Minutes: July 21, 2012*
Township Council Special Work Session
The Special Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, 2012, in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey. The purpose of this Special Work Session was to discuss the possibility of acquiring Camp Sussex.
Statement of Compliance
Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on July 13, 2012, and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.
Salute to the Flag
Council President Lynch led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.
The Council President called for a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting in Colorado.
Roll Call of Members
Present were Council Members Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, and Dick Wetzel and Brian Lynch. Also present were Mayor Vic Marotta and Township Attorney Kevin Kelly.
Open to Public Comments
The Council President asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Dick Wetzel
Second: Patrick Rizzuto
All were in favor.
Robert Oliver, Vince Lancelotti, Gary Martinsen, Dan Borstad, Shirley Baldwin, Michael Rubin, Mike Armao, Bill McPeek, Bill Weiss, Barbara Chorzepa, Mary Ellen Vichiconti, Craig Williams, Dan Murphy, Shirley Baldwin, Phyllis MacPeek, Jean Murphy, Jenny Projock, Heather Burns, and Alex Wolujczyk are local residents that offered the following comments and opinions about the Camp Sussex issue:
- The use of open space money, as well as the Highlands Act restrictions.
- Concerns regarding an increase in the amount of garbage thrown on the roads, which will increase the amount of animals that scavenge and get hit by cars.
- The element of crime.
- The costs for upkeep of the property.
- Some residents were opposed to the public using Lake Glenwood, as they want the lake to remain clean and pristine.
- One resident stated she would like to see residential houses on that property instead of a camp.
- Other uses for the property were discussed, ie: possibly putting the senior housing in that area.
- Someone mentioned the use of the existing theater building as an arts center.
- Some residents agreed with the acquisition, but said it could cost a lot of money, and are concerned with their taxes going up.
- Some residents are opposed to the purchase and felt this would be a disaster, as well as cost the town a tremendous amount of money.
Closed to Public Comments
The Council President asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Eddie Dunn
All were in favor.
Council President Lynch stated there were no definite plans to purchase the property at this time. This is a clear indication that there are many questions, mostly revolving around costs. Currently the property is a nuisance and a safety hazard. The residents have many concerns, and Mr. Lynch mentioned there will be more than one work session on this issue, to which the Council agreed.
Mayor Marotta explained the process of tax certificates and he further explained how the Township is still responsible to pay the taxes on properties to the school board and the county. The Mayor stated the Township does not have a direct liability of this property at the present time and did not know who is insuring the property now. The Council asked the Mayor to attain more information and he stated that he would compile the information and present it to the Council during the Mayor’s report at an up-coming council meeting.
Open to Public Comments
Craig Williams, Gary Martinsen, Phyllis MacPeek, Jenny Projock, Dan Murphy and Michael Rubin are local residents that got up to speak in public comments.
The core area of the Highlands was discussed, as well as where the wetlands portion is. It was suggested that Council consider using unemployed residents that could volunteer their time to pick up garbage on the property; it was also suggested that if any hiring is done, to consider Vernon residents to fill any positions first. Another request was for Lake Glenwood not to be allowed for public use. Another suggestion was a certain portion of the property could be used for a park to be reserved for recreation. There was a question about using the property as a health care facility.
The Mayor gave an overview of the history of the property and the Highlands Act. Regarding the preservation zone, there is limited and restricted building allowed. Regarding the Highlands Act, we used The Land Conservancy as consultants.
Township Attorney Kevin Kelly spoke regarding prospective buyers and the foreclosure process, and stated there are provisions in the law to allow for immediate purchase.
Council Member Rizzuto stated no decisions will be made at this time. He asked Mayor Marotta to compile the costs to assume ownership, demolition, and financial resources. The Mayor stated he will keep the Council and the public apprised and further stated he is committed to reduce the taxes in town.
Council Member Patrick Rizzuto moved to adjourn the Special Work Session of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon. Council Member Eddie Dunn made the second; all were in agreement. The special meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m.
Deputy Municipal Clerk
Minutes approved: August 27, 2012