Minutes: January 25, 2021

YouTube video of the January 25, 2021 council meeting (executive session) »
YouTube video of the January 25, 2021 council meeting (regular meeting) »

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on January 25, 2021 via Zoom Webinar in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Harry Shortway presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 6, 2021 and on January 7, 2021 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members John Auberger, Toni Cilli, Andrew Pitsker, Kelly Weller and Council President Shortway. Also present were Mayor Howard Burrell, Business Administrator Charles Voelker and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

Salute to the Flag

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

Vice President Auberger asked for a moment of silence to Warren Baldwin. Mr. Bladwin was a former Vernon Councilman. A member of the Vernon Fire Department and many other volunteer positions for Vernon Township.

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

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

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

Item for Discussion

Open Space and Recreation Plan

Council President Shortway explained that there are two resolutions on the agenda and the Council will vote on one of the proposals. Both of the proposals have a price of $12,000.

Mayor Burrell commented that our planner, Jessica Caldwell, has done an excellent job for us with everything she has done

Administrator Charles Voelker explained in contrast to the Mayor’s opinion that Jessica is excellent and has done a lot of good work for Vernon, this is something she can do but it is not something she does all of the time. He feels that The Land Conservancy does this kind of work all of the time. Mr. Voelker is not sure if this would assist with any further grants we may need to apply for.

Council Member Pitsker feels that The Land Conservancy seems to have a bigger depth in this area of experience. He feels that we have been working with Jessica Caldwell for a number a years and there is a certain comfort level with that because she understands the town. Council Member Pitsker feels that it may be time to see what other things are out there. He would like the two professionals to present to us directly some of their ideas and thoughts before we go forward and before we make a final decision.

The Council agreed with Council Member Pitsker and would like to hear presentations from both parties at a future Council meeting.

Council Member Pitsker made a motion to have both parties make a presentation for the Council and the public. Seconded by Council Member Cilli.

All members of the Council, were in favor.

Minutes

January 1, 2021 - Reorganization Meeting
January 11, 2021 - Executive Session
January 11, 2021 - Regular Meeting

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve the above minutes.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: Cilli
Absent: None

Resolutions

Resolution #21-52: Renewal of Inactive Liquor License (T&Z Holding Co, LLC) Requiring Special Ruling in the Township of Vernon for the 2020-2021 Licensing Term

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-52

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-52.

Council Member Weller asked if their plan has been determined moving forward.

Mayor Burrell explained he contacted the partners who own the liquor license. The owners of the license would like to make Heaven Hill Farm & Garden Center more of an entertaining local experience and not just a shopping trip. In addition to their garden center and other things that are currently offered, Heaven Hill would also like to offer adult refreshments and live music from local bands. In order to implement this business plan, they needed to get certain approvals from the Land Use Board (LUB). By the time that they applied for and received these needed LUB approvals at the end of the first quarter of last year, as a part of our state’s attempts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the governor implemented strict business use restrictions.

1. T&Z Holding advised that because these strict business use restrictions are still in effect, they make it not possible for them to successfully implement their business plan related to the use of this liquor license, and they, therefore, applied to the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for what is called a “Special Ruling” allowing them to continue to be able to keep this license “In Pocket” for the next two years if needed.

2. T&Z Holding advised that they paid 250K$ for this liquor licenses, and they want to start getting some return on this purchase ASAP. They added that as soon as the COVID-19 business use restrictions are lifted to the point that they can implement their business plan related to the use of this liquor license, they will immediately do so.

3. On 12.22.20, T&Z Holding received the requested Special Ruling from the ABC to maintain this liquor license “In Pocket”; they now need approval from Vernon Township, the municipality in which the liquor license is granted.

4. If we refuse to approve T&Z Holding’s request, they can appeal the town’s refusal to the NJ Attorney General’s Office. In the current COVID-19 influenced legal environment where large numbers of cases of all kinds are delayed, these kinds of cases are not a top priority item for the Attorney General’s Office; and, our refusal to approve T&Z Holding’s request all but assures that they will indirectly get their desire to keep this liquor license “In Pocket” for the next two years, because the Attorney General’s Office is not at all likely to get around to ruling on this matter before the governor resends his COVID-19 business service restrictions.

5. From my perspective, I see no benefit to the town for not approving this request. On the other hand, not approving it will only give our town a “black eye” with a long time, on time taxpaying business in our town.

Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain: Auberger
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-52.

Resolution #21-52: Renewal of Inactive Liquor License (T&Z Holding Co, LLC) Requiring Special Ruling in the Township of Vernon for the 2020-2021 Licensing Term

WHEREAS, all licenses to dispense alcoholic beverages must be renewed and reissued annually; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.39 the following license required a Special Ruling by the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages, as the license is currently inactive, prior to its renewal; and

WHEREAS, the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages, on December 4, 2020, had issued said special ruling for the 2018-19 license terms; and

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

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

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the following inactive license shall be reissued for the 2020-2021 licensing period retroactive to July 1, 2020.

PLENARY RETAIL CONSUMPTION

T&Z Holdings CO. LLC. 1922-33-004-007

Resolution #21-57: Resolution Authorizing the Township of Vernon to Enter into a Cooperative Pricing Agreement with the Bergen County Cooperative Pricing System

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-57

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-57.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain: Cilli
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-57.

Resolution #21-57: Resolution Authorizing the Township of Vernon to Enter into a Cooperative Pricing Agreement with the Bergen County Cooperative Pricing System

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11(5) authorizes contracting units to establish a Cooperative Pricing System and to enter into Cooperative Pricing Agreements for its administration; and

WHEREAS, the Bergen County Cooperative Pricing System, hereinafter referred to as the “Lead Agency” has offered voluntary participation in the New Jersey Cooperative Purchasing Alliance # CK04 - a Cooperative Pricing System - for the purchase of goods and services; and

WHEREAS, on January 25, 2021 the governing body of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey duly considered participation in a Cooperative Pricing System for the provision and performance of goods and services.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED as follows:

TITLE
This RESOLUTION shall be known and may be cited as the Cooperative Pricing Resolution of the Township of Vernon.

AUTHORITY
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11(5), the Township Administrator is hereby authorized to enter into a Cooperative Pricing Agreement with the Lead Agency.

CONTRACTING UNIT
The Lead Agency shall be responsible for complying with the provisions of the Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.) and all other provisions of the revised statutes of the State of New Jersey.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately.

Resolution #21-58 Resolution of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Granting Authority for Approval of Certain Purchases in Excess of the Bid Threshold through New Jersey State Contracts and/or Purchasing Cooperatives for 2021

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-58

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-58.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve resolution #21-58

Resolution #21-58 Resolution of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Granting Authority for Approval of Certain Purchases in Excess of the Bid Threshold through New Jersey State Contracts and/or Purchasing Cooperatives for 2021

WHEREAS, a need exists for the acquisition of various goods and services contained within cooperative contracts and over the bid threshold as aggregation of commodities, for the daily operations of the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon may, without advertising for bids, purchase such materials through the New Jersey State Purchase and Property State Contracts and other approved Regional Cooperative Purchasing Systems of which the Township of Vernon is a member, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-12, and N.J.A.C. 5:34-7.29 et. Seq., and

WHEREAS, under the state cooperative contract, or designated regional cooperative contract award, the following vendors hold valid cooperative contracts in accord with the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law.

VendorContract #T-NumberTitleTerm Expiration
MORTON SALTSussex County ROAD SALT/ GRITS6/30/2021
NORTH CHURCH GRAVELSussex County ROAD SALT/ GRITS6/30/2021
DENVILLE LINE PAINTINGMCCPC #36 LINE STRIPING12/31/2021
TILCONMCCPC #5 PAVING MATERIAL12/31/2021
SCHIFANO CONSTRUCTION CORPMCCPC #6 ROADWAY PAVING12/31/2021

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

1. The Qualified Purchasing Agent (QPA) upon receipt of an identified need and direction from the Township is hereby authorized to approve purchases in the aggregate over the bid threshold from the list of approved cooperative contract, through New Jersey State Contracts and/or Purchasing Cooperatives to which the Township of Vernon is a member without further action from Council, provided that funds are available to cover the expenditure.

Resolution #21-59: Resolution Awarding Bid for Proposed Improvements to Breakneck Road Phase II—Raised Pavement Markers

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-59

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-59.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-59.

Resolution #21-59: Resolution Awarding Bid for Proposed Improvements to Breakneck Road Phase II—Raised Pavement Markers

WHEREAS, there is a need for Improvements to Breakneck Road Phase II - Raised Pavement Markers in the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.) encourages the use of public bidding to benefit taxpayers by ensuring that projects are completed in a safe, timely and cost-effective manner; and

WHEREAS, the Township duly advertised for public bids in a fair and open manner, consistent with N.J.S.A.19:44A-20.4 et. Seq., and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon received four (4) bids for said purpose duly advertised and held a public bid opening on December 10, 2020 at 10:00 am.; and

WHEREAS, the Township Council has reviewed the recommendations of the appropriate Township Officials in connection with the proposals that were submitted; and

WHEREAS, Zone Striping, Inc. P.O. Box 568, Glassboro, NJ 08028, has provided the lowest bid deemed responsive and responsible to the specifications and legal requirements as provided for within the bid document in the amount of $8,984.60; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent has concurred with the legality of the purchase in accord with the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq.); and

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer hereby certifies that funds not to exceed $8,984.60 are available as follows; Line Item: C-04-20-011-01.

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

1. The contract Breakneck Road Phase II - Raised Pavement Markers is hereby awarded to Zone Striping, Inc. P.O. Box 568, Glassboro, NJ 08028.

2. The Mayor and Township Clerk are hereby authorized and directed to execute a contract with Zone Striping, Inc. P.O. Box 568, Glassboro, NJ 08028, not to exceed $8,984.60 in accord with the tenets of contract found within Bid.

Resolution #21-60: Public Notice of Assignment of Municipal Tax Sale Certificates

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-60

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-60.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-60.

Resolution #21-60: Public Notice of Assignment of Municipal Tax Sale Certificates

Notice is hereby given that the Township of Vernon in the County of Sussex, has set January 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm as the date, time and place to consider the offer of RRRRose Realty, LLC to acquire by assignment, the following Tax Sale Certificates, held by the Township of Vernon as:

BLOCKFKALOTFKAAMOUNT OWEDOWNER ON CERT.
16074.065123$37,014.68MOORING TAX ASSET GROUP LLC C/O GRM

Said offer represents the amount due with subsequent liens. The owner of said property and all interested parties will be given the opportunity to be heard prior to taking action by the Township Council.

This notice is given pursuant to the provision of NJSA 54:5-113 et seq.

Lisa A. Kimkowski
Tax Collector

Resolution #21-61: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles for the Police Department through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4881282- 1 x Color Infinite Blue Metallic)

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-61

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-61.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-61.

Resolution #21-61: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles for the Police Department through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4881282- 1 x Color Infinite Blue Metallic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEREAS, the quoted cost under the Sourcewell National contract $34,366.08 (Quote No. 4881282); and

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

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

Resolution #21-62: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles for the Police Department through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4881287- 2 x Color Oxford White, 1 x Color Black)

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-62

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-62.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Toni Cilli

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Weller, Pitsker, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-62.

Resolution #21-62: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles for the Police Department through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4881287- 2 x Color Oxford White, 1 x Color Black)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEREAS, the quoted cost under the Sourcewell National contract $102,147.84 (Quote No. 4881287); and

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

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

Resolution #21-63: Resolution Authorizing an Agreement with J. Caldwell & Associates, LLC’s Proposal for an Open Space and Recreation Plan Update

Resolution #21-64: Resolution Authorizing an Agreement with The Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s Proposal for an Open Space and Recreation Plan Update

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to postpone resolutions #21-63 and #21-64 based on the earlier discussion.

Council Member Pitsker made a motion to postpone resolutions #21-63 and #21-64 based on the earlier discussion. Seconded by Council Member Auberger.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to postpone Resolutions #21-63 and #21-64.

Resolution #21-65: Resolution Authorizing Settlement of Tax Appeal Litigation

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-65.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-65.

Resolution #21-65: Resolution Authorizing Settlement of Tax Appeal Litigation

WHEREAS, tax appeals were filed in the Tax Court of New Jersey contesting the tax assessments on various properties located within the Township of Vernon (“Township”) for the 2016 through 2020 tax years as described in Schedule A attached hereto; and

WHEREAS, the parties have engaged in global settlement negotiations; and

WHEREAS, as a result of said negotiations, a global settlement has been reached wherein the parties have agreed that the plaintiffs shall withdraw their tax appeals for the 2016 through 2019 tax years, and the assessments shall be reduced for the 2020 and 2021 tax years; and

WHEREAS, final settlement is subject to governing body approval, and subject to the parties entering into a mutually agreeable Stipulation of Settlement memorializing the terms of agreement which shall be filed with the Tax Court of New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, any reductions of tax amounts previously paid as a result of this settlement shall be returned to the plaintiffs in the form of a 50% refund and 50% credit to be applied against the taxpayers’ future tax liabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Tax Assessor, Tax Counsel and the Township’s appraisal expert have recommended the terms of this settlement to the Mayor and Township Council; and

WHEREAS, the Township Council, having conferred, is of the opinion that this settlement is being made in the best interest of the Township.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, that the global settlement of these matters as set forth hereinabove be and is approved and Special Tax Counsel is hereby authorized and directed to effect said settlement.

Resolution #21-66: Transfer Resolution—Balance Transfers for Historic Preservation Secretary Salary Expense from 2020 Expenditures

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-66

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-66.
Moved: Toni Cilli
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-66.

Resolution #21-66: Transfer Resolution—Balance Transfers for Historic Preservation Secretary Salary Expense from 2020 Expenditures

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon Municipal Budget requires certain modifications to cover potential expenses that may occur in excess of the original budget;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the following Transfer of Appropriation Reserves (2020 Municipal Budget) in accordance with N.J.S.A 40A-58/59 are hereby approved.

ACCOUNTTRANSFER OUTTRANSFER IN
FROM CURRENT FUND:
ADMINISTRATION - S&W75.00 
   
TO CURRENT FUND:
HISTORIC PRESERVATION - S&W $75.00
   
TOTAL TRANSFERS$75.00$75.00

Resolution #21-67: Approving Active Volunteer Firefighter for Membership in the New Jersey State Fireman’s Association (Hirsch)

Council President Shortway read the title of resolution #21-67

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolution #21-67.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: Toni Cilli

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #21-67.

Resolution #21-67: Approving Active Volunteer Firefighter for Membership in the New Jersey State Fireman’s Association (Hirsch)

WHEREAS, the Township Council recognizes the extraordinary contributions made by volunteer firefighters to our community and seeks to encourage their full participation in professional organizations; and

WHEREAS, Katherine G. Hirsch an active firefighter and member of the Pochuck Volunteer Fire Department, is requesting approval to submit an application for membership to the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, New Jersey hereby approves Katherine G. Hirsch for membership in the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Ordinance #21-01: Ordinance Approving Redevelopment Plan—525 Route 515, Block 413 Lot 10

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #21-01.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain: Auberger
Absent:
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #21-01.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #21-02: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 130 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Vacant and Abandoned Property Registration Fees

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #21-02.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #21-02.

Council Member Cilli expressed concern for the people who live next door to some of these houses. She asked why we are lowering the fee instead of asking people to clean up these properties and do what they are supposed to do and having the people who live next door to them have to deal with this?

Administrator Voelker explained that the fourth year of $5000 would not serve the purpose the fee was intended. The fee is to spur people to move forward with their projects and get them out of the vacant stage. We are capping the fee at $3000 because we felt $5000 is cost prohibitive. Mr. Voelker explained a lot of the homes were bank owned and after being purchased gives the new owners some relief and time to fix the home to not being vacant.

Council Member Auberger explained that this fee has nothing to do with maintenance. This is a fee because the property is vacant.

Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Sean Clarkin - Vernon Township, explained that it was stated that the vacant land ordinance is to motivate banks and to have the banks get the property sold. He has seen cases where private citizens have purchased these properties and are renovating them and they are getting hit with these fees. He feels that when the property is purchased by a citizen there should be a way to check on progress of the renovations in the last twelve months.

Sean Mazar - Vernon Township, typed a question on chat asking how does Vernon vacant and abandoned property ordinance comply with the NJ bill from which is was created?

Township Attorney Josh Zielinski explained that we have had numerous people allege or threaten that they were going to file lawsuits with respect to the vacant or abandoned homes and no lawsuits have been filed to date and to date the ordinance is valid.

Seeing no else wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #21-02

Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #21-02.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #21-02.

Ordinance #21-03: Capital Ordinance Providing for Various Improvements by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, Appropriating Therefore the Sum of $300,000.00 and Providing that Such Sum So Appropriated Shall Be Raised from the Capital Improvement Fund of the Township

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #21-03.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #21-03.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #21-03.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #21-03.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #21-03.

Ordinance #21-04: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing the Municipal Code to Abolish the Historic Preservation Commission

Council President Shortway read the title of Ordinance #21-04.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #21-04
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Sean Clarkin - Vernon Township, asked if Vernon was abolishing the funds they give to the Historical Society or are they abolishing the Historical Society itself?

Mayor Burrell explained that we are abolishing the authorization of a Historical Preservation Commission, the funds and the commission itself.

Mr. Clarkin asked how can you stop the citizens of Vernon from forming an association? Mr. Clarkin was looking to see if they can do fund raisers to raise the funds that are being taken away from the association.

Council President Shortway explained it is not an association it is a commission. He said there is a non-profit Historical Society in town.

Sean Mazar - Vernon Township, typed on chat this is a sad day for all of Vernon to abolish the HPC because you do not like what Jessi Paladini has to say. What about CLG staus?

Council President Shortway said there is no CLG status.

Seeing no else wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #21-04.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #21-04.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Cilli, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #21-04.

Public Comments (Limited to 3 Minutes On Any Topic)

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Sean Clarkin - Vernon Township, commented on Josh Zielinski’s remark regarding no citizen sued the town about the issue he was speaking about and therefore the town was going to continue with this practice. Mr. Clarkin questioned carrying out this practice because no one was suing the town.

Council President Shortway said he was not going to comment because Mr. Mazar has threatened to sue the town in the past.

Mr. Zielinski instructed the Council not to discuss any pending or threatened litigation or any conversations we’ve had with respect to any pending or threatened litigation.

Sean Clarkin emailed comments

Good evening members of the Vernon Town Council

This is the second Town Council Meeting in a row this email is being read to you aloud. And just like the last time it will be emailed to each of you as well.

For the record the first time this was read and emailed it received no response from anyone on the Town Council.

Looking at the methods being used to alert the citizens of Vernon Township about the meetings and workings of our governing body, it appears that the methods are in need of updating. These methods may have worked very well in the 1960s and 1980s but today’s date is January 2021 and there are far more effective ways of communicating with the citizens of Vernon Township than those currently being used.

I understand that the current methods may meet the current minimum requirements of the State of New Jersey, but as our local town elected officials I encourage you to employ modern technology for informing the citizens of our community about your work and scheduled activities.

In fact, I would encourage the members of the Town Council to take to the internet and post their views about the subjects at hand. I know that hearing their voices, hear their positions and understanding the thought process of our elected officials would be wonderful in assisting us, the voting public, in deciding whether or not to re-elect them when their terms are up.

Modern technology allows for transparency and the best form of government is one that informs and cares for its citizens’ concerns.

This is being added to the email being sent on 1-25-2021.

Every Citizen in Vernon needs to ask the following question:

Why wouldn’t our elected officials want to advertise the Date, Time and Agenda of the Town Council Meetings to the citizens of the community?

Council Member Pitsker responded saying he did respond and Mr. Clarkin is welcome to have direct dialogue with him anytime he wants.

Thomas McClachrie - Vernon Township, commented on Ordinance 21-01 saying since it is in a redevelopment zone they are going to be paying pilots. Mr. McClachrie asked how much the tax payers are going to be paying for school taxes for this?

Martin O’Donnell - Vernon Township, said sometimes in local government you have to make difficult decisions and sometimes there seems to be no support for those decisions. He wanted the Council to know that although the loud majority seems to speak a lot, the silent majority supports what you do. He thanked the Council for making the tough decisions.

Jessica Paladini - Vernon Township, I do not comment tonight to oppose your abolishing of the Historic Preservation Commission. Vernon government is not concerned about history and does not deserve the wonderful HPC it had in 2020.

I come forward only to put on the record that the action you took tonight will be your legacy of disgrace.

When you tried to extort me to resign but it did not work because I had done nothing wrong, you then threatened to defund the commission or abolish it altogether. That, in my opinion, Is racketeering. Where was the due process? There was none. Other than three or four usual and expected suspects who might have brought forth false witness and testimony to slander and defame me, this was a classic frame job. Bring forth these accusers. Let them name specific situations. You can’t because there were none. Only lies from haters who know only to hate.

The mayor has defamed and libeled me repeatedly in email to multiple people. The recipients of these emails have told me about it-including one woman who contacted me whom I don’t even know and never heard of. That’s what decent, honest people do about government injustice. They expose it. I am the one being harassed, and the mayor and council are the ones harassing me, a volunteer, with their false accusations.

When I put in an OPRA request for the mayor’s emails, the mayor and the clerk lied and said there were no records. That is a violation of OPRA. Today I filed an OPRA complaint because OPRA is the law. Mayor Burrell, you are not above the law.

So go ahead and abolish the Historic Preservation Commission on your fake accusations and nameless and faceless accusers, but many people are watching what you are doing, and this will be your legacy, just as abolishing the Environmental Commission was Mr. Shortway’s legacy. Just as forcing an elected councilman to resign was his legacy. Just as trying to defame and abolish the MUA with false accusations, forcing good members to resign was his legacy. And just as defaming an entire building department is now his legacy.

You can lie about me, slander me, falsely accuse me, defame me, and libel me, Mayor Burrell, but the good people of Vernon see exactly what’s going on. You have sacrificed what many thought were your good reputation and integrity for lies. Yes, mayor, I will rise. Will you rise from this deceitful act

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

Mayor’s Comments

Members of the Council, at the January 1 Reorganization Meeting, I stated that I would be making some committee appointments at a later date. And on tonight, I will be making five appointments to the Greenway Action Advisory Committee.

The Greenway Action Advisory Committee is a special ad hoc committee that was formed in 2016 for the purpose of advising the Mayor on matters related to sustainability, passive recreation, and general economics within the town.

My first appointment to this committee is the appointment of an individual who I have grown to greatly respect over the past year plus. That individual is Ms. Jacqueline Haley. Ms. Haley’s PhD in Economic Development, plus her years of consulting service to organizations pursuing community development, neighborhood planning, and affordable housing development, will be a significant asset to this committee’s focus on sustainable economic development.

My next appointment is the reappointment of Mr. Michael Furrey. When this committee’s focus is on the issue of the sustainability of one of our most valuable resources, water, I have no doubt that Mr. Furrey’s vast experiences as a highly regarded DEP water treatment consultant; as the Chair of the New Jersey Section of the American Water Works Association; and as a member of the Sussex County Wastewater Management Advisory Committee will all be great assets to this committee and our town.

My third appointment is Ms. Toni Cilli. Before Ms. Cilli took a break from being a very active volunteer in our town, she served as a valuable, contributing member of this committee. She has developed the reputation of being an individual who gets things done. Her planning and organizing skills, that I suspect were learned from her years as a Supply Planner and the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Sales at the Medical Technology Company, Becton Dickison, were on clear display as one of the planners and organizers of our town’s very successful Municipal Farmers’ Market. I have no doubt that she will be a positive forward moving force for our town on this committee.

Next, I have asked Council President Shortway to serve as the Mayor’s Designee on this committee. With his previous experience as our town’s mayor, he has first-hand knowledge of just how important it is for the Mayor to get objective, timely advice on matters related to sustainability, passive recreation, and general economics within the town.

My final appointment is also a reappointment - - that of Mr. Craig Williams. Not only have I asked him to serve on this committee, I have also asked him to Chair this committee. Mr. Williams has an outstanding record of civic service, not only in our town, but also in our county. The leadership skills that he has demonstrated during his service on our town’s Environmental Commission, Board of Education, Land Use Board and Open Space Committee, plus his service on the County Open Space Committee, all make him the ideal individual to chair this important committee, and play this important role for our town.

I thank them all in advance for their willingness to serve our town.

Members of the Council, we have been honored with a privilege, given to us by the people of Vernon Township, to play key leadership roles in their government. And with that honor and privilege comes the responsibility to make either one of two choices - - and those choices are to either:

1. Accept the negative conditions that we face, as they exist; or ...

2. Accept the responsibility for changing them.

In your passage tonight of Ordnance # 21-04, we have joined together in choosing to accept the responsibility for changing a negative condition that existed within our town’s government.

We have demonstrated to those who count on us, that we have the political will, the courage and leadership to do what is needed to implement a principle that we all strongly agree on.

And that’s the principle which says, that each and every one of our citizens have the right, granted to them under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to say what they want to say - - even if that means harshly attacking municipal employees and volunteers, and anyone else that dares to disagree with them on a given issue; even if that means applying the irresponsible use their Facebook platforms to engage in the dark, and sometimes deadly art, of cyber bullying.

However, because we believe that with every right comes a responsibility, through our actions tonight, we have also said, that while such individuals are free to behave in this mean spirited, cruel, and civically unhealthy manner, we, the governmental representatives of the people of Vernon Township, have the responsibility to ensure that such individuals will not be permitted to do so as long as they serve as sworn, oath taking representatives of Vernon Township’s government.

I wish that I could assure you, and the members of the public, that these individuals will maliciously change their negative attitude and behavior; but unfortunately I can’t.

Psychiatrists, psychologist, and others who study human behavior tell us that the best predictor of an individual’s future performance, is their past behavior.

In addition, over the past several years, we have come to learn that those who live most of their lives on Facebook, and especially those who practice the mean art of cyber bulling, seems to be addicted to this type of behavior.

However, now that we have done what the great majority of Vernon residents have repeatedly and strongly encouraged us to do - -

Now that we have demonstrated to our cherished and valuable volunteers - - who volunteer their time away from their families and their jobs; who volunteer their ideas; their energy; and efforts; all for the purpose of making Vernon Township a better place to live and raise a family - - now that we have demonstrated to them that the term VERNON CARES applies to them also - -

Now that we have done what we know is the right thing, let us now move on to responding to those citizens who have said to us, that they would like to be a part of a commission or committee which would allow them to acknowledge, to recognize, to document, to teach, and to preserve our town’s history, without this commission or committee being tainted by what they have described to us as “the out of control,” “the ego and vengeance motivated” actions of any one individual.

Let us move on to creating such a commission or committee.

I would be very much open to the creation of a commission or committee whereby annual appointments would be made by either the Council or the Mayor, or jointly by the Council and the Mayor.

Within the next month or so, let’s provide these willing volunteers the opportunities to serve our town on a commission or committee that’s free of the civically negative influence that they have said that they, understandably, want to avoid.

Let us now put this civically unhealthy episode behind us, and keep working together to Move Vernon Forward!

Council Comments

Council Vice President Auberger praises the Council for moving forward with quite a few subjects. He has had many people approach since it came out that Circle K was trying to go in where D&S Mall is. Some are saying we do not need another gas station other people are saying it is another business that will hopefully grow the center of town, sewer allotment and taxes. This is a business that is investing in our township and he feels we should be helping them and any other business that’s here to expand and do whatever they want to do. Council Member Auberger would like to see the Council keep working toward that. We cannot control the County tax or the school tax we have to do what we can do for the town. Council Member Auberger gave his heartfelt sympathy for the Baldwin Family on their loss. There is an example in Warren who served on the Council, Fire Department and many volunteer functions and it is a tremendous loss to the community.

Kelly Weller echoed Council Member Auberger’s sentiments. She feels the Council has made some difficult but good decisions in the past few weeks we have been together. She is excited about what the future will bring for this Council. In regards to Circle K she agrees with Council Member Auberger. You have to make some difficult decisions and start somewhere and this is our opportunity to bring some business into the town. They want to invest in the community and that will bring other opportunities. Council Member Weller said prayers to the Baldwin Family for their loss.

Council Member Pitsker feels that if we utilize good common sense, good business practices and respect each other’s viewpoints, which we do we build solutions together. It takes communication, collaboration and cooperation to move Vernon forward and that is what we are starting to do. There will need to be more work from all of us. We need to be good learners and good listeners. Let’s work together. Council Member Pitsker said the Mayor’s comments were greatly appreciated. He gave his condolences to the Baldwin Family and said everyone mask up, take care of yourself and let’s get through this Covid together.

Council Member Cilli thanked everyone again. She said she has a lot of questions and thank you for answering them. She agrees with the Council, especially Council Member Auberger, that it is important to be business friendly and it is a start moving us forward. Council Member Cilli thanked Mayor Burrell for sticking up for Vernon and the volunteers of Vernon.

Council President Comments

Council President Shortway commented that Vernon in the last couple weeks sustained two deaths that he knows of related to our government. Very sadly a former Mayor Rinker lost her son and now we see the passing of former Councilman Baldwin. He speaks for the Council and Administration and gives heartfelt sympathy to these two families for such losses.

Council President Shortway commented about Mr. Mike Vintzileous who spoke at the last meeting about opioid addiction. He was brave enough to come on and say how he fought it and he speaks publically about it. Mr. Vintzileous asked the question about supporting a medical marijuana facility. Council President Shortway commented that as a retired police officer we specialized in investigations associated with the illegal is and distribution of controlled dangerous substances. He witnessed the tragedy of opioid addiction. Also for the past several years Council President Shortway has undergone several orthopedic and cancer related surgeries. Opioids were prescribed for pain, although he trusted his physicians he often stopped taking the pain killers before his prescriptions were completed for fear of opioid addiction. He would rather suffer physical pain than addiction. So if medical marijuana is an alternate to an opioid for treatment of a disease, pain management or PTSD, then he supports medical marijuana facilities in Vernon. Council President Shortway prays for Mr. Vintzileous and wishes him the best going forward to beat this addiction and help others.

Adjournment

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

The Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: February 8, 2021