Minutes: February 11, 2019

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on February 11, 2019 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 3, 2019 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 Sandra Ooms, John Auberger and Council President Murphy were present. Also present were Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, CFO Donelle Bright DeCouto and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Kadish and Council Member Van Tassel were absent.

Executive Session

Attorney Zielinski read the Resolution for the Council to enter 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 are:

a. Personnel - (N.J.S.A.10:4-12 (b) 8) (Anticipated Time of Disclosure September 2019)

3. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to go into Executive Session at 6:03 p.m.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: John Auberger
All members of the Council were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the Executive Session at 6:42 p.m. and reconvene the Regular Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: John Auberger
All members of the Council were in favor.

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on February 11, 2019 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 3, 2019 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 Sandra Ooms, John Auberger and Council President Murphy were present. Also present was Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, CFO Donelle Bright DeCouto and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Kadish and Council Member Van Tassel were absent.

Salute to the Flag

Council President Murphy led the assemblage in the salute of the flag.

Police Department Promotions

Mayor Shortway announced that Police Chief Arthur “Randy” Mills retired as of February 1, 2019 after 28 1/2 years of service with the Vernon Township Police Department. A plaque was presented to Chief Mills for his dedicated service to the residents of Vernon Township.

Mayor Shortway announced that Captain Daniel B. Young has been promoted to the position of Police Chief of the Vernon Police Department. Mayor Shortway administered the Oath of Office to the new Police Chief Daniel B. Young, along with his wife and family.

Police Chief Young announced that Lieutenant Keith Kimkowski has been promoted to the position and Captain of the Vernon Police Department. Mayor Shortway administered the Oath of Office to Captain Kimkowski along with his wife and family.

Police Chief Young announced that Sergeant Jason Haw has been promoted to the position of Lieutenant of the Vernon Police Department. Mayor Shortway administered the Oath of Office to Lieutenant Haw along with his wife and family.

Police Chief Young announced that Detective Daniel S. Young has been promoted to the position of Sergeant of the Detective Bureau of the Vernon Police Department. Mayor Shortway administered the Oath of Office to Sergeant Young along with his fiance.

Police Chief Young announced that Nicholas Gonzalez has been hired to the Vernon Police Department as a Patrol Officer. Mayor Shortway administered the Oath of Office to Patrolman Gonzalez along with his wife.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to take a short recess at 7:26 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members of the Council were in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to return to the Regular Meeting at 7:37 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy
All members of the Council were in favor.

Proclamations

Council President Murphy read the Proclamation for Black History Month.

Black History Month

WHEREAS, Black History Month affords special opportunity to become more knowledgeable about black heritage, and to hone the many black leaders who have contributed to the progress of our nation;

WHEREAS, such knowledge can strengthen the insight of all our citizens regarding the issues of human rights, the great strides that have been made in the crusade to eliminate the barriers of equality for minority groups, and the continuing struggle against racial discrimination and poverty;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that FEBRUARY 2019 shall be proclaimed BLACK HISTORY MONTH in the Township of Vernon and urge our residents to join together in making this period of rededication to the principles of justice and equality for all people.

Mayor Shortway read a Proclamation for Special Olympics Month.

Special Olympics Month

WHEREAS, the Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of those with special intellectual and physical limitations; and

WHEREAS, Special Olympics Events provide youngsters with individual challenges and the inner satisfaction of success and accomplishments; and

WHEREAS, the Special Olympics have been competing in Vernon for four decades and Genuine Jersey Pride defines Special Olympics New Jersey which celebrates the impact they have on all who participate as well as those privileged to witness the magic every time an athlete with an intellectual disability takes to the slopes, reaches a goal, achieves a personal best time, or simply experiences the joy of participation; and

WHEREAS, Special Olympics helps each youngster learn to play hard and compete to the fullest so as to achieve a success cycle and overcome the patter of failure and frustration that often plagues mentally challenged youngsters who have not had the opportunity to play, practice, compete and achieve; and

WHEREAS, the Special Olympics helps each youngster develop self respect, self discipline, self confidence, physical, social, emotional and mental fitness; positive values such as sportsmanship, responsibility to team and respect for others; the will to succeed; and the ability to achieve their maximum potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Council of the Township of Vernon, do hereby proclaim February as Special Olympics Month in Vernon Township and we thank the participants of the Special Olympics for choosing Vernon to hold their events.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, on this 11th day of February two thousand nineteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy
All members voted in favor.

Resolution Requiring Separate Action

Council President asked to move Resolution #19-79 forward on the agenda and asked for a motion to approve.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve Resolution #19-79.

Resolution #19-79: Appointment of Police Chief

WHEREAS, Police Chief Arthur R. Mills retired effective February 1, 2019; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Harry J. Shortway has interviewed candidates to fill the position of Police Chief; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Harry J. Shortway of the Township of Vernon has determined that Daniel B. Young is a qualified candidate; and

WHEREAS, the position of Police Chief has been offered to Daniel B. Young and he has accepted.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that Daniel B. Young is hereby appointed Police Chief for the Township of Vernon effective February 1, 2019.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that

  1. The Township Council hereby authorizes the Employment Agreement between the Township and Daniel B. Young, Chief of Police, effective on February 1, 2019.
  2. The Mayor of the Township of Vernon is hereby authorized and instructed to execute the attached Employment Agreement on behalf of the Township.
  3. This resolution shall take effect immediately.
  4. A copy of this resolution as well as the contract shall be placed on file with the Township Clerk at the Municipal Building for inspection by the public.

Items for Discussion

Part Time Employee Hours

Council President Murphy explained that the discussion on Part Time Employee Hours will be removed and discussed at upcoming Budget Meetings.

Presentation

Town Center Trail Presentation

Mayor Shortway explained the Town Center Trail Plan began in 1995 in the Master Plan to connect the residential areas with Open Space recreational facilities. The Town Center currently lacks infrastructure and the proposed trail system would connect the Center with the resorts and local businesses as a mixed-use area. He added that Vernon would use the township owned Black Creek lot for a trail head, art walk and parking. The 1995 Master Plan detailed how the Township would benefit from an internal Open Space network and incorporate hiking, running, walking and cycling. In November of 2015, per the County Open Space and Recreation Plan, Vernon representatives noted the Bike Trail as a priority to complete. Mayor Shortway stated in 2018, the Economic Development Advisory Committee conducted a local survey with 349 participants that viewed Vernon as a destination for passive recreation and friendly town center.

Vernon voters then approved a referendum, to allow the use of up to 30% of the Open Space Trust Funds for the creation and maintenance of public pathways for hiking, biking, trails who believe the greenway can be an economic driver. He continued that the Highlands Council approved to provide funds to Vernon to create a Sustainable Economic Development Plan in 2019 with the trail system playing a key role in successful township events or festivals to help small businesses and the Shop Vernon program.

Mayor Shortway described how Vernon volunteers from the Greenway Committee and Recreation Board as well as others have dedicated much time into clearing debris opening the trails. The Township is obtaining necessary easements to create a 1.0-mile trail beginning at the Municipal Complex, through the PAL property to Black Creek Drive. Mayor Shortway explained the Township will aggressively work toward completing the trail to open by September 2019. He estimated the project costs for the initial trail construction to be $185,000 plus $5,000 annual maintenance costs. Mayor Shortway stated the Township Council oversees the Open Space Funds and requested their guidance and approval to move forward with the project. He added that the purchase of the Masker Marsh property is not included in the projected costs that it is a separate property.

Council Member Ooms asked if any grants are available for these purposes. Mayor Shortway explained that grants are highly competitive and require that the Township has a project in place in order to apply. CFO Bright added should a grant be received; a Chapter 159 resolution can be approved to adjust the budget.

Mayor Shortway explained the trail system is an ongoing expanding process which can ultimately go from the New York border to the Water Gap and tie into the Appalachian Trail but urged the Council that Vernon needs to get the first trail started. Council President Murphy added it would be better to have small parking lots throughout the township to distribute traffic. Mayor Shortway added that parking lot at Black Creek Drive is included in the Plan with alternative ideas for future lots.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Regular and Executive Meeting Minutes of January 28, 2019.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: Sandra Ooms
Absent: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve the Regular and Executive Meeting Minutes of January 28, 2019.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #19-77, #19-78 and #19-80.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve Resolutions #19-77, #19-78 and #19-80.

Resolution #19-77: Appointments to the Land Use Board

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF VERNON, COUNTY OF SUSSEX, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, as follows:

1. That the following individuals are hereby appointed as a member of the Vernon Township Land Use Board for a term specified as follows:

Paul Mele Alternate 3 Unexpired term expiring 12/31/2020
Mark Vizzini Alternate 4 Unexpired term expiring 12/31/2019

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

a. Land Use Board Secretary

Resolution #19-78: Resolution Authorizing and Ratifying a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Winter Activity Center for Use of the Municipal Parking Lot

WHEREAS, the National Winter Activity Center (“NWAC”) is dedicated to improving the lives, health and fitness of youth by providing access to winter sports activities; and

WHEREAS, the NWAC has a need for additional parking in connection with events occurring in the Township; and

WHEREAS, the Township has determined that it is in the best interests of the public to provide the NWAC access to the municipal parking lot in connection with upcoming events; and

WHEREAS, the Township and the NWAC have entered a memorandum of understanding concerning the NWAC’s use of the Township lot; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the memorandum of understanding between the Township and the NWAC attached hereto is authorized and ratified.

Resolution #19-80: Authorizing the Use of Open Space Funds for the Construction & Maintenance of the Vernon Town Center Bike & Walking Trail

WHEREAS, the Township wishes to develop a bike and walking trail system in the Township and promote the development of a community that offers free hiking, biking and performing arts programs; and

WHEREAS, the Township approved by Referendum to allow a portion of the Open Space Trust Fund for trail development and other improvements to properties already preserved as open space; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer has proposed a bike and walking trail within the Town Center portion of the Township that would begin at the Township Municipal Complex and travel thru easements and/or land owned by the Township; and

WHEREAS, in said memorandum dated February 5, 2019, the Township Engineer estimated that the cost of for the engineering design for the proposed Town Center Bike & Walking Trail would be $9,000.00; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that it hereby approves the use of funds from the Township Open Trust Fund for the engineering design for the construction of the Town Center Bike and Walking Trail of up to a maximum amount of $9,000.00.

Introduction of Ordinances

None

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Council President Murphy read by title Ordinance #19-04.

Ordinance #19-04: Ordinance Rescinding Ordinance 18-24 (Titled Ordinance Amending and Supplementing the Salary Ordinance for “Non-Union” Employees)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #19-04.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #19-04.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members were in favor

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #19-04.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #19-04.

Public Comments (limited to three minutes only)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Mayoral Appointments

Mayor Shortway appointed Wilfred Nieves to the Greenway Action Advisory Committee with a term expiring December 31, 2019.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway reported he met with partners of SolCell about proposed agricultural processor of Hemp, natural compound found in cannabis but does not disrupt mental capacity which farm could create up to 40 jobs.

Mayor Shortway reported he is scheduled to meet with a solar developer who requested to lease Township property and will report results after meeting.

Mayor Shortway commented he will be testifying before the State Senate Sub-Committee on Thursday Feb 14 at 10:00 am regarding the Dirty Dirt Broker Law and Vernon’s issues on Silver Spruce. He also will encourage new legislature to criminalize the behavior so Police can take action, so it does not spread to rest of Sussex County and State.

Council Comments

Council Member Auberger commented the use of the Black Creek Drive Township parcel is great spot for trail head as there are very old road/pathways which overlook the farms on Sand Hill and sees the potential benefits for businesses.

Council Member Ooms questioned if the Town meetings were taken off of the website. Clerk Kirkman explained the video recording of the meetings can be accessed within the minutes of the meetings. Council Member Ooms requested narrative report of cancelled appropriations needed because of Mountain Creek. CFO Bright indicated she would send a report to the Clerk to be distributed to all Council Members.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy announced that the Township released the Spatial Data Portal which allows public to access permit records from building department. She added positive feedback from the public and Realtors has been received and it reduces the number of requests and phone calls needing township personnel attention.

Council President Murphy commented that per conversation with Highlands Council representatives, although unable to help with Silver Spruce issue, they can act as a support mechanism for the Township.

Council President Murphy announced there will be a Department budget meeting with the Township Council on February 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm and others to follow in next few weeks.

Adjournment

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

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:17 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: February 25, 2019