Minutes: July 9, 2018

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on July 9, 2018 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 had been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2018 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 Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker and Township Attorneys Louis Modugno and Josh Zielinski.

Executive Session

Attorney Zielinski read the Resolution for the Council to enter Executive Session.

Resolution to Go into Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist;

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

1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter specified subject matter.

2. The general nature of the subject matters to be discussed are:

a. Property Acquisition
b. Litigation
c. Personnel

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to go into Executive Session at 6:02 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

At 6:58 p.m. Council President Murphy asked for a motion to end Executive Session and return to open session at 7:00 p.m.
All members present were in favor.

The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on Monday July 9, 2018 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, 2018 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.

Salute to the Flag

Council Member Murphy led the assemblage in the salute of the flag.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Mark Van Tassel, and Council President Jean Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

Auction

Council President Murphy announced that Ordinance #18-21 was approved on June 25, 2018 and advertised as required to auction Surplus Township Real Property, commonly known as Block 232 Lot 12. Mr. Zielinski opened the auction to any interested bidders. Seeing that no one came forward to submit a bid, Mr. Zielinski closed the auction with no bids received.

Proclamations

Mayor Shortway read the Proclamation designating July as Park and Recreation Month

Designation of July as Park and Recreation Month

WHEREAS parks and recreation programs are an integral part of communities throughout this country, including Vernon Township, NJ; and

WHEREAS our parks and recreation are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in our communities, ensuring the health of all citizens, and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community and region; and

WHEREAS parks and recreation programs build healthy, active communities that aid in the prevention of chronic disease, provide therapeutic recreation services for those who are mentally or physically disabled, and also improve the mental and emotional health of all citizens; and

WHEREAS parks and recreation programs increase a community’s economic prosperity through increased property values, expansion of the local tax base, increased tourism, the attraction and retention of businesses, and crime reduction; and

WHEREAS parks and recreation areas are fundamental to the environmental well-being of our community; and

WHEREAS parks and natural recreation areas improve water quality, protect groundwater, prevent flooding, improve the quality of the air we breathe, provide vegetative buffers to development, and produce habitat for wildlife; and

WHEREAS our parks and natural recreation areas ensure the ecological beauty of our community and provide a place for children and adults to connect with nature and recreate outdoors; and

WHEREAS the U.S. House of Representatives has designated July as Parks and Recreation Month; and

WHEREAS Vernon Township, NJ recognizes the benefits derived from parks and recreation resources

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY the Vernon Township Council that July is recognized as Park and Recreation Month in the Vernon Township, NJ.

Jane Damstra came forward and Mayor Harry Shortway presented a Proclamation honoring her for being named a Hometown Hero.

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

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

Jessi Paladini expressed disappointment that the Council was not aware of the street address for the auctioned Township property. Ms. Paladini was advised this was a Block and Lot.

Sally Rinker opined that although Ordinance #18-20 has been revised it still was not acceptable. Ms. Rinker urged the Council Members to insist on a collaborative process prior to ordinances being created to eliminate need for amendments.

Seeing that no more members of the public wished to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes and Executive Session Minutes of June 11, 2018.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark VanTassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Mark Van Tassel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #18-178 to #18-182.

Council Member Ooms made a motion to pull Resolutions #18-179 and 18-182 from the Consent Agenda.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Mark Van Tassel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to pull Resolutions #18-179 and 18-182 from the Consent Agenda.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #18-178, #18-180 and #18-181.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Mark Van Tassel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolutions #18-178, #18-180 and #18-181.

Resolution #18-178: 2018 Salary for Non-Union Full Time & Part Time Employees

WHEREAS, Ordinance #18-19 amended salary ranges for non-union full time and part time employees.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey that the following persons be compensated at the annual or hourly salary or wage, the same being consistent with Ordinance #18-19 effective January 1, 2018 or July 1, 2018 as listed below.

  Effective 01/01/2018
  2018 Annual Salary
Land Use Administrator(Dept. Head)Decker$66,244.00
DPW- Assistant SupervisorPariso (Effective 5/8/2018)$66,988.00
 
  Effective 07/01/2018
  Per Hour
Security GuardBurns$22.89
Code Enforcement Officer(Zoning)Burns$20.40
Accounting Assistant- Part-timeHanisch $27.05
Animal Control Officer- Part-timeJohnson $18.33
Animal Control Officer- On CallAll $175.00 per week
Animal AttendantMartino$8.84
Nutrition Site ManagerDamstra $17.69
Food Service WorkerGormley $11.44
Fire Prevention SpecialistClark $16.65
Fire Prevention SpecialistO'Connor $20.81
Keyboarding ClerkBenagh $17.34

Resolution #18-180: Resolution Authorizing a Memorandum of Understanding with Tall Timbers Property Owners Association to Address Properties with Delinquent Taxes and Association Fees

WHEREAS, Tall Timbers Property Owners Association (“Tall Timbers”) is the owner and operator of a condominium campground (hereinafter “Premises”) that provides sites for the location of recreational park trailers; and

WHEREAS, Tall Timbers sells and facilitates the sale of campsites at the Premises to individuals that receive deeds to the campsite parcels, which includes an interest in the condominium common elements; and

WHEREAS, numerous owners of campsite parcels cannot be located and/or are deceased. These individuals are delinquent in paying both their municipal taxes owed to the Township and association fees owed to Tall Timbers; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon (“Township”) and Tall Timbers recognize the need to foreclose on these properties with delinquent municipal taxes and association fees for the mutual benefit of the Township and Tall Timbers.

WHEREAS, the Township and Tall Timbers desire to enter a memorandum of understanding concerning the collaborative effort to address the aforementioned properties; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the Mayor and Township Clerk are hereby authorized to execute a memorandum of understanding between the Township and Tall Timbers in a form similar to the document attached hereto. The Township Attorney may make applicable language changes deemed in the best interest of the Township.

Resolution #18-181: Resolution Authorizing the Use of Municipay for Processing of Electronic Payments

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon (“Township”) is in the process of upgrading to the Enterprise Version of Geologic Software from Spatial Data Logic. The software will be used, in part, for permitting and licensing; and

WHEREAS, to get the full benefit of the software it has been determined that a means to accept electronic payments from the public is needed; and

WHEREAS, the Township has received a proposal from MuniciPay, LLC for the processing of electronic payments; and

WHEREAS, the processing of electronic payments by MuniciPay, LLC will provide the Township with greater efficiency and provide greater convenience to the public; and

WHEREAS, it has been determined that acceptance of the proposal from MuniciPay, LLC is in the best interests of the Township.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the acceptance of the proposal received from MuniciPay, LLC that is attached hereto is hereby authorized.

Resolution #18-179: Resolution of the Township of Vernon County of Sussex State of New Jersey Authorizing the Execution of a Fourth Addendum to a Contract for the Sale of Real Property

Council Member Ooms stated that there was a correction that needed to be made in the Contract Addendum. Council Member Ooms stated it should read the 4th addendum not 3rd. Council Member Ooms what a Phase II is and who initiated it. Mayor Shortway stated the document could not be further discussed in public due to ongoing negotiations. Council Member. Ooms stated it was difficult to act on the resolution when details are still needed. It was the consensus of the Council to discuss this further in executive session.

Council Member Ooms made a motion to table Resolution #18-179.
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to table Resolution #18-179.

Council President Murphy requested that the Council adopt a motion that would permit the Mayor to obtain appraisals on potential open space property purchases the Township may be acquiring.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve said motion.

Recess

Council President Murphy asked for motion to take five-minute recess to restore audio connection.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor to take a five-minute recess at 7:17 p.m.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to reconvene public meeting.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor. Meeting reconvened at 7:21 p.m.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #18-20 by title only:

Ordinance #18-20: An Ordinance Replacing Chapter 447 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Property Maintenance“

Council Member Ooms made a motion to discuss Ordinance #18-20 prior to action.
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor.

Council Member Ooms stated the referral of the Building Officials Code Administrators (BOCA) code vs. the International Building Code (IBC) in the Ordinance needs to be corrected to be more congruent with other Vernon Building Ordinances. Council President Murphy noted the Ordinance was drafted in 2015 by the former Attorney John Ursin. Mr. Zielinski explained that states have the discretion to adopt the BOCA Code or the IBC Code and that there is no national body that all states must follow.

Council Member Ooms commented that more involvement by the Building Department is needed as well as the addition of timetable that violations must be corrected by. Council Member Kadish suggested that violations should include noxious weeds only. Council Member Ooms made a motion to table the Ordinance as drafted so revisions could be done. Council President Murphy explained the ordinance’s goal is to keep the town looking better and help property values for our residents.

Council Member Auberger recommended to have the Building Department review the requirements of the Ordinance and to change the timeframe to abate any violations from 10 days to 30 days. Clerk Kirkman advised the Council that the Ordinance already provides for extension of time at the discretion of the Code Enforcement Officer. Council President Murphy seconded the motion to table Ordinance for review of definition clarity and Building Department consistency.

Motion to table:
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: Mark Van Tassel
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to table Ordinance #18-20 and refer it to the Building Department.

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #18-22 by title only:

Ordinance #18-22: An Ordinance of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey Amending Certain Portions of Chapter 250 Entitled “Fees And Escrows,” of the Township Code

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #18-22 with a public hearing to be held on August 13, 2018.
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve introduction of Ordinance #18-22 with a public hearing to be held August 13, 2018.

Public Comments (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members voted in favor.

Scott Summers, Jackson Ave, 20-year resident commented that a neighbor requested a new light be installed on street pole which has become a public nuisance. Mr. Summers explained the LED light is very bright and is affecting his sleep and causing a quality of life issue. As an unofficial representative of his neighborhood, he requested some assistance in this matter for an amicable solution.

Pat Distasi, 4 Silver Spruce, thanked the Administration for organizing water testing for areas affected by the soil issue. He explained that he and his wife have contacted the NJDEP and Highlands Council since 2010. Mr. Distasi stated the NJDEP and Highlands Council have inspected the site at 3 Silver Spruce but were unable to cite any violations. Mr. Distasi thanked Vernon Township for the initiative to bring the issue to Court and noted that past administrations did not give attention to this matter. Mr. Distasi stated that he supported the idea that the Township Council have a workshop to further discuss the existing dumping law, dirt broker regulation and the Senate Bill 1863. Council Member Ooms stated she would like to have a work session on the soil fill ordinance.

Council President Murphy stated the soil fill ordinance was put in place due to resident’s complaints and to give enforcement power to the Police and Zoning Officer. Council President Murphy noted that amendments can be made if needed. Council President Murphy indicated that the Township was waiting for additional information from the attorneys on the issue. Council Member Ooms reiterated she felt a work session was needed.

Sally Rinker commented that a date needs to be set for a work session to revisit the soil fill ordinance because of loopholes and insufficient provisions. Ms. Rinker provided her opinion of the work of Council President Murphy.

Ms. Rinker stated that High Ridge residents are concerned the soil fill in their neighborhood was done without a permit and upon file inspection, no Stop Work Order was in place. Ms. Rinker stated that she discovered that a complaint was filed against her by the owner in High Ridge who did a soil fill because of notices she distributed to other neighbors to refrain from allowing soil fill. She further objected to a Facebook post of no wrongdoing by the owner. Ms. Rinker stated that there was a response by the Business Administrator that the notice she distributed would be provided to the Township Attorney. Ms. Rinker stated she would file a complaint in Superior Court should the Township Attorney help a private resident take action towards her.

Jessi Paladini indicated that she supported the enforcement of soil fill but questioned if there was a conflict that Environmental Commission Chairperson’s private company offered water tests for residents for free when he is the contracted water operator for Vernon and for the former Tennessee Pipeline. She stated she is not an environmentalist but has written biology books and understands the importance of soil testing and questioned why no Stop Work Order was issued. Ms. Paladini commented on a social media post. Ms. Paladini indicated she had OPRA’d records. Ms. Paladini read an unknown report about soil indicating many elements were over the allowable maximum levels.

Margaret Distasi commented that the soil test referred to was not from Silver Spruce which included rebar, shingles or other debris and urged Council to help for the sake of public safety.

Seeing that no more members of the public wished to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members voted in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway explained that the Attorney’s General (AG) Office must determine probable cause to apply for a warrant and Vernon Township Officials cannot go onto any property without an administrative warrant. Mayor Shortway indicated that with help from Senator Oroho’s Office and Congressman Gottheimer, Vernon was able to obtain past reports form the NJDEP and get assistance in contacting the AG’s Office. Mayor Shortway explained for 2 years there has been a dirt broker statute in committee at the state level but it is not yet approved.

New Jersey has drafted a policy to regulate Short Term Rentals (STR), which hopefully will be in effect on October 1, 2018, if passed it would include a 6% occupancy tax creating revenue for the Township.

Mayor Shortway urged the Council to support the Highlands Enterprise Zone which fosters economic climate incentives for businesses because of the Township’s Highlands Designations.

Mayor Shortway noted that Mr. Wallace, 3 Silver Spruce will go before Judge Brennan on July 11, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

Mayor Shortway requested that the Council consider allowing feather signs for businesses as long as it does not cause any visual or police hazards.

Council Member Ooms questioned if the Township has contacted any Lake Communities concerning the Short-Term Rental Ordinance.

Public Comments

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments to discuss short term rentals.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy
All members voted in favor.

Scott Geysels, President of Barry Lakes Association, commented that the short term rentals issue was on the next agenda of the association. Mr. Geysels noted he has not seen any issues in their community and opined the association would most likely agree to defer to the Township’s ordinance.

Lake Pochuck Association, explained their community would not be interested in partaking in the ordinance because they have only 50 members and they do not permit leases or rentals of any kind.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members voted in favor.

Mayor Shortway commented that it would be the Lake Communities prerogative to decide whether or not to allow the rentals.

Council Comments

Council Member Ooms commented she would like a date for the work session to address the soil fill ordinance and the dirt broker ordinance. Council President Murphy said she would second having a work session but the Council needed to find a date and make sure everyone is available. Council President Murphy stated she would like to see the dirt broker ordinance also be prepared at that time. Council Member Ooms indicated she would like to start working on a date. Council President Murphy suggested a possible date of July 23, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. before the meeting. Council Member Ooms indicated that was not an acceptable time. Council Member Ooms questioned Mayor Shortway why there was no permit issued at the site in High Ridge. Mayor Shortway explained he was not prepared to answer at this time but that the Council may call him at any time during the week to discuss.

Council Member Kadish had no comments

Council Member Van Tassel had no comments.

Council Member Auberger questioned the status of the RT 515 weight limit signs. Council President Murphy reminded Council Member Auberger that the County had advised that they are conducting a traffic survey and speed study and then will make recommendations.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy announced that a Highland Lakes resident, with help from Congressman Gottheimer’s Office, received a $7,500.00 grant for much needed home repairs and urged residents to meet with his representatives on Tuesday mornings from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Council President Murphy stated she attended a Freeholder meeting and that Montague Township is also having problems with illegal soil dumping, close to the Delaware River.

Executive Session

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to return to Executive Session for the purposes of Property Acquisition and Personnel at 8:25 p.m., noting that the Council would return to the dias and that additional action may be taken.

Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adjourn Executive Session and reconvene the Regular meeting at 9:05 p.m.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy
All members of the Council were in favor.

Resolution #18-179

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to remove Resolution #18-179 off the table.
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolution #18-179 with a change of the word 3rd to 4th addendum in the contract.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #18-179.

Resolution #18-179: Resolution of the Township of Vernon County of Sussex State of New Jersey Authorizing the Execution of a Fourth Addendum to a Contract for the Sale of Real Property

WHEREAS, the Township entered into a Contract to purchase 9 Wisteria Court from Classiclake Enterprises, LLC which Contract was dated July 6, 2016; and

WHEREAS, there was a need to amend the Contract in order to extend the due diligence period and to include an appraisal contingency clause (the “First Addendum”); and

WHEREAS, there was a need to further extend the due diligence period in order to provide for an additional time to perform a Phase 2 environmental assessment (the “Second Addendum” and “Third Addendum”); and

WHEREAS, there is a need to further extend the due diligence period to perform said Phase 2 environmental assessment; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council, Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey that the Mayor and Clerk are hereby authorized to execute and attest to the Fourth Addendum in a form similar to the document attached hereto. The Township Attorney may make applicable language changes deemed in the best interest of the Township.

Resolution #18-182

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to amend Resolution #18-182 to reflect Charles Voelker as the CFO for a period of ninety (90) days.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to amend Resolution #18-182 as noted.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolution #18-182.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #18-182.

Resolution #18-182: Authorizing Appointment of Temporary Chief Financial Officer

WHEREAS, there currently exists a vacancy in the position of Chief Financial Officer; and

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-140.10 requires such position to be filled by a Township of Vernon (“Township”) employee;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, that Charles Voelker is appointed to serve as Temporary Chief Financial Officer for the Township of Vernon for a term not to exceed ninety (90 days) commencing on July 6, 2018 and ending October 4, 2018, unless a permanent replacement is hired and appointed prior to the expiration of the ninety (90 Day) period.

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 Van Tassel with all members voting in favor.

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:07 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: July 23, 2018