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

Minutes: July 10, 2017

The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:30 p.m. on Monday July 10, 2017 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 has been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2017 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel and Council President Jean Murphy. Also present were CFO Elke Yetter, Administrator Charles Voelker, Township Attorney Marlin Townes.

Salute to the Flag

Council President Murphy led the assemblage to the salute to the flag.

Public Comments

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members voted in favor.

Arthur Alveri, Vernon, questioned if the Township bonds for the cost of the replacement of Pump Station II, will all residents have to pay for it or just the ones using the sewer system. Mr. Alveri stated his house is located nowhere near the system and further asked if he can purchase one of the unused Township fire hydrants. Council President Murphy explained that no decision has been made to bond for the expense of Pump Station II and noted that Vernon will need to bond for water in Town Center for hydrants.

Greg Kurziel, Sussex, Vice President of Vernon Youth Football, explained the league runs a fundraiser by setting up a tent selling food to raise money for needed sports equipment but would like to have food trailer which is better equipped and closer to the field. Mr. Kurziel discussed the state requirements and Vernon’s code prohibiting food trailers. Mr. Kurziel requested the Council adopt a revised ordinance to allow non-profit Vernon sports groups to use a food trailer during their respective season at Township parks only on game days. He addrf that the trailer will include appliances needed and required fire suppression and will meet necessary health requirements. Council President Murphy suggested he speak to Mr. Voelker and Ms. Downtain, from Recreation about all the details and they will report back to Council if an Ordinance needs to be introduced. Council Member Rizzuto stated he felt the idea is good but would like to hear what administration reports. Council Member Ooms questioned if all sports will have opportunity will be included in this ordinance. Mr. Kurziel says the requested revised ordinance will include all Vernon youth organizations.

Christa Geary, stated she recently heard comments about the lack of civility at Town Council meetings which is not new but been going on for many administrations. While they have all faced many challenges she opined it would be improved if members would stop their pettiness and respectfully listen and be tolerant of others opinions. Ms. Geary added we must forget the past and remember majority rules in the democratic process and be thankful for the freedoms we have.

Sally Rinker, stated, per the book by Rutgers named Power & Duties of Municipal Body, the role of the elected Governing Body is make policy decisions and all actions of concern to a community. She added the council acts as a majority vote and can direct the Mayor through policy of an activity of concern for the community.

Ms. Rinker objected that comments she made or found relevant were not included in the Council minutes of the meetings. Ms. Rinker recognized that minutes were not verbatim transcripts. Ms. Rinker cautioned the council to be more diligent in the future.

Tom McClachrie, commented that the contracted company for the revaluation was the same used in 2008 and opined due to the assessed valuation figures, they cost the residents over $100,000 in legal fees for appeals. He stated that he thought the Township had three ways to adjust the tax rate: by sections town wide, reduce everyone by set ratio or done individually and feels council should reevaluate company.

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members voted in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway was not present and there was no report presented.

Council Member Ooms questioned Mr. Voelker what the outcome of the appraisal for the Faline Building was which Mr. Voelker explained the appraisal was done on “As Is” condition. Ms. Ooms added she would like the Council to receive the meeting minutes and reports of all money spent by Township Boards & Committees. Council Member Ooms requested follow up information on the resident complaint about the Canistear Road speed limit issue. Mr. Voelker stated Mayor Shortway spoke to Chief Mills and enforcement would be increased in the area. Council Member Kadish added that two of the committees are ad-hoc and not required to maintain minutes but agrees if they have a budget they should have minutes.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Regular and Executive Session Minutes of June 12, 2017.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: Sandra Ooms
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve the Regular and Executive Session Minutes of June 12, 2017.

Items for Discussion

Ambulance Squad

Mr. Voelker explained last year the ambulance squads, an important concern for the community as the only source of medical assistance, came to the Administration Office with their difficulty of maintaining volunteers. He added the squads have performed exemplary service before running into this issue. After meeting with both squads, a decision to contract with paid services with Prime Health Care from St. Clare’s to cover up to 4 daytime shifts weekly. Mr. Voelker further explained the Township explored total paid ambulance service in the future and with help from Fire Marshal Tosto researched other communities for information. With the assistance of the volunteers serving on an executive board, an ordinance was drafted and is currently under attorney review. Mr. Voelker added the Township wants to move forward with a paid service and notes St. Clare’s will continue until the part-time personnel, working maximum 20 hours per week can be found.

Council President Murphy questioned if current volunteers can work as the paid personnel. Mr. Voelker explained they cannot do both at same time and there must be a separation in time of one year going from volunteer to paid per State Statute and case law. He added the paid service would not preclude the volunteer squads to supplement if they have the crews as response time to patients is the most important concern. Council Member Ooms commented if patients pay by soft billing during the day to the paid service and there is no cost at night to our volunteers, then how do patients pay the co-pay? Mr. Voelker explained the patient will be billed to the insurance company during the daytime, no out of pocket expenses are incurred.

Council Member Rizzuto questioned where will the ambulances be stored. Mr. Voelker explained the storage of the ambulances is not yet finalized. Council Member Kadish asked if the cost of Township liability insurance will increase or decrease. Mr. Voelker commented the insurance rate should be the same and $80,000.00 in funds have been added to the 2017 budget as there will be a lapse until medical billing is paid. Mr. Tosto added the standard rates for an ambulance is $890.00 plus $9.00 per mile and depending on patient care, paramedics make the determination on which hospital to go to. Council Member Ooms questioned what happens if the insurance company denies the claim. Mr. Voelker explained insurance companies typically don’t deny coverage on emergency patient transportation.

Council Member Rizzuto asked if number of volunteers increase, can you reduce paid coverage. Mr. Voelker commented based on the outcome of the meetings with the squad members that there is too much pressure to provide the excellent level of service as before. Council Member Ooms asked if St. Clare’s is working well why does Vernon need to change. Mr. Voelker explains there any benefits to having a paid service as percentage of paid service funds will be provided to the township to replenish much needed equipment for the ambulance squad. Mr. Voelker noted it would benefit the tax payers if first aid equipment and ambulances can be fund from the paid service rather than through taxes. Mr. Voelker stated further questions by council can be forwarded to him and he will provide the proposed ordinance to council for their review.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #17-141 through #17-143.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #17-141 through #17-143.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolutions #17-141 thru #17-143.

Resolution #17-141: Resolution Authorizing Fireworks to Be Displayed on September 3, 2017 within the Township of Vernon

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A.21:3-1et seq. Explosive and Fireworks, provides that a Municipal Governing Body must authorize the display of fireworks within its boundaries as a pre-condition to such display in accordance with the New Jersey Fire Prevention Code; and

WHEREAS, Mountain Creek Resort has submitted an application to Vernon Township to conduct a fireworks display on September 4, 2017; and

WHEREAS, the proposed fireworks display will take place at 200 Route 94 behind the Red Tail Lodge; and

WHEREAS, Mountain Creek Resort has engaged in a contract with Garden State Fireworks, Millington, NJ, to perform the public fireworks and special effects display and has provided the required certificate of liability insurance to the Township.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, hereby authorizes the fireworks display, performed by Garden State Fireworks Inc. on September 3, 2017, at Mountain Creek Resort located at 200 Route 94, Vernon, NJ upon satisfaction of all statutory and departmental requirements.

Resolution #17-142: Resolution Authorizing Fireworks to Be Displayed on August 6, 2017 with Rain Date of August 13, 2017 within the Township of Vernon

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A.21:3-1et seq. Explosive and Fireworks, provides that a Municipal Governing Body must authorize the display of fireworks within its boundaries as a pre-condition to such display in accordance with the New Jersey Fire Prevention Code; and

WHEREAS, Highland Lakes Country Club and Community Association has submitted an application to Vernon Township to conduct a fireworks display on Sunday August 6, 2017 with a rain date of Sunday August 13, 2017; and

WHEREAS, the proposed fireworks display will take place on Lakeside Drive East on the dam of Highland Lake; and

WHEREAS, the Association has engaged in a contract with Garden State Fireworks, Inc., to perform the public fireworks and special effects display and has provided the required certificate of liability insurance.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, hereby authorizes the fireworks display with special effects, performed by Garden State Fireworks, Inc. and sponsored by the Highland Lakes Country Club and Community Association on August 6, 2017 with a rain date of August 13, 2017 upon satisfaction of all statutory and departmental requirements.

Resolution #17-143: Resolution Authorizing the Application to Participate in the Electronic Tax Sale Program

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A 54:5-19.1 authorizes electronic tax sales pursuant to rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Director of the Division of Government Services, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has promulgated rules and regulations for pilot programs, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has approved NJ Tax Lien Investors/RealAuction.com to conduct pilot programs, and

WHEREAS, the rules and regulations authorize a municipality to submit an application for participation in the pilot program for an electronic tax sale, and

WHEREAS, an electronic tax sale is innovative and provides a greater pool of potential lien buyers, thus creating the environment for a more complete tax sale process, and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon wishes to participate in the pilot program for an electronic tax sale.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the governing body of the Township of Vernon, New Jersey, that the Tax Collector is hereby authorized to complete an application to participate in the electronic tax sale program and submit same to the Director of the Division of Local Government Services.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Council President Murphy read Ordinance 17-12 by title only.

Ordinance #17-12: An Ordinance Authorizing a Special Emergency Appropriation of $1,000,000 for the Revaluation of Real Property by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #17-12 with public hearing on July 24, 2017.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to Introduce Ordinance #17-12 with public hearing on July 24, 2017.

Ordinance 17-13

Council President Murphy read Ordinance 17-13 by title only.

Ordinance #17-13: An Ordinance Authorizing the Conveyance of Block 120, Lot 19.03 to the County of Sussex

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #17-13 with public hearing on July 24, 2017.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to Introduce Ordinance #17-13 with public hearing on July 24, 2017.

Mr. Voelker asked Council if they would like a member from Sussex County present at the next meeting to answer any questions about Ordinance #17-13 and the Council indicated that would not be necessary.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Council President Murphy read Ordinance 17-10 by title only.

Ordinance #17-10: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending Chapter 148 and Chapter 250 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Potentially Dangerous Dogs

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the public hearing for Ordinance #17-10.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members voted in favor.

Michele Vanderploeg, questioned Council how is a dog determined to be dangerous. Council President Murphy explained the Court process deems a dog dangerous. Attorney Townes further explains the process to establish a dog is dangerous or vicious comes from an incident which goes to court and the Judge deems the outcome. Council Member Kadish questioned if the ordinance can further specify if attack from dog is against person or dog. Attorney Townes added that after the judicial proceeding, the dog is deemed dangerous of vicious then the license fee is imposed. Council Member Rizzuto opined it is difficult to place same level of penalty for incident involving dog vs. dog and dog vs. person and warns of overzealous owner pressing charges and feels the $700/ year fee is way out of line.

Council Member Ooms questioned why the Township chose $700.00 as the license fee and asked whether we are trying to penalize the owner and encouraging them to euthanize the dog instead. She recommended the fee be lower and any money received be used for future litigation or education for dog owners.

Tom McClachrie, commented the difference in fee of regular license of $14.00 and fee for dangerous dog of $700.00 and asked where the logic is because it does not make neighbors any safer. He added the Judge who deems the dog dangerous will also set requirements such as fence enclosure, muzzle, leash, signage, and repeats it must be about safety not about the money. Mr. McClachrie explained that imposing the high fee is punitive damage and similar to the issues with the MUA fees, it is driving people away.

Brian Lynch, understands the Judge has the authority to make the decision about the dog but commented if the Council has more concerns or questions then they need to relook at the ordinance before it is brought up for a vote.

John Stevens, questioned who makes up the list of dangerous dogs. Council Member Rizzuto explains there is no list and only a judge can decide to deem a dog dangerous. Attorney Townes stated a dog is designated based on an incident that occurred and the judicial process decides.

Council Member Ooms asked how was the fee of $700.00 determined. Mr. Voelker explained it is the Council’s decision. Council Member Kadish added he suggests having different fines for separate categories but realizes there must be fines to the dog owner.

Based on the Council discussion, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to table Ordinance #17-10 with a reintroduction on August 14, 2017.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Patrick Rizzuto

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to table Ordinance #17-10 with a re-introduced ordinance for August 14, 2017.

Ordinance #17-11: Council President Murphy read Ordinance 17-11 by title only.

Ordinance #17-11: Ordinance Amending the Salary Ordinance for “Non-Union” Employees

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the public hearing for Ordinance #17-11.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy
All members voted in favor.

Seeing no members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the public hearing for Ordinance #17-11.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members voted in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #17-11.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dick Wetzel

Council Member Rizzuto questioned if the OEM position is a new employee which Ms. Yetter answered it is.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to adopt Ordinance #17-11.

Council Comments

Council Member Wetzel commented the rescue squads have needed to take leaves of absences which left gaps in coverage but they have the general welfare of public in mind to get the job done.

Council Member Rizzuto made no comments.

Council Member Ooms commented on the Township revaluation and asked if Vernon can just reduce all parcels by a certain percentage and not perform the expensive revaluation. Council President Murphy explained Vernon was ordered by the county to do it and noted that we can adjust all the assessments by a specific percentage only a couple years after last revaluation, which is what Jefferson Township had done. The Council discussed the last revaluation was 10 years ago and statutorily the Township could not simply drops drop rates.

Council Member Kadish commented the Historic Preservation Commission ordinance stated the HPC should have 7 full time members and 2 alternates making quorum four members. He adds due to low membership, there are not enough members to have a meeting and recommends the Ordinance be revised. Council President Murphy states there are several issues with Chapter 5 and 37 of the Administrative Code which need to be addressed and should be done all at once. Council Member Kadish feels that may take too long as the HPC is having difficulty having a quorum to meet.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy recommends to all council to review the Code and submit all recommended changes to the Clerk to create the corrected Ordinance and also suggest having a worksession or subcommittee to discuss further.

Adjournment

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

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:03 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: August 14, 2017