011 through 2016, she served on the Environmental Commission, and also served as the Commission’s Liaison to the Municipal Land Use Board.

She also currently serves on the Sussex County Vocational Technical School’s Board of Education, and for the past three years has served as that Board’s Vice President.

So, on tonight, not only do I appoint Ms. Wexler as a member of the Municipal Environmental Commission, under the authority granted me by the State of New Jersey, I also hereby appoint her as the Commission’s Chairperson.

Item No. 1: Is the need for our town to increase the level at which we are responding to the 2020 Census.

As of this date, New Jersey’s response rate is 65.7%; the Sussex County response rate is 67.8%; but our town’s response rate is just 60.6%. And that’s not good.

These census results will be vital to our efforts to move our town forward, and to make our town an even better place to live and raise a family; and, a place where businesses will want to locate and prosper.

For example, census results affect planning and funding for employment and training - - including programs for vocational rehabilitation state grants for dislocated workers.

Census results affect planning and funding for infrastructure - - including programs for highway planning and construction, community development, and rural water and waste disposal systems.

Census results affect planning and funding for education - - including programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants, school lunches, adult education, and grants for preschool special education.

And, census results affect planning and funding for healthcare - - including programs such as Medicaid, Medicare Part B, State Children’s Health Insurance, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

I encourage all Vernon residents who have not yet responded to the census to please do so. I have responded for my household, and it was easy and simple to do. It took only about five minutes.

Item No. 2: In my final comment, I speak more to the residents of Vernon because I believe that the Council and I are in agreement on the best place to locate a Municipal Bicycle Pump Track. We believe that best place to be in the Town Center area, off of Black Creek Drive.

As I previously explained, I support this site because I believe that building the Pump Track at this location will significantly enhance the value of the proposed Town Center Bike and Walking Trail, and contribute to helping that trail achieve one of its key objectives - - that of attraction families, visitors, and other potential customers to that portion of our town that I and others believe will enable Vernon to achieve the maximum potential of its economic assets in a way that will improve the long term vitality of the township.

In addition, I believe that developing our town center in the area parallel to State Route 94 where the Town Center Bike and Walking Trail is planned, and where the town already has sewer service lines and capability, will contribute to the creation of more paying MUA customers, which is essential if we are to reduce our significant municipality’s MUA related deficit. Reducing our municipality’s significant MUA related deficit will also contribute to our town being able to bring a halt to the ever increasing, and I believe unsustainable and unfair, MUA fees that’s draining the financial life out of the approximately 1700, or 7%, of our town’s population.

And, in spite of what has been touted in some Facebook posts, I have absolutely no reason to believe or conclude that this site, that I, as well as a great many others, who share my enthusiasm about the possibility of a Vernon Pump Track - - I have absolutely no reason to believe or conclude that this location is nothing more than but one of the many beautiful and safe locations in our township for families and visitors to enjoy an amenity such as a Pump Track.

In my previous statement on this matter, I said to you that that I would not agree to, or approve, any plan that would build a family friendly facility on a site that I believed was not safe. And that’s a commitment that I will keep. Again, I ask, why would I do otherwise?

In this, as well as any technical matter faced by our town, where I am authorized to make the decision, I will always be guided by science - - by the professionals that we pay to give us advice and guidance.

And the revelation tonight, of the results of soil tests performed by a premier New Jersey environmental consulting and engineering firm, on samples taken from 16 different locations, on the small portion of a 11.3 acres’ site that we plan to use to build our town’s Bicycle Pump Track, is an objective and non-bias confirmation that this site is safe.

Mr. Council President and other Council Members that ends my meeting report.

Council Comments

Council Member Murphy asked about the minutes from the Waste Water Feasibility Committee meetings of May 26th, June 8th and July 18th because she did not receive them yet.

Council Member Murphy asked if the non-union employee salary increases have gone through.

Business Administrator Voelker answered saying yes the non-union employee increases have gone through.

Council Member Murphy commented that this is the first year that she has been on the Council that we have not seen or voted on this resolution. She said when members of the public speak about no transparency, you are giving them a clear path to do what they please with the money in the budget. Council Member Murphy is disappointed that this did not come before the Council because in years past it always has. She said as a matter of fact it was John Ursin that made the recommendation that we always have that come through.

Council Member Murphy said a few months ago there was a big push to have all the employees switch to direct deposit for accounting purposes. She said a lot of checks are written to the building department for permits and fire prevention. Council Member Murphy asked for years if these payments could be automated. She has had individuals say that their permits were held up waiting for check to come in the mail and with Covid this would reduce the number of people entering the building. Council Member Murphy has seen no progress with this and other Municipalities are doing this for years.

Council Member Murphy is concerned about the sewer and the proposed transfer station and partnering up with Mountain Creek, she said that number seven in the settlement agreement states that Mountain Creek shall not be required to pay a connection fee or allocation permit fee as those items are defined in articles 1 and 8 of the sewer agreement for the You are looking for a private/public entity. If Mountain Creek is involved in this and the transfer station is built on their property does that mean that connection fees would be waved the Vernon Township MUT could be out a lot of money. Also, if this was built on their property does that suffice as part of their development and if that’s the case what does that do to the future.

Council Member Auberger commented that the spot that Cory Stoner proposed to build the pump track has amazing views and it would do double duty because you would have parking also for the trail system if and when it goes through. As far as the storage yard, it is needed by the DPW. Council Member Auberger said that in the past they have stockpiled materials to use on drainage, repairing catch basins and emergency road fillings. Sweepings are brought in until they can be bought to SCUMA. We stockpile asphalt when road repair is being done and old concrete pipe when drainage is being repaired and when there is enough we send this out to licensed recycling facilities when there is enough time to send it out. Past administrations have turned a blind eye because it cost money to send out and get recycled. This will be better when it is cleaned up and like the Mayor said separated. Council Member Auberger said as far as the metal pipe, he doubts that there is anything is buried down there because anytime this needed to be scrapped the Township received money that went back into the General Fund.

Council Member Pitsker said that at the last meeting he commented on the Building Department and a complaint he received. He said after going through the story it was evident that there is a lot of follow up that needed to be done by the contractor as well as the Building Department. The story started out with the permits taking 3 to 4 months but after the actual permits were put in it was actually July 31st and after going to the Board of Health and coming back August 3rd only 5 days had lapsed. Council Member Pitsker said the Building Department under new management is doing a great job addressing issues and there is more to do to automate and in the future things will get better.

Council Member Pitsker gave a shout out to the Recreation Department. He said he was at the Farmer’s Market and they do a lot and you can see the efforts made by all of them. He said it was also nice to see the donations the animal shelter collected.

Council Member Pitsker showed appreciation to the Trackside Grill for the banner they hung up supporting the police. The rally that was held on the 15th was well attended and it was respectful from everyone who drove by.

Council Member Pitsker explained that regarding the MUA we are trying to be as transparent as possible and trying to get minutes updated. If anyone wants to know about the six charters, please go on the MUA website and see the descriptions and the updates.

Council Member Pitsker gave his insights on Cara Brown and said hats off to her and hopefully she will join us in the future in some other volunteer organization.

Council President Comments

The recent charitable bike event raised money for a most noble cause. However, the safety and well-being of its participants, residents, and those traveling on Sandhill Rd, Vernon Crossings and RT 517 were jeopardized.

During the riding event, I observed the following at the Sandhill Parking lots and along the intersection of Sandhill Rd, Vernon Crossings and RT 517.

Covid-19 guidelines were not being followed.

Packs of an estimated 50 riders were riding four or more abreast across the northbound lane at points of Route 517. This action impeded northbound traffic causing motor vehicles traveling north to pass the cyclists in the southbound lane where passing is not permitted.

Apparent event staff were conducting traffic at the intersection of Sandhill Rd, Vernon Crossings and RT 517 without authorization.

Their apparent private vehicles were parked at the intersection within 50 feet of the stop sign controlling Vernon Crossing traffic entering onto Rt. 517.

Those conducting traffic were not wearing high-visibility safety apparel meeting the ANSI 107-2015 standards as required.

The above described roadways do not have bike lanes, at some points, shoulders are practically non-existent, there are hills and curves creating blind spots, and parking for the AT Boardwalk on Rt 517 causes its own challenges. Also, on countless occasions I have observed in the past motor vehicles traveling at excessive speeds. There have been numerous accidents along 517 and Vernon Crossings over the years. Some resulted in fatalities and serious bodily injuries.

I promptly reported my observations to our BA to be forwarded to the police department for immediate corrective action.

Now, I respectively request that our current administration conduct an investigation into this matter to identify what factors caused these safety hazards and corrective actions based on facts be implemented to prevent any future events from causing the same or similar hazards.

___________________________________

It is with great sadness I inform the public that our Environmental Commission Chairperson has resigned.

The EC Chairperson wrote in her letter the following:

“I cannot allow myself to continue to be subjected to personal and professional attacks, especially when I am doing this as a volunteer. There are two individuals working in concerted effort at subterfuge who have caused much unnecessary stress.

Mayor Burrell described and responded to Ms. Brown as follows: I did not re-read but concur.

I am not at all surprised at the good job that you are doing on this commission because I am very much aware of the leadership role that you have played as an Environmental Science teacher in our town’s school district - - i.e., you organized the Vernon Township High School Eco-Fair; you planned and ran the Environmental Education Program at Lounsberry Hollow Middle School during the period 2006-2010; and you played a key role in helping students at Vernon Township High School form a new chapter of the Green Team.

I totally agree with the Mayor’s assessment of Ms. Brown’s achievements and we are so fortunate not only to have her teach our children but also as a member of our Vernon Family.

HPC Chairperson

As mayor, I refused to adopt a policy of appeasement towards Mayor Marotta’s political supporters that included the current Historical Preservation Commission Chairperson whose narcissistic goal was to disrupt my administration.

The HPC Chairperson accused me on social media and at council meetings of creating a “Nazi Vernon” and of harboring “the most terroristic, lying, annihilating government our township has had.”

Under the Marotta administration, the HPC Chairperson, served as Environmental Commission secretary, and also held paid positions as secretary to both the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority and Vernon Historic Preservation Commission.

At that time, the Vernon Township Historical Society, a private non-profit organization, that is not part of our Government, of which she remains president, was also receiving township subsidies that included thousands of dollars and practically a rent free building. I discontinued these subsidies paid for by your property tax dollars.

I discovered near the end of my mayoral term that this building was not connected to the sewer system as required. In addition, although approved by the MUA when the chairperson was its secretary, the sewer rates were not increased for almost two years. The rate was increased as dictated by lawful resolution when I discovered this “oversight” and brought it to the attention of the current commissioners.

When I refused to reappoint her to the Land Use Board, she sued.

Superior Court Judge David Weaver dismissed the case with prejudice.

The HPC Chairperson then attempted to deny the public from learning of the Judge’s decision. She requested Judge Weaver “to prohibit either party from discussing this decision in the media or anything” because “I would immediately post abusive language about her on my Facebook page and then residents in Vernon will join in and say the most horrible things about her.”

The HPC Chairperson is infamous for publicly criticizing elected officials, our professionals and more importantly, our volunteers who serve our community. Her actions have caused some volunteers to resign. She can dish criticism but can’t take it when it is directed at her. Demonstrated by her attempt to block transparency regarding her dismissed law suit.

Judge Weaver promptly denied the HPC Chairperson’s request, saying several times that the matter was a public proceeding and that he was “not going to enter a gag order.”

$33,000 taxpayer dollars and dozens of man-hours were spent to defend the Township and your elected officials from the HPC Chairperson’s frivolous allegations.

The magnitude of her deviance was exposed and now her attempts to impede our efforts to move our community forward continue.

The HPC Chairperson continues out of ignorance or malice, to create controversy in her attempt to disrupt township business by spreading false allegations. Specifically, that the DPW storage yard is a toxic waste dump.

It has been brought to my attention by residents that the HPC Chairperson has now made a complaint to the DEP regarding the Township’s storage yard. The complaint and a digital image of myself with volunteers, 55 gallon drums, and tires were posted to her Facebook group. It insinuated that this image is of our storage yard. It is not.

The image depicts myself with children who blazed the Sandhill Trail, inventorying the debris.

We discovered the depicted debris and later learned that decades ago residents dumped their garbage at this site. This “dump” is almost a mile (as the crow flies) from the present DPW storage yard.

In fact, it is immediately adjacent to the Western Scenic Byway that the HPC chairperson sponsors. I do not support this by-way due to safety concerns.

Now, the Western Scenic Byway Committee can include a historic community dump to its list of amenities along its by-way.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Vice President Auberger, seconded by Council Member Pitsker with all members voting in favor.

The Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:12 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: September 14, 2020