All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.

Minutes: August 25, 2014

YouTube video of the August 25, 2014 council meeting »

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 25, 2014 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Brian Lynch presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 8, 2014, 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 of Members

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Council President Brian Lynch and Township Attorney Kevin Kelly.

Executive Session

The Township Attorney, Kevin Kelly, read the resolution for Executive Session:

Resolution to Go into Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist;

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

1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter specified subject matter.

2. The general nature of the subject matters to be discussed is:

a. Pending Litigation—Initiative Ballot-Question (N.J.S.A.10:4-12 (b) 7)

3. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to adjourn into executive session:

Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor.

The Council adjourned into executive session at 6.36 p.m.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to return to open session:

Motion: Daniel Kadish
Second: Patrick Rizzuto
All members present were in favor.

The Council returned to open session at 7:30 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

Clerk Kirkman re-read the statement. Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 8, 2014, 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.

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto and Council President Brian Lynch. Council Member Dick Wetzel was present via phone. Also present were Mayor Victor Marotta, Township Attorney Kevin Kelly and Special Township Attorney John Ursin.

Salute to the Flag

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

Presentations

Police Promotions

Council President Lynch requested that Chief Randy Mills, Cpl. Sean Talt, Cpl. William Gebhard and Cpl. Jason Haw, please come to the podium.

Chief Mills noted that it had been a long time since the Police Department had been able to make promotions to Sergeant, not because of the Township but because of a stay placed by civil service due to litigation. Chief Mills was pleased to be able to make the promotions.

Chief Mills stated that Cpl. Sean Talt had been hired by the Vernon Township Police Department in 1988 as a dispatcher. In 1990, he became an NYPD Officer, in 1993 he became a Syracuse, NY police officer and then returned to Vernon in 1994 as a patrol officer. Corporal Talt was assigned to the detective bureau in 2002, then to the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Cyber Crime/Child Porn Task Force in 2008. Corporal Talt will be assigned as supervisor of the Detective Bureau as Sergeant.

Chief Mills stated that William Gebhard had been hired by the Vernon Township Police Department as a dispatcher in 1993. In 2000, he became a patrol officer before he was assigned as a K9 officer in 2003. Then in 2011 Corporal Gebhard was assigned to the detective bureau. In 2014 Corporal Gebhard returned to the patrol division as a supervisor. Corporal Gebhard will be assigned to the Patrol Division as Sergeant.

Chief Mills stated that Jason Haw had been hired as a patrol officer in 2000. Chief Mills explained that Corporal Haw was assigned as the Traffic Safety and Community Relations Officer in 2006. In 2011, Corporal Haw was assigned to the Detective Bureau as the School Resource Officer and then in 2013 he was named Vernon PAL Director. Corporal Haw will be assigned to the Patrol Division as Sergeant.

Mayor Marotta swore each of the officers utilizing the following Oath:

Oath of Allegiance and Office
Chap. 217, P.L. 1971. N.J.S.A. 41:1-1 and 41:1-3

I, the officer stated their name, do solemnly affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to the Governments established in the United States and in this State, under the Authority of the People.

I do further solemnly affirm that I will faithfully, impartially and justly perform all the duties of Sergeant in the Police Department of the Township of Vernon, according to the best of my ability, so help me God.

Vernon Historical Society—Western Highlands Scenic Byway

Council President Lynch requested that Jessi Paladini and Shirley Baldwin of the Vernon Historical Society please come forward.

Jessi Paladini stated that the Historical Society had been successful in its application to make the 8th scenic byway in New Jersey, the Western Highlands Scenic Byway which runs right through Vernon. Ms. Paladini reported the formal approval was given on July 29, 2014. Ms. Paladini stated that the declaration was filed with the NJ Division of Highways and the Byway runs from Route 23 in Hardyston and goes through to 515 into Vernon. Ms. Paladini noted the designation of a byway provided eligibility for grants and would increase tourism. Ms. Paladini stated the Historic Society would be distributing a brochure which would highlight the byway and historical sites through out the Township. Ms. Paladini thanked the Council for their support on this issue and thanked the Vernon Historic Society members for their hard work.

Public Comment

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Patrick Rizzuto
All members were in favor.

Natalie Mahoney, stated she was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and that she was doing a run to raise funds for awareness about this issue. Ms. Mahoney stated she would be financing the run which would be held on Saturday, September 13 at the Boat House in Waywanda State Park. Ms. Mahoney stated the entrance fee for the run was $20 and would support a walker, runner or stander.

Martin Perringer, stated that school would begin again shortly and that he was requesting their budget. Mr. Perringer stated that the school could be doing more, as the Township schools were in the middle of the school ranks. Mr. Perringer noted that children can be sent to or from our district and for each child sent to our district brings in $10,000; if they go out it costs $10,000. Mr. Perringer stated there is not a lot of business coming to Vernon because of the Highlands Act so if the schools can be improved the children will be better educated and it will save tax money. Mr. Perringer further stated that if the schools were better the value of residents’ homes would improve. Mr. Perringer stressed putting more ownership into education.

Roy Tanfield stated that he felt the PILOT ordinance was important. Mr. Tanfield noted that taxes in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation and PILOT programs are common in other states. Mr. Tanfield pointed out that NY is giving out far more generous tax breaks currently, 10 years with no taxes to businesses. Mr. Tanfield stated a 30 year term for the agreement was needed and it will benefit the sewer. Mr. Tanfield opined the Township would be better off with the water park.

Christa Gerry stated that people need to stand up for what they believe in. Ms. Gerry noted that people had the right to agree or disagree with the policies. Ms. Gerry opined that policticans do not always do things for the people. Ms. Gerry said she was grateful for public officials that stand up for what they believe in. Mr. Gerry stated she was grateful to the members of the committee who stand up to the bullies.

Robert Oliver, Vernon questioned if the Council President had banged his gavel in the last several years. Mr. Oliver questioned if the former Council President had gaveled anyone. Council Member Rizzuto stated he did not believe he had ever used his gavel. Mr. Oliver stated that another resident had implied that the gavel had been used to silence free speech. Mr. Oliver stated he encouraged the Board of Education to look and see what other school districts do as Vernon was spending at least $1,500 more per pupil than neighboring township with poor results. Mr. Oliver encouraged the Township ask the school district to justify their expenditures.

Bonnie Rubin stated she had read an article published 24 years ago yesterday that talked about when the Playboy Club was turned to “Seasons” which was supposed to be a four seasons resort which included plans for a conference center. Ms. Rubin stated history is about to repeat itself in Vernon.

Len Coloccia, Great Gorge Village stated that he was opposed to the PILOT program and felt that 30 years was too long. Mr. Coloccia stated the value of the funds in the future will be less. Mr. Coloccia said this will effectively cut the taxes in half for the water park property. Mr. Coloccia opined that the additional staff required and labor in the Township would cause a push in tax. Mr. Coloccia stated that the property owner wants to build here so it did not matter if other areas gave tax breaks. Mr. Coloccia stated waiving the cost for the VFW for sewer hookup was completely wrong and non profits should not benefit off the backs of the tax payers.

Closed to Public Comments

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Lynch asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Township Mayor’s Report

  • Mayor Marotta stated the Township was moving forward with the abandoned oil tank that had been found. Mayor Marotta stated the price to clean and get a certification for the tank was $14,000. Mayor Marotta noted that this evening a resolution included the purchase of a police interceptor vehicle for the building department. Mayor Marotta explained the Township would be standardizing their vehicles but that it would not include the police package, i.e. lights and cage.
  • Mayor Marotta stated that they had met with D&H risk brokers regarding insurance and they are preparing data for our insurance purposes for the 2015 budget.
  • Mayor Marotta noted that expenses had increased for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield due to serious health care cases for retired workers but the Township had a young and healthy group. Mayor Marotta indicated that the Federal Tax will continue to increase due to Obamacare which had added $192,000 last year with more expected this year.
  • Mayor Marotta stated the Township had received a letter from the Highlands Council which indicated their pleasure in the excellent work of the municipality regarding the Highlands Ordinance.
  • Mayor Marotta stated that on August 6 there had been an inspection by the NJ DOT for Rudetown Road and the road has been restored to its natural state and the matter is resolved.
  • Mayor Marotta stated his office had received a flyer about the 9/11 Day of Remembrance sponsored by the Girl Scouts at the Vernon Flats at 6:30 p.m. with a buffet dinner at the VFW to follow.

Approval of Minutes

It was moved and seconded as noted below to approve the following minutes:

August 11, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes

Moved: Pat Rizzuto
Seconded: Dick Wetzel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None

Motion carried to approve minutes for August 11, 2014.

Consent Agenda

Council President Lynch gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #14-140 - #14-145.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to adopt Resolutions #14-140 - #14-145.

Moved: Dan Kadish
Seconded: Patrick Rizzuto

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Resolutions #14-140 - #14-145 were adopted.

Resolution #14-140: Authorizing Change Order #1 and Final Acceptance of Contract for Drainage Improvements to Upper Plateau and Murphy Court

WHEREAS, on May 12, 2014, by way of adoption of Resolution #14-78, the Council of the Township of Vernon awarded a contract to Earth-Tec Associates for Drainage Improvements to Upper Plateau Drive and Murphy Court which contract provided for an expenditure of $32,975.00; and

WHEREAS, in a memo dated August 12, 2014, the Township Engineer states that said contract has been completed and recommends the project be accepted as final and complete; and

WHEREAS, in processing the final paperwork for the project, certain additional work, as stated in Change Order No. 1 herein attached, were unanticipated in the original bid awarded but necessary for the project; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer, in concurrence with the Mayor, recommends approving Change Order No. 1 which will increase total contract amount by $2,923.72 to a total of $35,898.72; and

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer has certified that funds are available to support this change order in Account#79120123.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that it hereby approves the Township Engineer’s recommendations and authorizes the Mayor to execute said Change Order No. 1 for said project increasing the total contract amount to $35,898.72 and thereby accepts the Drainage Improvements to Upper Plateau Drive and Murphy Court project as final and complete; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that certified copies of this Resolution be forwarded to Earth-Tec Associates and the Township Engineer.

Resolution #14-141: Authorizing In Rem Foreclosure Proceedings

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon holds Tax Sale Certificates more specifically set forth in the annexed Tax Foreclosure List, which pertain to property within Vernon Township; and

WHEREAS, the Council of the Township of Vernon has determined that said Tax Sale Certificates shall be foreclosed by summary proceedings In Rem.

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

That the Tax Certificates, as shown on the annexed Tax Foreclosure List, now held by the Township of Vernon, be foreclosed by summary process In Rem as described in N.J.S.A. 54:5-104.29, et seq., as amended, and pursuant to the Rules of Civil Practice of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Resolution #14-142: Resolution to Award a Contract to H and H Auto Parts Using the U.S. Communities Contract #1101149

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a need to purchase auto and truck parts and;

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 52:34-6.2 et seq., allows local contracting units to utilize National Cooperative Contracts as a method of procurement when cost effective; and

WHEREAS, H and H Auto Parts, 287 Route 94, Vernon NJ 07462 is a recognized retailer of Car Quest Auto Parts ; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent has determined that using the US Communities contract to purchase auto and truck parts may, in some instances, be more cost effective than utilizing the state contract or a competitively bid contract; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent has also determined that the US Communities contract #1101149 was awarded in a fair and open process; and

WHEREAS, this contract expires on August 31, 2015, with an option to renew for an additional two (2) years, at the discretion of US Communities; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, the Mayor is authorized to execute a contract H and H Auto Parts, 287 Route 94, Vernon, New Jersey 07462 using the US Communities contract #1101149

Resolution #14-143: Authorizing the Use of Morris County Co-Op Contract #15A to Purchase One (1) 2015 Ford Utility Police Interceptor Vehicle or Equivalent for the Vernon Township Building Department

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a need to purchase one (1) 2015 Ford Utility Police Interceptor vehicle to be used by the Building Department; and

WHEREAS, Vernon Township desires to use the Morris County Cooperative Council which has publicly received bids for said equipment through Contract #15A, Item #3; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent recommends the Township Council award the contract for one (1) 2015 Ford Utility Police Interceptor vehicle to Beyer Ford, 170 Ridgedale Ave., Morristown, NJ 07962; and

WHEREAS, the total cost for the purchase one (1) 2015 Ford Utility Police Interceptor vehicle will be $25,613.00 and the Chief Financial Officer of the Township of Vernon has certified these funds are available per Ordinance #14-05; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, that the vendor, Beyer Ford, be utilized to purchase one (1) 2015 Ford Utility Police Interceptor vehicle through the Morris County Co-Op; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and the State of New Jersey, the Mayor is authorized to execute a contract with Beyer Ford, 170 Ridgedale Ave., Morristown, NJ 07962

Resolution #14-144: Awarding a Contract to Sportable Scoreboards for the Purchase of Scoreboards

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a need scoreboards for its recreational fields; and

WHEREAS, the Township desires to use SPORTABLE SCOREBOARDS of Murray, Kentucky, whose proposal provides the most cost effective way to repair and restore scoreboards for the Township; and

WHEREAS, SPORTABLE SCOREBOARDS has provided the Township with a quote to deliver scoreboards to the Township for $8,153.22; and

WHEREAS, SPORTABLE SCOREBOARDS was the lowest responsible bidder; and

WHEREAS, the Director of Community Affairs recommends that SPORTABLE SCOREBOARDS be awarded a contract to deliver scoreboards to the Township; and

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer pursuant to NJAC 5:30-5.5(b), has certified these funds are available.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, the Mayor, Clerk and Director of Community Affairs is authorized to execute a contract with SPORTABLE SCOREBOARDS, 106 Max Hurt Drive, Murray, Kentucky 42071 not to exceed $8,153.22.

Resolution #14-145: Refund of Field Usage Fees

WHEREAS, a Camp Louemma, located at 45 Louemma Lane, Sussex, NJ 07461, a not for profit camp, had reserved field space for August 18, 19, 20, 2014 and made a timely cancelation of same; and

WHEREAS, Camp Louemma paid $300.00 for such usage and is now entitled to a refund.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex State of New Jersey, hereby authorize the Township Treasurer to issue check for said refund and the Department of Community Affairs and Recreation shall mark said refund on the following account:

Account #AmountLocation
721316$300.00Maple Grange Park, 25 Maple Grange Road

Introduction/1st Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #14-16: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, and State of New Jersey Establishing the Eligibility of Redevelopment Projects within Designated Areas in Need of Redevelopment for Thirty (30) Year Tax Exemptions and Abatements Pursuant to the Long Term Tax Exemption Law, N.J.S.A. 40A: 20-1, et seq.

Council President Lynch read Ordinance #14-16 by title only.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to take Ordinance #14-16 off the table for introduction with a public hearing to be held on September 22, 2014.

Moved: Jean Murphy
Seconded: Dick Wetzel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch w/comment
Nays: Dan Kadish

Motion carried to take Ordinance 14-16 off the table.

Council President Lynch stated he would like to have a work session on either September 17 or 18 regarding the Ordinance. Special Attorney Ursin stated he could attend on September 17. The Council discussed and agreed that the meeting should be held on September 17 at 6:30 pm.

Council Member Murphy noted that voting to introduce an ordinance is not the same as voting for an Ordinance and confirmed same with Attorney Kelly. Council Member Murphy requested a copy of the other redevelopment ordinances.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #14-16 with a public hearing to held on September 22, 2014.

Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Seconded: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: Dan Kadish

Motion carried to table Ordinance 14-16.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #14-17: An Ordinance to Prohibit the Purchase of “Camp Sussex” Using Open Space Funds and Require All Open Space and Farmland Preservation Purchases to Be Voted on by Vernon Voters

Council President Lynch read Ordinance #14-17 by title only.

The Township Attorney opined that Ordinance 14-17 comes before the Council as a matter of law because of the petition certified on August 1, 2014. Attorney Kelly stated that an imitative is a proposed ordinance introduced by the public; a referendum is a petition in opposition of an ordinance passed by the Council. Attorney Kelly stated the Courts allow for imitative and referendum in this form of government. Attorney Kelly stated there are exceptions:

  1. A portion of this ordinance is unlimited in its duration so he feels it is defective; there are distinct limits established by the Supreme Court.
  2. There are limits on ballot questions with respect to previous ballot questions; 15 years ago 00-16 was adopted and the Township had purchased 9 properties at over $1 million and this ordinance (00-16) was the source of the remaining balance of funds in the account. In 2010, the Supreme Court said something that was adopted by referendum cannot have a referendum.
  3. There is an issue of pre-emption, the State has absorbed the field on this matter.

The Township Attorney stated the adoption of Ordinance 14-17 would obliterate the open space program. Further, Attorney Kelly said, zoning is off limits to imitative and referendum; this is part of the master plan and was adopted as such in June 24, 2010. Therefore, he does not believe it is subject of a ballot question in the fall. Attorney Kelly recommended that it be submitted to the court for a declaratory judgment, but first the Council should have an up or down vote on the Ordinance.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to open the public hearing on Ordinance #14-17.

Moved: Jean Murphy
Seconded: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Phyllis Pfeiffer, Vernon stated that she would hope Mr. Kadish would recuse himself from the vote as he received almost $800,000 from farmland preservation and she felt it would be a direct conflict.

Township Attorney Kelly said that was a long time ago and did not currently pose a benefit to Mr. Kadish and he could vote on it. Council Member Kadish stated it was land purchase, simply just like if you purchase water rights.

Michael Rubin, Highland Lakes, stated it didn’t matter how may referendums or intiatives there are if you pay taxes you have the right to vote and if you obstruct that it is a federal offense.

Sally Rinker, Vernon, stated that the Faulkner law says something should be in effect for 3 years so the ordinance is not unlimited. Ms. Rinker questioned limits on referendum and noted that in 2012 that 00-16 was deleted from the Code. Attorney Kelly stated 00-16 expired in 2006 on its own terms. Ms. Rinker opined that because the Master Plan contains an open space plan, that the ordinance is not talking about the plan but giving the voters the right to spend the money.

Seeing no more members of the public come forward regarding Ordinance #14-17, Council President Lynch asked for a motion to close the public hearing.

Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Seconded: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Council President Lynch asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #14-17.

Moved: Jean Murphy
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: None
Nays: Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Abstain: None

Motion did not carry to adopt Ordinance 14-17.

Council Member Rizzuto motioned that this issue be taken to court and request a declaratory judgment as soon as possible and the Council direct the Township Attorney to seek a declaratory judgment on the validity of this ordinance.

Moved: Pat Rizzuto
Seconded: Brian Lynch

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy
Abstain: None

Motion carried to authorize the attorney to seek a declaratory judgment.

Council Comments

Council Member Rizzuto stated he was pleased to see the police promotions. Council Member Rizzuto stated he watched the active shooter exercise. Council Member Rizzuto stated he was happy to see the police, fire and EMS working together and he felt a great benefit.

Council Member Kadish stated that this is one of the most complex and convoluted evenings.

Council Member Wetzel had no comment.

Council Member Murphy stated she believed that the entire process with Camp Sussex began improperly. Council Member Murphy stated that this council was not elected to send the duties to someone else and that started this roller coaster. Council Member Murphy stated that she believed things are happening and not all the Council is being brought up to speed or informed and all council members should be getting all information.

Council President Lynch stated that Council Member Murphy’s assertion that everyone is not getting the information is wrong. Council President Lynch stated the Council authorized the Mayor to seek information and bring it back, he was not given the authority to purchase it. Council President Lynch stated that the Council has the right to ask the Mayor to get information. Council President Lynch congratulated Attorney Kelly on his upcoming birthday.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the Regular Meeting agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Rizzuto, seconded by Council Member Wetzel with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:04 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: September 22, 2014