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

Minutes: July 9, 2012

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:30 p.m. on July 9, 2012, in the Vernon Township Municipal Building, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 9, 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.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, and Council President Brian Lynch. Also present were Mayor Vic Marotta, Business Administrator Jerry Giaimis, and Megan Ward, Esq., sitting in for Township Attorney Kevin Kelly.

Salute to the Flag

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

Public Comments

Craig Williams, Environmental Commission, reported at the last Environmental Commission meeting, June 12, Mayor Marotta asked the Commission to consider making a recommendation to the Council about the acquisition of Camp Sussex using Open Space Funds. The Environmental Commission had a special meeting on June 26th to discuss it and stated there were more questions than answers as a result of the discussion. Their group walked the property, but was unable to see everything; they just got a general overview. Mr. Williams questioned if any professional has gone on site to get a preliminary idea of the viability of the buildings that are intended to be reused. The cost to acquire this property needs to be considered. Not all of the Open Space money would go towards the purchase of this land. This is not only an acquisition issue, but it is a development issue, which is not a minor deal. Council President Lynch reported that a work session will be scheduled regarding this property as there are a lot of questions that need to be addressed.

Diane Wexler, Barry Lakes, stated that taxpayer money will be used as it is Open Space money. Ms. Wexler spoke regarding the cost factor with oil tank leaks.

Robert Oliver, Sand Hill Road, questioned how it was going to run if you are not going to have taxpayers money involved? Mr. Oliver questioned if people will need to be hired to maintain Camp Sussex.

Eloise Ruskin, Environmental Commission, wanted to emphasize what Mr. Williams said that the Environmental Commission is not ready to give any money unless the Township made a commitment to doing whatever it would take to meet all these issues about the property. If the Township does not want to take any outside funding for this, ie: grants or Green Acres funding, that would allow non-residents to be using it, which would limit where the money would come from, which means it would come from the tax payers.

Bev Budz, Vernon, questioned if this issue would be put to a referendum. Council Member Rizzuto explained that ‘getting it out to the public’ meant informing the public through a work session.

Gary Martinsen, made a suggestion that there is a piece of property across the street from Maple Grange Park that extends to the PAL property and Mt. Creek; which would be more localized for the residents use.

Debra Carafella, questioned whether there was going to be a public hearing on Ordinance #12-11. Council President Lynch stated it may be open again for public comments.

Tom McClachrie, Vernon Taxpayers Association, spoke regarding the Green Acre funds that were used for Maple Grange Park. The Township turned down the $500,000.00 grant from the State’s Green Acre funds because we wanted to keep it strictly for Vernon residents, which was the rationale at the time. That doesn’t seem to be the case right now, and we are out the $500,000.00.

Closed to Public Comments

No one else wished to speak at this time, and the Council President asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.

Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Eddie Dunn
All were in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Marotta stated this whole issue of Camp Sussex is at the very beginning and wanted to clarify that no decisions have been made about anything regarding not taking any outside money to acquire the camp. The idea was brought forward so that there would be a public discussion. Mr. Marotta was a bit surprised about the stance of the Environmental Commission since their predecessors were on record as recommending that Vernon Township purchase Camp Sussex some time ago, as had the Land Conservancy and several other environmental agencies. The Mayor had recently received a letter from the Environmental Commission on this matter, which he went on to respond to.

Mayor Marotta reported all projects from last year’s storms that had been funded by Vernon Township which totaled $498,657.00 are being reimbursed fully at 75% by FEMA. The Township will receive separate checks for each project; the Township received the first check from FEMA that was for the Basswood Drive project in the amount of $14,528.00. Vernon will be reimbursed $374,782.00 of the $498,657.00 that was spent. The 2012 budget has already paid down $100,000.00 on the bond anticipation note for $1,000,000.00 that we borrowed.

Because of the efforts of the Mayor’s office and the Department of Public Works, as well as the finance office, we have been able to recover for our lake communities an additional $323,210.00 of the $431,000.00 they laid out to fix their communities from FEMA. Mr. Marotta spoke further regarding which communities were involved and some of their reimbursements.

The Mayor stated the Council had received the six month budget summary or revenues and expenditures. Mayor Marotta said we are basically on target, and doing quite well on the expenditure side. He noted that the Township is a little lighter on this year’s tax collection; however, we have already recovered 69% of the total taxes that are delinquent.

Mr. Marotta had begun conversations with the principals of Theta 456 Associates in regard to the affordable senior housing. The Council has already taken definitive action to protect the COAH money that is available, which was done Saturday, June 30th, just in time to beat any action that may have been taken by the State. Mr. Marotta spoke about an Appellate appeal from the NJ Council on Affordable Housing and the NJ League of Municipalities. There will be more meetings with the principals of Theta 456 Associates and hopefully we will be able to bring forward an agreement for the Council’s consideration before the end of the month.

Consent Agenda—Resolutions #12-148 through #12-152

Council President Lynch gave a brief explanation of all resolutions.

Council Member Kadish questioned the use of a DJ at Vernon Day; Mr. Kadish had other questions on certain amounts. Mayor Marotta told Mr. Kadish to call his office with any questions he had regarding the Bills List.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-148.
Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Patrick Rizzuto

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, *Brian Lynch
Nays: None
*Council President Lynch voted yes except that he abstained on any fire department bills.
Resolution #12-148 was approved.

Resolution #12-148: Authorizing the Approval of Bills List

BE IT RESOLVED that the following bills listed are hereby approved:

Disbursement
Journal
FundAmountMajor Vendor
#1CURRENT$1,372.00 
#2CURRENT$39,406.59 
#3CURRENT$445,901.38Int on Bonds
#4CURRENT$1,037,512.70Bd of Ed
#5CAPITAL$26,344.09 
#6GRANT$675.00 
#7RECREATION$1,600.00 
#8RECREATION$1,304.00 
#9RECREATION$2,250.00 
#10OTHER TRUST$39.00 
#11PVL DAM ASSESS$70,817.16 
#12OPEN SPACE$2,875.00 
#13DEVELOPER’S BONDS$690.00 
#14P & Z$3,882.50 
#151ST PAY-JULY$367,711.33 
  $2,002,380.75 

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-149.
Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: None
Resolution #12-149 was approved.

Resolution #12-149: Authorizing In Rem Foreclosure Proceedings

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon holds a Tax Certificate more specifically set forth in the Tax Foreclosure List here in below, which pertains to property within Vernon Township; and

WHEREAS, the Municipal Council of the Township of Vernon has determined that said Tax Certificate shall be foreclosed by summary proceedings In Rem.

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

That the Tax Certificate, as shown on the Tax Foreclosure List below, now held by the Township of Vernon, be foreclosed by summary process In Rem as described in N.J.S.A. 54:5-104.29, et.seq., as amended, and pursuant to the Rules of Civil Practice of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Tax Foreclosure List
Certificate No.BlockLotsAssessed toAmount to redeem
as of 7/09/12
00/134268.1719Vargasky, Helen %Griger, Linda$17,432.08

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-150.
Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Eddie Dunn

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: None
Resolution #12-150 was approved.

Resolution #12-150: Authorization for the Township of Vernon to Execute a Grant of Easement for Road/Driveway Access for Property Located at Tax Block 141 Lot 16

WHEREAS, Black Creek Drive is a municipal right of way; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon currently uses the road/driveway on Black Creek Drive to access the Municipal Sanitary Sewer Pump Station; and

WHEREAS, a small portion of the constructed road/driveway was constructed outside of the ROW on municipal property; and

WHEREAS, KDC Solar, lessee of property located at Block 141 Lot 16 has requested use of the municipal road/driveway to access their newly proposed project; and

WHEREAS, an easement is required for the portion road/driveway constructed outside the ROW; and

WHEREAS, the proposed Grant of Easement requires that KDC Solar be responsible for 100% of any repairs needed to the road/driveway as a result of construction traffic and also agrees to share in 50% of the future costs of maintaining the road; and

WHEREAS, the term of the Easement would continue until 6 months after the conclusion of KDC’s solar lease of Block 141 Lot 16.

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

  1. The Mayor is authorized to execute all documents to Grant an Easement on the access road/driveway for new construction by lessee KDC Solar for access to Block 141 Lot 16.
  2. The Township Special Attorney is authorized to prepare and record the original executed easement with the Sussex County Clerk.
  3. This resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-151.
Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dick Wetzel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: None
Resolution #12-151 was approved.

Resolution #12-151: Resolution of the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon Authorizing Special Counsel to Take All Actions Necessary to Acquire, Through Eminent Domain or Negotiated Purchase, Real Property Interests for the Purpose of Completing Safety Improvements to the Intersection of County Route 517 and Maple Grange/Lounsberry Hollow Roads

WHEREAS, the County of Sussex and the Township of Vernon (“Township”) have entered into a Joint Venture Agreement to make capital improvements to the intersection of County Route 517 and Maple Grange/Lounsberry Hollow Roads;

WHEREAS, the project will include a number of safety features that will significantly improve the intersection and enhance public safety;

WHEREAS, based on preliminary designs for the proposed project, the County of Sussex and Township have determined that certain properties are situated within the improvement area;

WHEREAS, in order to complete the foregoing improvements, it is necessary for the County and Township to acquire various rights-of-ways as well as construction and grading easements in the following properties:

BlockLot
92.012
84.019
84.0110

WHEREAS, the County of Sussex and Township hereby determine that it is necessary and in the public interest to acquire the aforesaid real property interests for the safety improvements described herein;

WHEREAS, the County of Sussex and the Township are authorized to acquire by eminent domain or negotiated purchase interests in real property in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey;

WHEREAS, during the preliminary investigation of the subject properties, the Township ascertained that two of the subject properties are in foreclosure;

NOW THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon for the purposes stated above, under the authority of the laws of the State of New Jersey, the Township Council hereby authorizes the law firm of Courter Kobert & Cohen, P.C. to take all actions necessary to acquire, through eminent domain or negotiated purchase, the following real property interests, for the purpose of completing safety improvements to the intersection of County Route 517 and Maple Grange/Lounsberry Hollow Roads:

BlockLot 
92.012Right-of-Way and Construction Easement
84.019Right-of-Way and Temporary Grading Easement
84.0110Right-of-Way

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-152.
Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Eddie Dunn

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: Daniel Kadish
Resolution #12-152 was approved.

Resolution #12-152: Authorizing and Directing the Mayor and Municipal Clerk to Execute a Developer’s Agreement with Main Street Associates, Inc. and Vernon Town Center Associates, LLC

WHEREAS, the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, desires to enter into a Developers Agreement with Main Street Associates, Inc. and Vernon Town Center Associates, LLC; and

WHEREAS, the parties entered into a Contract to Acquire Real Property on September 8, 2003, which has been extended by the parties to permit negotiations and settlement of all issues; and

WHEREAS, the parties wish to complete the undertakings contemplated in the Contract and settlement of all issues in accordance with the provisions of the Developers Agreement attached hereto.

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

  1. The Mayor and Municipal Clerk are hereby authorized and directed to sign a Developers Agreement with Main Street Associates, Inc. and Vernon Town Center Associates, LLC, a copy of which is attached hereto and made a part hereof.
  2. This Resolution shall take effect immediately.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #12-153.
Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Patrick Rizzuto

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel
Nays: None
Abstain: Brian Lynch
Resolution #12-153 was approved.

Resolution #12-153: Resolution to Authorize Application and Execution for the 2011-2012 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant from the State of New Jersey

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon desires to further the public interest and safety by obtaining a grant from the State of New Jersey for the 2011-2012 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant; and

WHEREAS, the funds from the grant would be used for the reimbursement of Fire Fighter equipment for the Vernon Township Fire Departments; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon is requesting a maximum of $10,000.00 from the grant application.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey, hereby authorizes the Mayor to make application for the 2011/2012 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant through the State of New Jersey and if awarded, authorizes execution of all documents necessary for the grant application.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

2nd Reading and Public Hearing on Ordinance #12-11 by Title Only

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Ordinance #12-11 on 2nd reading.
Motion: Eddie Dunn
Second: Patrick Rizzuto

Council Member Daniel Kadish commented he would like the wording be amended on the ordinance to read “the use of drinking alcohol is prohibited,” instead of the current wording of “the use of alcohol on garden grounds is prohibited.” Mr. Kadish explained that alcohol is used to get rid of certain diseases on some plants. Council Member Kadish expressed his concerns about the amount of parking spaces at the site and also the water for the garden. Mr. Kadish suggested recycling rain water. Council Member Kadish stated he doesn’t think we are ready to move on this ordinance.

Open to Public Comment on Ordinance #12-11

Barbara Green, D.O.G.S. of Vernon, stated that her organization is behind the Council on this ordinance 100% and they have no concerns about the garden.

Craig Williams, Glenwood, spoke regarding a cistern to collect water for the garden instead of using well water.

Debra Carasella, questioned how this ordinance was put back on the agenda for tonight. She had requested information and asked why it is so hard for the public to get information. Council President Lynch replied all the requirements for information to go out were met, notices have been sent out and everything that was statutorily required was done. Mayor Marotta stated that, until this morning, not one person called or showed up in town hall asking for information about the dog park. Ms. Carasella also had concerns about the parking.

Beverly Budz, Vernon, questioned if there would be contamination in the soil for the community garden with the dog park being so close by. Mr. Giaimis reported he has spoken with several different organizations and they said there would be no contamination as long as the dogs stay within the dog park fencing.

Sandy Ooms, Vernon, also had concerns about cross contamination and the parking.

Tom McClachrie, Vernon Taxpayers Association, had questions about the Recreation Department trust fund.

Closed to Public Comment on Ordinance #12-11

Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dick Wetzel
All were in favor.

Vote on Ordinance #12-11

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, Brian Lynch
Nays: Dan Kadish
Ordinance #12-11 was adopted on 2nd reading.

Ordinance #12-11: An ordinance authorizing execution of an amendment to the lease and sublease between the Vernon Township Board of Education, the Township of Vernon, and the dog owners gathering society of Vernon Township, Inc., for certain unimproved real property identified on the Township of Vernon tax map as Block 133 Lot 2


Council Comments

Council President Lynch stated he recently spoke with Shirley Baldwin regarding the recycling center. The employees there are doing a great job keeping it clean and also assisting senior citizens and people who cannot reach the bins or cannot get all the items out of their cars. Mr. Lynch asked the Mayor to pass these congratulations on to the Department of Public Works for doing such a great job. Mayor Marotta said he would be happy to do that and also reported that through the first 6 months of this year, they have turned a $47,800.00 profit on behalf of Vernon Township, which will be alleviating your tax burden by that amount. Last year the recycling generated $98,000.00 in revenue to the community. Mayor Marotta also stated the broken fence at recycling will be replaced within the next two weeks.

Council Member Lynch spoke regarding the issue of texting and cell phone use while driving and the fines that would be imposed on this very serious issue. Mr. Lynch will be contacting the state senator to try and get these laws and fines passed for all. The fines should be no less than for drinking and driving.

Council Member Wetzel thanked the Mayor and Craig Williams for starting the ball rolling on Camp Sussex; and stated this will be a cooperative effort.

Council Member Rizzuto followed up on Council Member Wetzel’s comments about Camp Sussex. Mr. Rizzuto has past experience with purchasing large tracts and construction projects for the Board of Education; and stated this is just the beginning of the process. The Council Member also stated the governing body has the power and able help from our professionals to analyze resource direction. Mr. Rizzuto stated he would wholeheartedly support someone to purchase that property, and he believes this is a fantastic opportunity for the community to come together.

Council Member Kadish stated he would save his comments for the work session. Mr. Kadish desired to explain his vote on this ordinance—he is in favor of the community garden, but believes the parking is a real issue.

Council Member Dunn spoke regarding Camp Sussex, and believes purchasing this will end up costing the Town more in the long term. Mr. Dunn also expressed his concern regarding kids getting hurt at that property in its current state. Mr. Dunn would like to have more dialogue with the Environmental Commission and is looking forward to the work session.

Council President Lynch has concerns about purchasing Camp Sussex; but felt it could be a place of refuge during severe weather emergencies. Mr. Lynch also had questions about how it will be paid for.

Council President Lynch asked for a work session to be held on Saturday, July 21st at 9:00 a.m.

Mayor Marotta asked to clarify two items: 1) this garden is not going to be a reality in 2012, but the garden is planned for the 2013 growing season; and 2) regarding the senior housing, his office will be taking down the names of senior citizens who would be interested in living in senior affordable housing. It does not mean if you are the first one to sign up, you will get a unit—it means his office will be taking names to allow the private sector to look at the real marketplace and determine what the demands for these units are.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted at the Regular Meeting, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Rizzuto. Motion seconded by Council Member Dunn, with all members present voting in favor.

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

Respectfully submitted,
Andrea Bates
Deputy Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: August 13, 2012