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

Minutes: June 11, 2018

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on June 11, 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 and Township Attorney 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. Litigation

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to go into Executive Session at 6:01 p.m.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close Executive Session and commence the regular meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: John Auberger
All members of the Council were in favor.

The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on Monday June 11, 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, CFO Elke Yetter, Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

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.

Seeing no members of the public wishing 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.

Items for Discussion

Property Maintenance Ordinance

Council President Murphy commented that all Council Members will be receiving this a draft of the Property Maintenance Ordinance this week and noted that it originated back in 2015 but was never acted upon. Administration has now revised the proposed ordinance with input from the enforcing municipal departments.

Council Member Ooms commented that the definitions in the ordinance such as premise, lot or plot need clarity and suggested the addition of seasonal exemptions. Council Member Kadish commented that there are special situations of deterioration caused by natural events that may need more leniency in enforcement. He added the ordinance should contain clause that during permitted construction, if violations occur due to unforeseen incidents or delays that owners should be given extensions and not be penalized. Council Member Kadish opined that agricultural properties should be exempted from property maintenance enforcement and noted the supervising entity to those owners is the County Board of Agriculture. Council Member Auberger commented that the ordinance should be for both residential and commercial properties.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #18-167 to #18-170.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #18-167 to #18-170.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark VanTassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger*, Mark Van Tassel, Jean Murphy
* Council Member Auberger abstained on Resolution #18-170.
Nays: None
Abstain: John Auberger from Resolution #18-170.
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolutions #18-167 to #18-170.

Resolution #18-167: Resolution Authorizing Purchase of 2018 Ford Escape through Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council Contract 15-C through Route 23 Auto Mall

WHEREAS, as provided for within the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law (N.J.S.A.40A:11-1 et seq.,) the Township of Vernon may by resolution, and without advertising for bids or obtaining quotations, purchase any goods or services under the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council; and

WHEREAS, the Township has the need on a timely basis to purchase goods and services utilizing the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council, duly authorized under law to extend contract pricing to local units, per N.J.A.C. 5:34-7 et seq.; and

WHEREAS, the Township intends to enter into contract for procurement of a 2018 Ford Escape through Route 23 Auto Mall, 1301 Rt 23 South, Butler, N.J. 07405, authorized under Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council Contract 15C Item #1, term of contract November 1, 2017 through October 31, 2018 in the amount of $22,947.00;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, authorizes the Qualified Purchasing Agent to purchase certain goods and services from the approved Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council Contract 15C pursuant to all conditions of the individual cooperative contracts for a 2018 Ford Escape in the amount of $22,947.00, through Route 23 Auto Mall; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, 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.

Resolution #18-168: Corrective Action Plan 2017 Audit

WHEREAS, the 2017 Annual Audit Report was delivered in May 2018 and regulations promulgated by the Local Fiscal Affairs Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:5 requires that the Chief Financial Officer prepare a Corrective Action Plan covering all findings and recommendations in the audit report; and

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:5 further requires approval of the Corrective Action Plan within 60 days of audit receipt by the Township Council;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the Corrective Action Plan for the 2017 Annual Audit Report prepared by the Township Chief Financial Officer and attached hereto as “Appendix A” be approved.

Appendix “A” Township of Vernon

Corrective Action Plan for the 2017 Audit Report

1. Findings: The various departments/offices of the Township are responsible for the issuance of permits and licenses; collection of taxes, utility charges, and permit and license fees; and recording of collections.

Recommendation: Adequate segregation of duties be maintained with respect to the recording and treasury functions.

Corrective Action: The Township has reviewed the Cost/Benefit of having a separate Cashier function, where residents would have to go to make payments. The building is not designed to allow for all departments to go to a single cashier. At this time, the benefits and logistics of having a central cashier do not outweigh the costs. Budget constraints do not allow the hiring of additional employees to ensure that each employee have a separate duty, however management is cross-training more employees to allow for more segregation of duties. Management has invested in an electronic submission of forms which would allow for online payment of fees. This would centralize collection for certain departments and limit direct collection.

Implementation Date: Early Winter 2018

Resolution #18-169: Renewal of Liquor Licenses in the Township of Vernon for the 2018-2019 Licensing Term

WHEREAS, all licenses to dispense alcoholic beverages must be renewed and reissued annually no later than June 30, 2018; 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, all of the licensees 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 licenses shall be reissued for the 2018-2019 licensing period effective as of July 1, 2018.

CLUB LICENSE
Wallkill Valley VFW Memorial Post #84411922-31-010-002
PLENARY RETAIL CONSUMPTION
FLME, Inc. (The George Inn)1922-33-008-003
Smokeys Glenwood Grill, LLC (Smokeys Brick Oven Tavern)1922-33-013-003
Great Gorge Entertainment LLC1922-33-003-008
Appalachian Liq. Debtor in Possession1922-33-007-015
PLENARY RETAIL DISTRIBUTION
Highland General Store Inc.1922-44-002-002
LWS2 Inc. (Lake Wanda Store)1922-43-005-003
HOTEL EXCEPTION
Stone Hill Recreation Corp.1922-36-011-001

Resolution #18-170: Approving a Charitable Solicitor’s Permit: Vernon Township Fire Department

WHEREAS, Vernon Township Fire Department, PO Box 461, Vernon, NJ 07462, has made application for a Charitable Roadside Solicitor’s Permit for the purposes of soliciting funds on June 30, 2018 at the intersection of Church/Main Street and State Highway 94; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with Ordinance 18-12, the Vernon Township Police Department has reviewed the necessary application found that all documentation is in order;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that approval be granted for a Charitable Roadside Solicitor’s Permit for Vernon Township Fire Department, PO Box 461, Vernon, NJ 07462 June 30, 2018 at the intersection of Church/Main Street and State Highway 94 as depicted on the attached map, subject to the approval of the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey as needed.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Township Clerk is hereby authorized to issue a Charitable Roadside Solicitor’s Permit to the aforesaid applicant in accordance with Chapter 428 of the Code of the Township of Vernon upon receipt of the approval from the County of Sussex.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #18-21 by title only:

Ordinance #18-21: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey Authorizing the Sale of Property Owned by the Township and Not Required for Public Purposes and More Commonly Known as Herold Square, 114 Rt. 94, Block 232, Lot 12

Council Member Kadish expressed his opposition to the sale of this property because the county tax list specifies not to sell the property as it may be needed in the future to expand the current recharge facility because there is no other unique site in Vernon for an expansion in the future. He added that the engineer construction drawings notate that no entry would be approved to RT 517 from this site hindering many proposed uses. Council Member Auberger questioned if the site was purchased with Green Acres funds causing restrictions to be placed during resale.

Mayor Shortway explained much research was done on how the Township acquired this parcel and found no restrictions on the deeds to selling but there are concerns that limit future blasting as it affects the soil beds. Mayor Shortway commented this property in the 2009 Vernon Township Forensic Audit was first appraised at $440,000 than a year later appraised at $1,200.000 and then the Township paid $1,250,000.00. Mayor Shortway added that the County Engineer John Hatzelis stated there are no restrictions on the remaining parcel to the facility. Mayor stated there are four interested parties in this property and the Township’s goal is to return this parcel back to the tax roles as it is no longer needed for an expansion to the facility.

Council President Murphy commented she has spoken to involved parties who could not explain reason why it cannot be sold but concern over blasting exists. She added that on page 3 of Ordinance #08-04, the property Block 232 Lot 12 was noted to be underutilized and opined that retaining the property is a disservice to the community. Council Member Kadish noted that the past deeds to the parcel contain many historical Vernon names.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to Introduce Ordinance #18-21 with a public hearing to be held on June 25, 2018 and auction held on or after July 9, 2018.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: Dan Kadish
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve introduction of Ordinance #18-21 with a public hearing to be held on June 25, 2018 and auction held on or after July 9, 2018.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

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

Ordinance #18-18: An Ordinance of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey Authorizing Special Assessment for the Restoration and Repair of Barry Lakes Dam #2

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the public hearing for Ordinance #18-18.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish
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 #18-18.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members voted in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #18-18.
Moved: 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 adoption of Ordinance #18-18.

Council President Murphy read Ordinance 18-19 by title only:

Ordinance #18-19: Ordinance Amending the Salary Ordinance for “Non-Union” Employees

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the public hearing for Ordinance #18-19.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish
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 #18-19.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger
All members voted in favor.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #18-19.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: Sandra Ooms
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve adoption of Ordinance #18-19.

Public Comments (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

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

Sally Rinker stated at the last Council meeting she appealed to the administration her concerns over the soil being filled in properties in High Ridge and others sites in Vernon without permits. Ms. Rinker opined the recently approved Soil Fill Ordinance needs to be revisited. She provided an envelope of photos to the clerk for distribution.

Drew Ansolati, High Ridge, expressed concern over the mounds of soil and its effect on property values.

Seeing no 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: Mark Van Tassel
All members voted in favor.

Council Member Ooms commented the Soil Fill Ordinance procedures needs to be reevaluated and opined the Township Engineer should be reviewing all minor and major applications and conducting site inspections for approval. Attorney Zielinski commented that the first draft of the Ordinance was extremely restrictive, and the Engineer commented it would negatively affect septic and other contractors during new construction. Attorney Zielinski suggested that Council should provide any comments to his attention and then Council can schedule a future discussion.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway reported that two Soil fill applications have been received and one being over 5000 sq. ft also needed Sussex County Soil Conservation permit. Six summonses have been filed at 3 Silver Spruce and noted conference call is scheduled with NJDEP, Federal, State and County Legislators about dumping issues. The Zoning Office continues their efforts in enforcing the Soil Fill Ordinance and Police Chief Mills has seen a decrease in dumping. Mayor Shortway stated he sent an email to the NJDEP questioning if Mr. Joe Wallace ever fulfilled the NJDEP requirements set forth in a January 14, 2015 NJDEP letter and what further action has been done by the NJDEP. The response stated that per the enforcement program of the NJDEP, the letter sent was a warning notice not a violation with purpose for responsible entity to understand the potential for a violation. Owner of property, Mr. Joe Wallace provided to the NJDEP the analytical data requested which showed no violation based on soil standards and the incident was closed.

Mayor Shortway stated he has a conference call tomorrow June 12th with the NJDEP, federal, state and county agencies to discuss who has jurisdiction, what laws can be enforced and by whom and what procedures need to be followed to obtain core samples for testing purposes. Discussion will include what action can be taken should soil analysis show potential hazards and sources of funding available.

Mayor Shortway commented debriefing needs to be undertaken to prevent situation from occurring again including legislation additionally at the state level. To elevate the allegations of minimum status, which will be done at the state level, to a second-degree crime depending on culpability can be enforced by municipal police or other agencies. Such legislation would lead to presumption of prison time if found guilty. Mayor Shortway commented legislation include those delivering contaminated soil to unauthorized locations, should be exposed to incarceration and monetary penalties. Civil penalties should include seizure of bank accounts, property and seizure of equipment used in commissioning illegal landfills. Mayor Shortway explained the Municipal Police are not a regulatory agency and can only stop trucks if probable cause under Motor Vehicle Title 39 or 2C in Criminal Codes and arrests are unlawful for zoning violations.

Mayor Shortway explained Administration and Council are frustrated with situation and recommends seeking injunction or TRO to prevent further dumping by Mr. Wallace at legal cost up to $5,000 but opined it is money wisely spent for resident’s future wellbeing.

Mayor Shortway commented that Congressman Josh Gottheimer attended Vernon Day and praised the Police Athletic League, Recreation Director Mishelle Downtain, municipal employees and volunteers for the well planned dynamic event.

Mayor Shortway announced the Vernon Trail Challenge, a highly successful program administered by Mishelle Downtain began on June 2nd through October 20th where residents can track personal trail goals.

Mayor Shortway explained he met with Greener By Design and Appalachian Trail personnel about future for expansion of parking facilities to improve safety on Rt 94.

Mayor Shortway commented Vernon Township needs to begin discussion for future ordinance to monitor short term rentals, for example one being AIRBNB, as many complaints have been received. Preventing the rentals is difficult but other communities have ordinances in place addressing the following: fee requirements; 6% hotel tax assigned; prohibit changing character of neighborhoods; property insurance; cap number of properties; regulate number of guests and cars; summons for non-submission of application, etc. Private Lake Communities will have own challenges and will need to be involved in discussion. Fees collected will generate revenue but also allow additional Zoning personnel for enforcement.

Council Member Ooms questioned status of Wisteria contract. Mayor Shortway stated since it is an Open Space issue, he is waiting for Council guidance on how to proceed with clean up of site and commented that taxpayers should not have to pay for the cleanup.

Council Member Ooms asked if the minutes of the Environmental Commission or all Boards with a budget could be added to the website and Mayor said he would review same.

Council Member Auberger questioned if the results of the Soil testing from the Truck Motor Vehicle accident on RT 515 have been received yet. Mayor Shortway stated he has not received them yet but will check with the Police and report back. Council President Murphy asked if the individuals involved in the Moving of Soil have a new court date and Mayor Shortway was not aware of the court docket.

Council Comments

Council Member Ooms had no comments.

Council Member Kadish commented that Vernon Day was well attended by many as well as Congressman Gottheimer, Freeholders Rose and Lazzaro and Republican Freeholder Nominees Fantasia and Hertzberg were present. He reported he attended a NJ Historic Preservation Commission conference in Paterson which was very informative. Council Member Kadish announced the Historic Preservation Commission has approved an Eagle Scout Project by Cameron Venture to design a phone application (app) for the Glenwood Historic Area as well as design and organize construction of a sign for the Area. The Vernon DPW will assist in installation when completed.

Council Member Van Tassel had no comments.

Council Member Auberger had no comments.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy announced that Sussex County is performing minor bridge repair on RT 515 and further information is on the Town website.

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 7:54 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: July 9, 2018