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

Minutes: January 14, 2016*

Township Council Special Work Session Meeting

The Special Workshop Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 14, 2016 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Dan Kadish presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2016, 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. The purpose of the meeting discussion of Township Council Goals and Priorities.

Salute to the Flag

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

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Jean Murphy, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel and Council President Dan Kadish. Also present was Mayor Harry Shortway and Township Attorney John Ursin.

There was no Executive Session.

National Winter Activity Center

Attorney John Ursin explained that an emergent situation had arisen within the Township. Last evening the Land Use Board approved that National Winter Activity Center (formerly known as Hidden Valley) could open under a temporary Certificate of Occupancy on Saturday. However because there is a temporary certificate of occupancy they must post a bond which has to be approved by the Township Council as required by the Land Use Law. This morning, National Winter Activity Center presented a bond to the Township to allow them to open.

Attorney Ursin explained that the Council can add items to the agenda at any time, certainly if they are known 48 hours in advance they must post same. However, Attorney Ursin explained as this only occurred last night and this morning it was not possible to know this issue 48 hours in advance. Attorney Ursin stated this council can add this item to the agenda for consideration today. Attorney Ursin stated the issue is does the council want to entertain a motion to add the acceptance of the bond to the agenda in order to allow them to open this Saturday.

Motion: To add the acceptance of the National Winter Activity Center to the agenda.

Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dick Wetzel

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

Motion carried to add this item to the agenda.

Public Comment

Council President Kadish asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Jean Murphy
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members were in favor.

Sally Rinker, questioned if there would be a second public comment at the end of the agenda. It was indicated there would not be.

Mary Ellen Vichiconti, Nutley commented on the condition of the Town Center and the divider. Ms. Vichiconti said she thought the township should have a beautification committee. Ms. Vichiconti said the planters, decorations and other items in the divider were not up to snuff and additional money should be put in the budget.

Sally Rinker stated that one of the priorities should be to communicate and collaborate better and she felt a second public session would be reasonable.

Krista Gerry stated she also felt there should be a second public session.

Council Member Dick Wetzel stated he wanted to address decorating the town center. In September he asked for this to be done through the Department of Recreation. Ms. Wiedbrauk of Recreation stated that there were not funds available; banners that were previously purchased were not printed on both sides so they could not be used as they were blank. Council Member Wetzel stated he did not think fireworks were needed for lighting the Christmas Tree and suggested using those funds for decorations in town center. Council Member Kadish stated he felt that could be the first discussion on the agenda.

Closed to Public Comments

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

Items for Discussion

Goals and Priorities

Council President Kadish stated he would like to set a ground rule that when one person is talking other people would not interrupt.

Council Member Wetzel stated he agreed with Council President Kadish, noting that the council needs to demonstrate a genuine respect for different opinions and ideas. He also encouraged that all town Boards embrace openness and align their ideas with the council and communicate with them frequently and that communication between the groups be frequent. Council Member Wetzel stated that he would like to see long term economic and environmental goals to support tourism. Council Member Wetzel indicated he would like to see recreation in the township tied into culture; stating he would like to see it not be just one sided, and move from the “six pack of beer” idea of culture to that of champagne and filet mignon. Council Member Wetzel noted that Vernon was a fantastic place and asked that town events be better promoted. Council Member Wetzel stated people are starving for things to do whether it be a band shell, bike path or anything that gives things to do. Council Member Wetzel stated the town was a diamond in the rough that could be refined whether it be to bring in travel and tourism through passive recreation and bringing in culture and the train. Council Member Wetzel stated the township has a beautiful place and we need to promote the unique character of it. Council Member Wetzel encouraged putting Vernon on the front page for the good things done in town. Council Member Wetzel wanted to see a 5 year capital improvement plan; there has to be a plan and they need to stick with it. Council Member Wetzel indicated you need to study the technology and need of the town and how does this get combined. Council Member Wetzel stated he would like to see the partnership with other towns and the development of the other side of Church Street to get businesses to come there. Council Member Wetzel would like to see sewer and water on the Church Street/Main Street line to promote growth.

Council Member Rizzuto indicated that as a council they need to identify what the council’s responsibilities are and what is the responsibility of the Mayor. Council Member Rizzuto stated that he likewise thought suspending the fireworks was a good idea for at least one season to purchase decorations. Council Member Rizzuto noted that creation of a beautification committee is not under the council but under the Mayor’s authority or a private group. Council Member Rizzuto wished to maintain the current direction of reducing taxes and stabilizing the tax rate as well as to continue to maintain the fund balance and debt payments. Council Member Rizzuto expressed his desire to see the water system expansion to service areas that were not currently covered. Council Member Rizzuto stated the Township should continue to work with developers to continue ratable growth. Council Member Rizzuto noted that the growth in the Township had helped offset the taxes in the Township to residents. Council Member Rizzuto expressed an interest in a long term project with the county to purchase the property on Route 517 and Lake Pochuck Road to reconfigure that intersection. Council Member Rizzuto stated he would like to see the fence extended at Maple Grange Park near the toddler playground and concession stand to prevent little ones from stepping off the hill. Council Member Rizzuto said that the Township financially needed to prepare for the revaluation both for the costs and the loss of assessed value.

Council Member Ooms stated that she thought the council can make or form a beautification committee. Attorney Ursin indicated in the affirmative. Council Member Ooms indicated she would like to see a beautification committee. Council Member Ooms stated she would like to see work sessions in the evenings and on Saturdays. Council Member Ooms stated she would like to see the bills list back on the agenda with a vote. Council Member Ooms stated she would like to see the itemized bills list on the website and that she would like to see other pertinent agreements on the website. Council Member Ooms indicated she would like to review the sewer/SCUMA agreement.

Council Member Murphy indicated that she agreed with Council Member Wetzel about the fireworks at the tree lighting ceremony. Council Member Murphy noted that everyone would get the benefit of the decorations. Council Member Murphy stated she would like to see ethics training for boards and commission members and the council. Council Member Murphy stated the risk management company stated they could advise which boards would benefit from this. Council Member Murphy indicated that she would like to see the administrative code updated because she believed there were many items that were out of date with the current form of government. Council Member Murphy noted that she and Council President Kadish were the current Board of Education liaisons and discussed if Council Member Ooms should take Council President Kadish’s place. Council Member Murphy noted that a Quick Chek had expressed an interest in coming to town center but it was very preliminary. Council Member Murphy also noted that the township needed to keep an eye on the revaluation issue, there was a meeting at the County on January 20. Council Member Murphy noted that the Township needed to put money aside for the severe roof issue, she had seen plastic bags draped around the building to protect cabinets and desks.

Council President Kadish stated he would like to introduce a chicken ordinance so that any property not in private communities with an acre or more would be allowed to have female domestic hens and no more than two accessory buildings and a possible coop. Council President Kadish expressed concern over the distribution control for the salt shed. Council President Kadish expressed an interest in receiving updated FEMA reports from the Mayor. Council President Kadish expressed concern over the condition of the town hall roof. Council President Kadish noted Lt. Governor Guadagno’s comments about the State’s attempts to limit and control the costs of health benefits. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see the Council have their own room or office as they had previously; indicated that he believed there was some office space available. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see the Board of Education building returned to the board of education. Council President Kadish expressed a desire to have the Township formulate a ten year capital plan for the fire and ambulance squads, roads and DPW. Council President Kadish noted the need for the township to have a fund to hire a tree service to fell dead trees that had the potential of blocking the roads. Council President Kadish discussed having a clear rivers ordinance as the rivers were currently blocked with trees and exploring what the DEP allows. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see a farmland preservation and open space committee returned to the books and a maintenance plan be instituted for open space. Council President Kadish stated in New York they have an air-seeder through the Audubon Society. Council President Kadish proposed that the freeholder’s purchase an air seeder that they can loan to a farmer with a brush hog for open space that is being overcome by multi-floral rose which stabs birds. Council President Kadish expressed concern of thistle also overcoming unused fields. Council President Kadish stated he would like to examine what was passed for sewer district expansion to see if they received the go ahead or were just exploring. Council President Kadish suggested an electronic sweep of the building to ensure it is secure. Council President Kadish stated he had heard rumblings of unethical action of board members and we should investigate. Council President Kadish expressed the desire for the return of a watershed PILOT monies placing land value equal to that which was done in West Milford. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see a well monitoring program which had been done in the past and to continue more scientific programs over the wells in town. Council President Kadish indicated he would like to see a sub-committee to update the ordinance book. Council President Kadish said he would like to see adult education programs returned to the high school for technology. Council President Kadish noted that many commissions and boards had non-staggered terms which needed to be fixed. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see the Board of Recreation filled and see a review of past applications to the planning board and permit fees. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see all jobs advertised and see the elimination of the civilian police director. Council President Kadish stated he would like to serve on the County Transportation Board as he had in the past and noted the Township has no representation on the Solid Waste Committee. Council President Kadish noted the need for County Open Space representatives. Council President Kadish stated that TARA, an organization that spays and neuters animals, was currently operating in Warwick and he would like to see them here. Council President Kadish stated he would like to see the side lines striped on Route 515, Canistear and Lake Wallkill roads.

Council Member Rizzuto indicated in regards to the issue of the review of the sewer system; he felt the whole council would benefit from a presentation at a public meeting regarding that.

Recess

At 10:53 a.m., Council President Kadish asked for a motion to take a recess.
Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor.

At 10:58 a.m., Council President Kadish asked for a motion to return from recess.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members were in favor.

Mayor Shortway stated he was planning on having a resolution for the beautification committee at the next council meeting. Mayor Shortway stated they could coordinate Scout efforts in the Township. Mayor Shortway stated the public feeds on how the council and officials treat each other. Mayor Shortway stated long term goals included meeting with Mountain Creek to look at the hotel business, getting water in town, a farmer’s market, and recreation and cultural centers like those in Steamboat Springs. Mayor Shortway stated he would also like to display student art work around town hall and have Jazz at the flats with a possible band shell to bring in culture. Mayor Shortway concurred with the idea to market town events and the need to make long term plans for emergency service vehicles and fire trucks including for McAfee fire department. Mayor Shortway stated there is a possibility if Legends builds a new hotel. Mayor Shortway noted the need for shared services and the possibility that the Animal Shelter could add a shared service with other towns. Mayor Shortway stated he would be meeting with United Water (Suez) to work on development coming to town. Mayor Shortway stated he would like to knock down the Faline building and build a pocket park. Mayor Shortway concurred with the idea to remove the fireworks and add permanent decorations. Mayor Shortway noted the need to delineate the separation of powers. Mayor Shortway noted the council’s request and concerns about 517 and Pochuck Road intersection, the chain link fence, the revaluation in 2018, ethics training for all employees, the township roof (there was $28,000 left in the ordinance from 2014), and the chicken ordinance which he noted is a wonderful activity for parents and adults. Mayor Shortway noted he has spent more than 35 hours of employee time not counting employee time on the FEMA issue trying to get funds back for the Township from Irene. Mayor Shortway noted that Clerk Kirkman and other people worked diligently to get the additional extension for the 29th of February. Mayor Shortway indicated it would not be a problem to provide a council office. Mayor Shortway agreed with the board of education building being returned to the board. Mayor Shortway noted that Open Space is under the council. Mayor Shortway discussed how gypsy moths have destroyed hundreds of acres in town and the cost is $180,000 to have the town sprayed. Mayor Shortway expressed a need to do this as dead trees cause dead roots which can cause mud slides. Mayor Shortway noted the need for permit fees to be reexamined.

Council Member Rizzuto noted that many of the gypsy moths were on trees in the State property. Council Member Rizzuto expressed a need to see if the State would be spraying their property. The Council and Mayor discussed the process of gypsy moth spraying and possibly contacting the state representatives for assistance with this issue and ensuring the State sprayed Waywayanda State Park. Attorney Ursin noted the Township’s priorities and goals were his. Council Member Ooms discussed lowering permit fees to fill empty stores. Council President Kadish noted that infrastructure was not completed for the stores at the Appalachian and questioned how certificates of occupancies were obtained for that building and the need for more pressure there. Mayor Shortway noted they are spending $400,000 to create a shop. Council President Kadish questioned if we were collecting taxes and sewer fees. Attorney Ursin indicated that both were being collected. Mayor Shortway stated this is why we need to get this built to add additional flow. Attorney Ursin noted this is currently assessed as pure vanilla space but once restaurants are built there will be higher charges. Attorney Ursin noted only improved properties pay sewer fees. Council President Kadish asked if the Township is collecting sewer fees for the old A&P. Attorney Ursin indicated it was being collected at a lower rate.

Council Member Ooms suggested less than an acre for the chicken ordinance. Council Member Rizzuto suggested not doing it. The Council discussed urban farming. Council Member Ooms noted that township had bonded for the roof in 2014 and questioned why it was not done. Council Member Rizzuto stated that because of the possibility of repurposing one of the schools so there was a wait and see attitude. Mayor Shortway stated there was only $28,000 left in the bond ordinance due to the salt shed which was $390,000. Council Member Murphy questioned the “vape store” in town. It was explained it was electronic cigarettes. The Council discussed concerns with drones in township and the violations to FAA rules. Council President Kadish stated the list of priorities should be separated and discussed and perhaps another work session would be held. Attorney Ursin noted each member was an individual legislator and each could create a document for things they wished to advance. Attorney Ursin stated any member could speak with him to craft a writing and raise issues and it could be proposed by that Council Member. Council Member Murphy noted posting the bills list online was asked. Council Member Murphy asked if when the Council received the bills list were the bills paid. Attorney Ursin indicated they were but an acknowledgement of the bills list could be done at a council meeting.

National Winter Activity Center Bond

Attorney Ursin stated that any time anyone posts a bond the Council votes to accept that bond. Attorney Ursin you ensure that it is for the correct amount and a Surety that is licensed in New Jersey. Attorney Ursin stated he suggested that the Council vote to accept it subject to the approval of the municipal attorney and municipal engineer.

It was moved to accept the bond from the National Winter Activity Center subject to the approval of the municipal attorney and municipal engineer:

Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dick Wetzel

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

Motion carried to adopt the bond for National Winter Activity Center subject to the approval of the municipal attorney and municipal engineer.

Council Member Murphy suggested sitting in on some of the Boards and Commission meetings. Council Member Rizzuto stated that he found the Land Use Board to be very professional.

It was moved to have a second public session:
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy
All members voted in favor.

Sally Rinker suggested that perhaps work sessions could be on the evenings or weekends to accommodate other people. Ms. Rinker stated she agreed with Council Member Murphy’s comments about the commissions and boards and how staff is helpful but people are being treated poorly at board meetings. Ms. Rinker stated these people represent our town and they are a public face and they need to work to be accommodating. Ms. Rinker stated some people have conflicts of interest and should be removed.

Mary Ellen Vichiconti noted the devastation of the gypsy moths last year which got worse along the Newark Watershed area. Ms. Vichiconti noted that if the trees die it will be the responsibility of the homeowners to remove them and that would be a big cost to homeowners. Council Member Kadish stated that the Watershed should be notified.

Council Member Murphy asked if the National Winter Activity Center would be hosting an open house. Mayor Shortway stated it would be on Presidents weekend.

Bob Gerry stated if one drives through town you see buildings that have been abandoned for years and questioned what could be done to make the town more presentable. Council Member Ooms questioned the old art gallery building in town and property maintenance. Council Member Murphy stated that building was recently purchased and was being addressed. Attorney Ursin noted the property maintenance ordinance was not adopted.

Council Comments

There were no comments.

Adjournment

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

The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: March 14, 2016