Minutes: February 25, 2019

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on February 25, 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 February 14, 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, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, CFO Donelle Bright and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Daniel Kadish was absent.

Salute to the Flag

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

Budget Presentation

Tax Assessor Budget Presentation

Lynne Schweighardt, Vernon Township Assessor, came forward and explained the State demanded the tax maps to be digitalized and new block/lot numbers assigned to all parcels using no decimals. She added the County ordered the Revaluation in 2013 to be done in Vernon not because of the ratio but due to the disparity of the neighborhoods because of tax appeals. Residents will be notified of the inspection process by the Revaluation company by mail, through public meetings and on the Township website. Assessor Schweighardt explained that the home inspection process will begin in March and should be completed by November. Ms. Schweighardt commented that the Township will need review the cost of appeals versus yearly assessment maintenance. Mayor Shortway noted that the Township spent $51,000 in legal services defending tax appeals in 2018. Township Council had no further budget questions.

Police-Animal Control Budget Presentation

Chief Dan Young and Captain Keith Kimkowski came forward to present the proposed 2019 budget and detailed salary line items which have been affected by retirements, promotions and contractual step increases. Chief Young explained department expenses include office supplies, equipment, education, uniforms and tuition reimbursement. He added uniform expenses include gear for new hires and dispatcher uniforms. Other expenses include ammunition, technology, membership fees and service contracts. Chief Young commented the Radio Communication salary budget has been decreased due to a retirement and explained how the three part time dispatcher positions have improved flexibility in coverage and are a significant cost savings.

Chief Young explained the Animal Control budget detailing salary and expense items including office supplies, uniforms, animal food, rabies clinic fees, and spay/neuter program.

Regarding the Capital Budget, Chief Young explained that two new patrol vehicles are requested so that two older ones with excessive mileage can be cycled out of fleet. He explained in 2018 one patrol vehicle and one detective pickup truck was purchased to be used for various police purposes. Council Member Ooms questioned if messaging trailer was bought in 2018. Chief Young explained it was requested but then removed from budget and noted Vernon borrows the county owned trailer if available.

Chief Young added a live scan fingerprint machine and backup generator for Lake Conway Cell Tower is requested to prevent 911 call system from going down. He added Animal Control requests replacement cat cages and garage doors to increase heat efficiency at the shelter. Chief Young explained to Council that the majority of the Animal Control Trust Fund will be used to offset daily expenditures and improve the HVAC system.

Council Member Ooms asked what the top two priority capital items are for the Police Department. Chief Young stated naming only two is difficult as cars are needed to function, the Live Scan Machine is mandated, and the generator is needed to prevent system failure. Council Members had no further questions.

Proclamations

Council President requested the Vietnam Veterans who are the 2019 Parade Grand Marshals, to come forward and Mayor Shortway read the Proclamation for St. Patrick’s Day.

Presentations

Department of Human Services Sussex County Substance Abuse Co-Ordinator Nick Loizzi, Tina Aowie and Ashley Brown came forward to discuss the pending litigation of Marijuana in New Jersey. Ms. Aowie commented her organization makes a positive impact in the community providing education about various substances and their effects. She added there is a major concern of the youth in the community becoming addicted to popular oils, waxes, and edible varieties which will only get worse if recreational use of marijuana is legalized. Ms. Aowie explained there is a concern of the connection between marijuana use and mental illness and studies show use can lead to short term psychosis. She continued that there are limited number of resources nationwide to treat mental illness and legalization will only increase the issues. Ms. Aowie opined that making marijuana readily available seems to contradict efforts put forth through prevention work to protect children and those with disabilities.

Ms. Brown, Coalition Coordinator with Sussex County noted the negative impacts of legalization of marijuana affects the workplace, youth and brain development. She explained how continued use of marijuana will affect the youth’s frontal cortex responsible for planning and judgement lowering the IQ. Life changes could cause higher dropout rates, lower workplace performance, welfare dependency, unemployment and lower life satisfaction. Ms. Brown noted studies show that workers testing positive for marijuana use had 50% more industrial accidents, 89% more job injuries and 75% more absenteeism. Ms. Brown referred to research which shows the increased amount of THC use seems to decrease IQ but noted new research is trying to catch up to the industry. Statistics in Colorado show that with legalization, traffic deaths have increased 151% and hospital visits by 148% due to marijuana use. Mr. Loizzi noted that marijuana use is only legal in 35% of Colorado, 65% have banned recreational and medical use and noted the revenue generated in Colorado was not as high as projected and crime had increased.

Mr. Loizzi stated, per reports by NJ Public Health Associations, that more consideration must be done before approval of legalization of marijuana. The major impact to residents is the cost of enforcement, education, treatment and regulation which the State has shifted to local authorities. He added there is nothing in the proposed bill to direct any revenue to the ones doing the enforcement. Council Member Ooms questioned if the municipality can charge a tax or issue permits to growers or sellers. Mr. Loizzi noted that the State will issue the permits to the distribution entities with required responsibilities. Ms. Brown added a percentage of the revenue received if the bill is approved will go to women and minority funds.

Mr. Loizzi reported that if it becomes legal, towns can decide to permit retail outlets, growing and distribution centers but possession would be allowed all throughout the state. He added that employers can test and could ban completely as any use will stay in an individual’s system for 30 days. Mr. Loizzi stated that if the town opts out, they will not receive any benefit from the state from any sales. He commented the Sussex County Freeholders passed a Resolution opposing the legalization of recreational use of marijuana and Wantage, Lafayette and Montague have also passed legislation with local restrictions. Mr. Loizzi explained a major agricultural impact on farms and water supply with marijuana farms which needs much larger amounts of water to grow negatively affecting other crops and noted much more research is needed. He thanked the Council for opportunity to increase public awareness on the matter and offered further assistance if needed.

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: Mark Van Tassel
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: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger
All members voted in favor.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Regular and Executive Meeting Minutes of February 11, 2019.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark VanTassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Dan Kadish
Motion carried to approve the Regular and Executive Meeting Minutes of February 11, 2019.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy read the title and gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #19-81 through #19-83.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #19-81 through #19-83.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Dan Kadish
Motion passed to approve Resolutions #19-81 through #19-83.

Resolution #19-81: Authorize the Award of a Required Disclosure Contract with “Spatial Data Logic” for Permitting/Licensing Software

WHEREAS, the Township has a need for software use in the Planning & Zoning, Building, Administration, Fire Prevention and Assessor’s Offices for permitting, licensing, electronic maintenance of all inspection reports and transmission of monthly activity reports directly to the Department of Community Affairs; and

WHEREAS, for customer service efficiency and availability, Vernon Township has a need to utilize the Enterprise Licensing System offered by Spatial Data Logic, Somerset, NJ as a required disclosure contract pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.4; for the calendar year of 2019 at a not to exceed cost of $20,150.00 for 13 user licenses.

WHEREAS, the Sean Canning, Q.P.A., has determined and certified in writing that the value of the acquisition will exceed $17,500; and,

WHEREAS, the anticipated term of this contract is for the year of 2019; and

WHEREAS, Spatial Data Logic in the aggregate is expected to provide more than the pay to play threshold of $17,500.00; and

WHEREAS, Spatial Data Logic, has completed and submitted a Business Entity Disclosure Certification and a Personal Contribution Disclosure form which certifies that Spatial Data Logic has not made any reportable contributions to a political or candidate committee in the Township of Vernon in the previous one year, and that the contract will prohibit Spatial Data Logic from making any reportable contributions through the term of the contract, and

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer hereby certifies that funds NOT TO EXCEED $20,150.00 are available as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon authorizes the Mayor to enter into a contract with Spatial Data Logic, not to exceed $20,150.00 for the 2019 budget year for Geologic Software for permitting and licensing purposes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Business Disclosure Entity Certification and Personal Contribution Disclosure form, Determination of Value be placed on file with this resolution.

Resolution #19-82: Emergency Temporary Appropriations

WHEREAS, an emergent condition has arisen in that the Township is expected to enter in contracts, commitments or payments prior to the 2019 budget and no adequate provision has been made in the 2019 temporary budget for the aforesaid purposes, and

WHEREAS, N.J.S. 40A:4-20 provides for the creation of an emergency temporary appropriation for said purpose, and

WHEREAS, the total emergency temporary appropriation resolutions adopted in the year 2019 pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 96, P.L. 1951 (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20) including this resolution total:

Current Fund
Fire Prevention O/E $2,000.00
Building Department O/E $1,000.00

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, (not less than two-thirds of all the members thereof affirmatively concurring) that in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20:

1. Emergency temporary appropriations be and the same are hereby made in the amount of:

Current Fund
Fire Prevention O/E $2,000.00
Building Department O/E $1,000.00

2. Said emergency temporary appropriations will be provided for in the 2019 budget.

3. That one certified copy of this resolution be filed with the Director, Division of Local Government Services.

Resolution #19-83: Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of Not Exceeding $6,992,400 Bond Anticipation Notes of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TOWNSHIP COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF VERNON, IN THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX, NEW JERSEY, AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Pursuant to a bond ordinance of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex (the “Township”) entitled: “Bond ordinance appropriating $1,650,000, and authorizing the issuance of $1,571,000 bonds or notes of the Township, for various improvements or purposes authorized to be undertaken by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey,” finally adopted on March 28, 2011 (#11-07), bond anticipation notes of the Township in a principal amount not exceeding $715,128 shall be issued for the purpose of temporarily financing the improvement or purpose described in Section 3 of said bond ordinance, including (to any extent necessary) the renewal of any bond anticipation notes heretofore issued therefor.

Section 2. Pursuant to a bond ordinance of the Township entitled: “Bond ordinance appropriating $1,484,000, and authorizing the issuance of $1,412,000 bonds or notes of the Township, for various improvements or purposes for emergency services authorized to be undertaken by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey,” finally adopted on April 28, 2011 (#11-08), bond anticipation notes of the Township in a principal amount not exceeding $581,272 shall be issued for the purpose of temporarily financing the improvement or purpose described in Section 3 of said bond ordinance, including (to any extent necessary) the renewal of any bond anticipation notes heretofore issued therefor.

Section 3. Pursuant to a bond ordinance of the Township entitled: “Bond ordinance providing for the acquisition of sanitary sewerage collection and transmission facilities in and by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, appropriating $4,000,000 therefor and authorizing the issuance of $3,809,000 bonds or notes of the Township for financing such appropriation,” finally adopted on November 14, 2011 (#11-22), bond anticipation notes of the Township in a principal amount not exceeding $3,566,000 shall be issued for the purpose of temporarily financing the improvement or purpose described in Section 3 of said bond ordinance, including (to any extent necessary) the renewal of any bond anticipation notes heretofore issued therefor.

Section 4. Pursuant to a bond ordinance of the Township entitled: “Bond ordinance appropriating $2,350,000, and authorizing the issuance of $2,066,000 bonds or notes of the Township, for various improvements or purposes authorized to be undertaken by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey,” finally adopted on June 23, 2014 (#14-12), bond anticipation notes of the Township in a principal amount not exceeding $1,730,000 shall be issued for the purpose of temporarily financing the improvement or purpose described in Section 3 of said bond ordinance, including (to any extent necessary) the renewal of any bond anticipation notes heretofore issued therefor.

Section 5. Pursuant to a bond ordinance of the Township entitled: “Bond ordinance appropriating $3,636,500, and authorizing the issuance of $2,948,000 bonds or notes of the Township, for various improvements or purposes authorized to be undertaken by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey,” finally adopted on June 26, 2017 (#17-09), bond anticipation notes of the Township in a principal amount not exceeding $400,000 shall be issued for the purpose of temporarily financing the improvement or purpose described in Section 3 of said bond ordinance, including (to any extent necessary) the renewal of any bond anticipation notes heretofore issued therefor.

Section 6. All bond anticipation notes (the “notes”) issued hereunder shall mature at such times as may be determined by the treasurer, the chief financial officer or the acting chief financial officer of the Township (the “Chief Financial Officer”), provided that no note shall mature later than one year from its date. The notes shall bear interest at such rate or rates and be in such form as may be determined by the Chief Financial Officer and shall be signed and sealed by officials and officers of the Township in any manner permitted by N.J.S.A. §40A:2-25. The Chief Financial Officer shall determine all matters in connection with the notes issued hereunder, and the Chief Financial Officer’s signature upon the notes shall be conclusive evidence as to all such determinations. All notes issued hereunder may be renewed from time to time subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. §40A:2-8. The Chief Financial Officer is hereby authorized to sell part or all of the notes at not less than par from time to time at public or private sale and to deliver them to the purchasers thereof upon receipt of payment of the purchase price. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to report in writing to the governing body of the Township at the meeting next succeeding the date when any sale or delivery of the notes hereunder is made. Such report must include the principal amount, interest rate and maturities of the notes sold, the price obtained and the name of the purchaser.

Section 7. Any note issued pursuant to this resolution shall be a general obligation of the Township, and the Township’s faith and credit are hereby pledged to the punctual payment of the principal of and interest on the notes and, unless otherwise paid or payment provided for, an amount sufficient for such payment shall be inserted in the budget and a tax sufficient to provide for the payment thereof shall be levied and collected.

Section 8. The Chief Financial Officer is hereby authorized and directed to do all other matters necessary, useful, convenient or desirable to accomplish the delivery of the notes to the purchasers thereof as promptly as possible, including (i) the preparation, execution and dissemination of a Preliminary Official Statement and Final Official Statement with respect to the notes, (ii) preparation, distribution and publication, if necessary, of a Notice of Sale with respect to the notes, (iii) execution of a Continuing Disclosure Undertaking, with respect to the notes in accordance with Rule 15c2 12 promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and (iv) execution of an arbitrage and use of proceeds certificate certifying that, among other things, the Township, to the extent it is empowered and allowed under applicable law, will do and perform all acts and things necessary or desirable to assure that interest paid on the notes is not included in gross income under Section 103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

Section 9. All action heretofore taken by Township officials and professionals with regard to the sale and award of the notes is hereby ratified, confirmed, adopted and approved.

Section 10. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

Public Comments (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

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

Chris Hordych, Glenwood, came forward and thanked Council for their attention to Mountain Creek bankruptcy, MUA matters, vacant property issues and for the safety of the Silver Spruce residents. Mr. Hordych referred to the 2003 Developers Agreement between Vernon Township and Glenwood Homes/New Castle Homes regarding an emergency access road, bridge inspection and deeded portion of roadway to Vernon Township which was never done by the Developer. The issue arose in 2007 when Hurricane Irene damaged the bridge causing the residents needing an emergency secondary access road. He requested the current Council to review the past agreement that was not enforced prior to permits being issued which burden now to construct the access road and repair the bridge is placed on the current homeowners to bear. Mr. Hordych questioned why taxpayers are forced to pay for improvements that the developer was legally bound to complete per the Agreement.

Mr. Hordyck stated he realizes this issue was from a former Council, but opined it is in the interest of the current Council to protect the residents and taxpayers and review this matter to prove the Developer met his requirements in the Agreement. Mr. Hordyck, as a homeowner in the Brook Hollow development, bought his home with the major bridge entrance not a secondary road entrance which cost should have been born by the Developer during construction. Also, of concern during any improvement, is the Category 1 stream, need of guard rails, bus stop safety on RT 565, and condition of very old silo.

Mr. Hordyck explained that if secondary road was done when subdivision was constructed, then in 2007 when bridge was damaged, repairs could have been made and may have qualified for FEMA funds. He commented that he has spent $10,000 of his own money for repairs and engineering costs and the temporary road still cannot be used which has also devalued his home. Mr. Hordyck requested Mayor and Council to enforce the Developer’s Agreement that wasn’t done before. Ms. Kirkman noted plans showed a secondary access road entering the adjacent Colonial Developers Subdivision which was never constructed so the road was never finished. Mr. Hordyck explained that the owner’s safety in Brook Hollow should not be contingent on the other failed development. Council President Murphy stated the Township Attorney will review the agreement. Mr. Hordyck thanked the Council and asked the Mayor and Council to fight for the residents of Brook Hollow just as you fought for the Silver Spruce residents.

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

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway reported that all levels of government are working now to stop the issue on Silver Spruce as a result from people organizing. Per the Supreme Court ruling, Police Officers are now able to enforce the stop work order. Mayor Shortway thanked the Zoning Officers, residents, elected officials for their dedication and time spent in this matter. He also thanked Mike Furrey, Chairperson from the Environmental Commission and the Greenway Action Advisory Committee for conducing analysis from water samples in the area which found unsafe levels of lead. The NJDEP questioned his methodology to discredit him but later confirmed his results. Mayor Shortway opined the NJDEP owes Mr. Furrey an apology and commented Vernon needs to continue forward in full remediation.

Council Comments

Council Member Ooms thanked all involved in the Silver Spruce issue. Ms. Ooms noted she had requested a report of the cancelled appropriations used to pay for Mountain Creek but did not include list of line items and asked Mayor Shortway for revised report. Mayor Shortway stated he will aske CFO and provide to the Council.

Council Member Van Tassel had no comments.

Council Member Auberger praised all involved in the Silver Spruce matter and thanks the residents who came forward to get action done.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy commented it is good to see that all the efforts are finally recognized and addressed in the Silver Spruce matter, especially the Zoning Officers,. Council Member Ooms also thanked the Police Officers for their presence and other Township officials for daily communication with the residents.

Adjournment

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

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: March 25, 2019