Minutes: March 25, 2019

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on March 25, 2019 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 3, 2019 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, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, CFO Donelle Bright and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

Salute to the Flag

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

Proclamations

Council President Murphy read the Proclamation for Fair Housing Month.

Fair Housing Month

WHEREAS, April 11, 2019, marks the 51th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as amended, which enunciates a national policy of Fair Housing with regard to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap and national origin, and encourages fair housing opportunities for all; and

WHEREAS, the Sussex County Association of Realtors is committed to highlighting the Fair Housing Act by continuing to address discrimination in our community, to support programs that will educate the public about the right to equal housing opportunities, and to plan partnership efforts with organizations to help assure everyone of their right to fair housing; and

WHEREAS, the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics commits all Realtors to providing equal professional services without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon, do hereby proclaim that April 2019 being Fair Housing Month, which begins a year-long commemoration of the Fair Housing Act in the Township of Vernon and urge all citizens to wholeheartedly recognize this celebration throughout the year.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, on this 25th day of March, two thousand nineteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

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: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Sean Mazur, 5 Sleepy Hollow Road, stated that he had purchased the Sleepy Hollow property last year. Mr. Mazur indicated that the property was most likely one of the oldest homes in Vernon and he expressed a desire to save the structure and restore it. Mr. Mazur stated that at the time of purchase the property was in very bad condition with a lot of debris and garbage both inside and out and that the house had suffered a fire at one point. Mr. Mazur indicated his displeasure with the abandoned property ordinance. Mr. Mazur stated that he was actively working on restoring the property but he is doing it over time. Mr. Mazur indicated that he did not believe it was fair that he had to pay a vacant property registration fee for the home he was working on simply because it was not habitable at this time. Council President Murphy referred Mr. Mazur to the Township Zoning officer. Mr. Mazur advised that he had spoken with both the Zoning Officer and Township Administrator, Charles Voelker. Mr. Mazur stated he believed the ordinance was arbitrary and capricious. Mr. Mazur threatened litigation. Attorney Zielinski cautioned the Council not to comment on Mr. Mazur’s response becuase he had threatened litigation against the Township.

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: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger
All members voted in favor.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Special Joint Execute Session Meeting Minutes of February 19, 2019; Regular Meeting Minutes February 25, 2019; Special Meeting Minutes March 4, 2019.

Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel (abstain February 19 only), John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel (abstain on February 19 only)
Absent: None

Motion carried to approve the Special Joint Execute Session Meeting Minutes of February 19, 2019; Regular Meeting Minutes February 25, 2019; Special Meeting Minutes March 4, 2019.

Items for Discussion

Vernon Township Budget

Council President Murphy noted that the Township budget was not ready to be introduced at this time noting it is being reviewed by the Township Auditor. Council President Murphy indicated the Council will be meeting on Thursday, March 28 to review the updated budget and provide recommendations. Council President Murphy indicated there had been a discussion about removing the cost for the lights for Veterans Park for this year. Council President Murphy stated that the budget would be on for introduction on April 8. Council President Murphy asked if there was any money left over from the temporary budget. CFO Bright claimed there was some but some accounts are running short. CFO Bright noted that some bills are set up to be paid in the first half of the year. CFO Bright indicated she would have the Council’s budget packet ready for them for Tuesday.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy read the title and gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #19-89 through #19-97.

Council Member Auberger requested that Resolution 19-89 be held out for separate vote.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #19-90 through #19-97.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to approve Resolutions #19-90 through #19-97.

Resolution #19-90: Refund for Totally Disabled Veteran (Block 73.16 Lot 87—Roman)

WHEREAS, THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS awarded Luis Roman a 100% permanent and totally disabled veteran: and,

WHEREAS, the law exempts said property from taxation.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon hereby authorizes the Tax Collector to refund 4th quarter 2018 property taxes in the amount of $520.33 to Luis Roman.

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this Resolution be forwarded to the Township Tax Collector.

Resolution #19-91: Resolution Authorizing Execution of NJDEP Form WQM-003 in Connection with Tall Timbers Property Owners Association’s Treatment Works Approval Application

WHEREAS, the Tall Timbers Property Owners Association (“Tall Timbers”) is seeking to submit an application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) for a Treatment Works Approval for the construction of an on-site wastewater treatment and disposal alteration at 100 Tall Timbers Road, Vernon Township, New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the Treatment Works Approval application must include NJDEP Form WQM-003 also known as a Statements of Consents. The form must be executed, in part, by an authorized representative of the governing body of the municipality where the treatment works will be located; and

WHEREAS, the appropriate Township Officials have reviewed the proposed project by Tall Timbers and have determined that municipal consent of Tall Timbers’ application to the NJDEP is appropriate; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the Mayor is hereby authorized to execute the attached form WQM-003 in connection with Tall Timbers’ Treatment Works Approval application.

Resolution #19-92: Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of a Duplicate Tax Sale Certificate Pursuant to Chapter 99 of the Public Laws of 1997

WHEREAS, the Tax Collector of Vernon Township has previously issued a tax sale certificate to TFS Cust. for FIG Cap Inv NJ13, LLC which certificate is dated October 17, 2017 covering premises commonly known and referred to as Block 180.04 Lot 47 as set out on the municipal tax map then in use which certificate bears number 17-00086.

WHEREAS, the purchaser of the aforesaid tax sale certificate has indicated to the Tax Collector that they have lost or otherwise misplaced the original tax sale certificate and have duly filed the appropriate Affidavit of Loss with the Tax Collector, a copy of which is attached hereto.

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon that the Tax Collector of the municipality be and is hereby authorized upon receipt of the appropriately executed and notarized Loss Affidavit and the payment of a fee of $100.00 per certificate, to issue an appropriate duplicate tax sale certificate to the said purchaser covering the certificate lost as previously described all in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 99 of Public Laws of 1997.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution and the Loss Affidavit be attached to the duplicate certificate to be issued to said purchaser and that said duplicate certificate shall be stamped or otherwise have imprinted upon it the word “Duplicate” as required by law.

Resolution #19-93: Transfer Resolution—Balance Transfers

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon Municipal Reserve Budget requires certain modifications to cover potential expenses that may occur in excess of the original budget.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the following Transfer of Appropriations (Municipal Reserve Budget) in accordance with N.J.S.A 40A-58/59 are hereby approved.

ACCOUNTTRANSFER OUTTRANSFER IN
FROM CURRENT FUND:
10572500A—BUILDING DEPARTMENT S&W$10,000.00 
10571220A—LEGAL SERVICES $10,000.00
10563020A—SOCIAL SECURITY$5,500.00 
10573520A—OTHER INSURANCE $5,500.00
TOTAL TRANSFERS$10,500.00$10,500.00

Resolution #19-94: Emergency Temporary Appropriations

WHEREAS, an emergent condition has arisen in that the Township is expected to enter in contracts, commitments or payments prior to the 2019 budget and no adequate provision has been made in the 2019 temporary budget for the aforesaid purposes, and

WHEREAS, N.J.S. 40A:4-20 provides for the creation of an emergency temporary appropriation for said purpose, and

WHEREAS, the total emergency temporary appropriation resolutions adopted in the year 2019 pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 96, P.L. 1951 (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20) including this resolution total:

Current Fund $5,207,676.00

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, (not less than two-thirds of all the members thereof affirmatively concurring) that in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20:

1. Emergency temporary appropriations be and the same are hereby made in the amount of:

EMERGENCY TEMPORARY APPROPRIATIONS
CURRENT FUND
General AdministrationS&W$27,470
General AdministrationO/E$18,090
Mayor & CouncilS&W$8,040
Mayor & CouncilO/E$1,139
Municipal ClerkS&W$26,130
Municipal ClerkO/E$8,710
FinanceS&W$36,850
FinanceO/E 
Technology $8,710
Revenue Admin.S&W$20,100
Revenue Admin.O/E 
Tax AssessmentS&W$51,000
Tax AssessmentO/E$4,000
Legal Services $75,700
Engineering $5,360
Land UseS&W$26,800
Land UseO/E$13,400
Insurance $1,200,000
PoliceS&W$676,700
PoliceO/E$26,800
Radio Comm.S&W$72,360
Radio Comm.O/E$2,010
Volunteer Emerg. $67,000
Fire PreventionS&W$24,120
Fire PreventionO/E$2,010
Prosecutor $4,757
Streets & RoadsS&W$201,000
Streets & RoadsO/E$150,000
RecyclingS&W$3,350
RecyclingO/E$4,000
Social Security $106,000
DCRP $1,340
Building & GroundsS&W$8,710
Building & GroundsO/E$16,080
Fleet MaintenanceS&W$40,870
Fleet MaintenanceO/E$43,550
Municipal Services $105,000
Animal ControlS&W$26,800
Animal ControlO/E$2,680
RecreationS&W$5,695
RecreationO/E$12,060
Senior CitizensS&W$5,360
Senior CitizensO/E$12,060
Park MaintenanceS&W$30,000
Park MaintenanceO/E$6,365
Municipal CourtS&W$50,000
Municipal CourtO/E$1,474
Construction OfficialS&W$69,680
Construction OfficialO/E$2,000
Utility Expense $85,090
BANs $800
Sussex County MUA** $350,000
PERS Liability $485,000
PFRS Liability $880,000
Sub Total $5,112,220
SHARED SERVICES S&W
911 Comm. $18,375
Animal Control Services $3,189
Financial Services $8,367
Administrative Services $13,254
DPW Services $45,000
Senior Citizens $7,271
Sub Total $95,456
TOTAL EMERGENCY TEMPORARY APPROPRIATIONS $5,207,676

2. Said emergency temporary appropriations will be provided for in the 2019 budget.

3. That one certified copy of this resolution be filed with the Director, Division of Local Government Services.

Resolution #19-95: Resolution Authorizing the Hiring of a Payroll Management Services and Software Vendor through the Competitive Contracting Process

WHEREAS, the Township has a desire to provide for efficient Payroll Management and Software Services in accord with N.J.S.A 40A:11-4.1 et seq., and

WHEREAS, such services are currently available to be provided through the competitive contracting process under the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-4.1(a).; and

WHEREAS, the Township desires to evaluate such management and software offerings from Vendors within the procedures as set forth in the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law (N.J.S.A.40A:11-4.1 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 5:34-4 et seq.,); and

WHEREAS, the Township desires to enter into a contract for up to a five (5) year contract that will satisfy the needs of the Township and in accord with N.J.S.A 40A:11-4.1; and

WHEREAS, as per statute the process will be administered by the Qualified Purchasing Agent (N.J.S.A 40A:11-4.5(d)); and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, as follows:

The Qualified Purchasing Agent is hereby authorized to commence the competitive contract/procurement as allowable under the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law for Payroll Management Services and Software Services, allowing for a minimum of 20 days’ notice after advertisement to receive responses, per Local Publics Contract Law.

Resolution #19-96: Authorizing Engineering Design & Preparation of Contract Documents for Proposed Improvements to Warwick Turnpike

WHEREAS, the Township has the need to make improvements to Warwick Turnpike in order to address poor roadway conditions and unsafe conditions that exist today: and

WHEREAS, the Township wishes to have the improvements to Warwick Turnpike completed as soon as possible and minimize repair work that will need to be completed by the Township Department of Public Works if such improvements are not completed during the Summer of 2019; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer has proposed that the start of the design and preparation of the contract documents be expedited so that the project can be bid in the Spring of 2019 and project awarded so that the project could be constructed in the latter part of the Spring of 2019 or the beginning part of the Summer of 2019 if the final project costs are approved by the Township Council; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer estimates that the cost of for the engineering design and project bidding for the proposed improvements to Warwick Turnpike would be $15,000.00.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that it hereby approves the use of funds from the Capital Improvement Fund # 301300 for the engineering design and project bidding for the proposed improvements to Warwick Turnpike up to a maximum amount of $15,000.00.

Resolution #19-97: Authorizing Engineering Design & Preparation of Contract Documents for Turf Field Replacements at the Maple Grange Community Park

WHEREAS, the Township has the need to replace the synthetic turf surface on two (2) of the athletic fields at the Maple Grange Community Park: and

WHEREAS, the Township wishes to have the synthetic turf surface for these athletic fields replaced during the Summer of 2019 so that the fields will be in operation for the Fall of 2019; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer has proposed that the start of the design and preparation of the contract documents be expedited so that the project can be bid in the Spring of 2019 and project awarded so that the project could be constructed in the Summer of 2019 if the final project costs are approved by the Township Council; and

WHEREAS, in a memorandum dated March 12, 2019, the Township Engineer estimated that the cost of for the engineering design and project bidding for the proposed synthetic turf field replacements at the Maple Grange Community Park would be $10,000.00.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that it hereby approves the use of funds from the Capital Improvement Fund for the engineering design and project bidding for the proposed synthetic turf field replacements at the Maple Grange Community Park up to a maximum amount of $10,000.00.

Resolution Requiring Separate Action

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolution #19-89.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: John Auberger
Absent: None
Motion passed to approve Resolution #19-89.

Resolution #19-89: Charitable Solicitor’s Permit Vernon 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 April 27, April 28, July 6, October 2, October 3, 2019 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 on April 27, April 28, July 6, October 2, October 3, 2019 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 #19-07 by title only:

Ordinance #19-07: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 99 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Vehicles And Traffic”

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance 19-07 with a public hearing to be held on April 22, 2019.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #19-07 with a public hearing to be held on April 22, 2019.

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #19-08 by title only:

Ordinance #19-08: Ordinance Amending the Salary Ordinance for “Non-Union” Employees

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to Introduce with a public hearing to be held on April 8, 2019.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel

Council Member Curreri expressed concern over the legality of changing the salary ranges for various positions. Council President Murphy indicated she had discussed this matter with the Township Attorney prior to the introduction. Council President Murphy stated that this ordinance was passed in 2018 and was part of a 5 year plan for salaries. Council President Murphy noted that the positions that are being adjusted are for persons who have retired or left the Township and one position that is vacant. Council President Murphy indicated she will provide the information to Council Member Curreri that was received last year.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: Patrick Curreri
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #19-08 with a public hearing to be held on April 8, 2019.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #19-05: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 89 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Bereavement Leave for Non-Union Employees

Council President read by title Ordinance #19-05.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #19-05.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Patrick Curreri
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #19-05.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #19-05.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Patrick Curreri

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #19-05.

Ordinance #19-06: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 130 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Vacant and Abandoned Property Fees

Council President read by title Ordinance #19-06.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #19-06.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #19-06.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #19-06.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #19-06.

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.

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: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway stated that he agrees with Council Member Curreri on Ordinance 19-08, indicating he does not believe there should be a limit on the earning potential of the positions. Mayor Shortway stated many of these positions are held by women and expressed concern that the salary range of a protected class was being change. Mayor Shortway further indicated that the ranges have no economic impact on the budget. Mayor Shortway stated he will veto it if it does pass.

Mayor Shortway noted that the Township received the 2018 Mayors Wellness Campaign Healthy Town in the Making recognition. Mayor Shortway congratulated, Mishelle Downtain, Jean Buffalino, our recreation, and GAAC committees and all our volunteers, who strive to make our community a better place to live, work and play.

Mayor Shortway congratulated Jane Damstra for being recognized for her outstanding achievement as site manager at the Vernon Congregate Nutrition Site.

Mayor Shortway announced that all turf fields are fully open. Mayor Shortway indicated that the Township will try to minimize traffic in the goal zones of the upper fields where they were found to be unsafe. Mayor Shortway stated the Township decompacted the fill and obtained safe levels. Mayor Shortway noted that this is a temporary fix.

Mayor Shortway stated that the upper fields will be tested again in early May and the infill decompacted again, if necessary, but as of July 1, the fields will have to close them if they are not being replaced.

Mayor Shortway noted that the lower field is in good shape and we anticipate with proper care, we should have another 2 years on it.

Mayor Shortway stated that the DPW does a phenomenal job maintaining the fields and Ms. Downtain will be monitoring its condition regularly to schedule any servicing beyond normal grooming if needed.

Mayor Shortway stated that Ms. Downtain is commended for formulating a solution to allow our many programs to utilize this great Township resource.

Mayor Shortway indicated that six Vernon Police Officers attended advance truck enforcement course and that the Township was conducting due diligence at the following locations for the possible respective motor vehicle restrictions:

  • Maple Grange Road in the area of the park to Canal Rd—lowering the speed limit to 25mph to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Owen Station Rd.—Banning through commercial truck traffic of weight to be determined, possibly 10 tons.
  • Addressing truck traffic and speed limits on Rt. 515 south of the Town Center.
  • Continued communication with County regarding the Rt. 517 Lake Pochung Rd. Intersection.

Mayor Shortway discussed that Congressman Gottheimer and State Sen. Steve Oroho have launched a Sussex County Tourism Task Force. Mayor Shortway stated that he had been appointed to the task force in an effort to increase tourism and capture more state dollars. Mayor Shortway noted that the Township currently only realize $140,000 of the state’s $9 million tourism promotion budget.

Mayor Shortway indicated that he continues to strive to fulfill his campaign pledge to create a culture of well-being that incorporates passive recreation for all Vernon residents.

Mayor Shortway stated that at the center of his agenda is the construction of a hiking and biking trail system to compliment the town center as the hub for business. A trail system should include a pedestrian and bicyclists route parallel to the Main Street district as the center point of passive recreation and art. This will allow mixed-use passive and active recreation uses within easy walking distance to connect our commercial, municipal complex and resort areas.

Mayor Shortway stated that art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. This brings artists, and artistic activity into human-centric and holistic community development.

Mayor Shortway indicated that this allows having the different art disciplines and diverse cultures represented alongside commercial, housing and transportation, (a passive trail system)—with each sector as creating a vibrant community. It will also provide economic sustainability.

Mayor Shortway stated planning and investment are required from us to fulfill our responsibility to contribute to Vernon’s overall future.

Mayor Shortway indicated that such an agenda must be inclusive to the needs of all our residents, including our older population and those faced with physical, intellectual and mental challenges.

Mayor Shortway stated that the Township has taken the initial steps to improve the Town Center and municipal complex:

  • Suez water to Church St and immediate area.
  • Sewer service to municipal center
  • Paving of the Municipal Center parking lot and recycling center.
  • The successful resurrection of the Beautification, Recreation, and Art Committees.
  • Creation of a 306-acre redevelopment zone in the Town Center along Routes 94 and 515 that could serve as a catalyst to future commercial development there.
  • An Ordinance Authorizing a Referendum to Allow Additional Expenditures from the Open Space Trust Fund for Public Pathway Development and Maintenance. Voters approved this measure.
  • An Ordinance for “Property Maintenance”
  • An Ordinance to address and regulate “Abandoned Properties and Unfit Buildings”
  • Improvements to the Senior Center including new doors and kitchen cabinets.
  • Acquisition of purchase of new equipment including, a reach-in freezer for the Senior Center Kitchen and all equipment, attachments and accessories as necessary.
  • Improvement of municipally-owned properties and facilities in and by the Municipal Building by the upgrade of the fire sprinkler system and the water hook-up facilities.
  • Display of art by local artists in the municipal complex
  • Created the Greenway Action Advisory Committee.
  • The GAAC has achieved Sustainable NJ Bronze Certification and a $2000.00 grant to blaze the TC Trail.
  • Volunteers blazed the Town Center Trail.
  • Clean up of municipal storage yard.
  • Approval of the use of funds from the Open Trust Fund for the engineering design for the construction of the Town Center Bike and Walking Trail

Mayor Shortway advised that in the last two years the Township has received the following recognition:

  • 2018 Mayors Wellness Campaign Healthy Town in the Making
  • 2018 Appalachian Trail Community
  • 2018 ANJEC Award for the Vernon Greenway Project.
  • 2017 Bronze Certification Sustainable NJ
  • 2017 NJ #1 Nature Destination by Expedia.com

Mayor Shortway respectively requested the council support the following as his mayoral term winds down:

Mayor Shortway stated that approval of $176,000 from the Open Space Fund for the Town Center Trail should be placed on the April 8th Agenda.

Mayor Shortway requested introduction of the Short Term Rental Ordinance for April 8th. Mayor Shortway proposed a short term rental occupancy tax or permit fee be set for funds to be placed in a Tourism Trust Account to support the trail and amenities, arts, historical interests, recreation and he proposed, the Dan Kadish Memorial Amphitheater.

Mayor Shortway explained that the Dan Kadish Memorial Amphitheater will be financed through a number of different means including but not limited to Open Space Funds as approved by referendum, donations and appropriate Township funds as available.

Mayor Shortway stated that he is requesting that the Council create a sub-committee made up of two council members and volunteers as Council deems fit to identify sources of finance, necessary purchases, volunteer contractors, plans and construction.

Mayor Shortway stated he proposed the site be in the municipal complex to afford easy access from the Senior Center, PAL, and Town Center Trail.

Mayor Shortway stated he is sensitive that there exist a vision that the amphitheater be named in honor of our Vietnam Veterans. Mayor Shortway stated he has the utmost respect for our Vietnam Veterans. Mayor Shortway stated he was too young to serve during the Vietnam Era. However, several of his relatives and friends’ brothers did. Mayor Shortway stated his uncle was shot during a firefight and survived. Mayor Shortway explained a friend’s brother came home in a flag draped coffin.

Mayor Shortway stated his sons, father, grandfather, father-in-law, several uncles and cousins are veterans. Mayor Shortway stated his cousins, a niece and nephew are currently US Marines.

Mayor Shortway stated that the sacrifice of the Vietnam Veteran is not forgotten along with the sacrifice of all our veterans. Mayor Shortway stated that along the trail, he respectfully requests consideration for a place for serenity consisting of benches, each in honor of a specific conflict or war that our military engaged our enemies. Mayor Shortway stated this place will be dedicated for reflection. Mayor Shortway stated it will be off of Black Creek Drive. Mayor Shortway stated the location overlooks the valley, a spectacular view for all to reflect and find peace.

Council Comments

Council Member Auberger questioned the inclusion of Owen Station Road in the trucking restriction. Council Member Auberger indicated that Owen Station Road is a County Road and therefore he did not believe that the Township had authority over that route. Mayor Shortway thanked Council Member Auberger for the information and indicated he would pursue the matter with the County.

Council Member Van Tassel stated that he, Council Member Curreri and Mayor Shortway had walked part of the proposed trail. Council Member Van Tassel indicated that some of the views are amazing and expressed hope in moving forward. Council Member Curreri stated the views are spectacular and indicated people should see for themselves.

Council Member Ooms commented that while the Mayor was talking about recreation, what is the Township going to do about revenue. Council Member Ooms asked what is the EDAC doing to drive revenue into the township. Mayor Shortway stated that the abandon building ordinance had been adopted and he was hopeful that the short term rental ordinance would likewise move forward. Council Member Ooms stated that the Township needs millions and is taxing the residents to make revenue for itself. Council Member Ooms indicated that she did not believe that tourism is enough, and asked what other ideas are there moving forward. Council Member Ooms indicated that she believed businesses were leaving town. Mayor Shortway stated he believed a lot of new businesses had come into town. Council Member Ooms expressed concern over the Board of Education budget and potential tax increase, noting the Township needs something to stabilize the tax rate.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy noted that there had been some new businesses in town. Council President Murphy expressed concern over the short term rental ordinance. She discussed that the ordinance in its current form is massive and confusing as written. Council President Murphy indicated that if some Lake Associations are thinking about instituting rules and regulations about short term rentals in their communities then the Council needs to have that information before the township moves forward. Council President Murphy stated a line of communication needs to be opened up with the Lake Associations. Council President Murphy also noted that the Council needs to know how this ordinance will work, how much work is this going to be, is the Township going to have to hire new staff. Council President Murphy expressed concern over the volume of work noting that if the Township hired new staff than like other things once the initial implementation dies down, the job created will not be offset by the cost of the revenue generated which will cost taxpayers more money. Mayor Shortway indicated he did not believe it mattered whether or not the Lake Associations permitted or do not permit short term rentals. Council President Murphy pointed to the issues the Township faced with the adoption of the Chicken Ordinance where the Township permitted chickens on certain properties and the Lake Associations did not which created difficulty and confusion for the residents as they try to abide by two sets of rules.

Council President Murphy commented that the township adopted its salary ordinance last year and now several employees have retired, she questioned leaving salary ranges in place for employees that had years on the job when the positions were now being filled with new people who were being hired at lower rates of pay. Council President Murphy noted this is a housekeeping issue and it is owed to the tax payer to look over these things as they arise. Council President Murphy stated that Vernon was and is an equal opportunity employer. Council President Murphy confirmed with the Township Attorney that if the Mayor chose to veto the ordinance that the Council could override the Mayor’s veto by 4 votes. Council President Murphy noted that the Council was provided the salary ranges and questioned how the Township could explain to the tax payer that persons retired but the Township continues to maintain higher salary ranges even though the employee is new to the position. Council President Murphy noted that the salary ranges last year were for a five year plan for some employees that are no longer here. Mayor Shortway indicated he disagreed, commenting that there is no financial impact on the budget. Council Member Ooms asked for an explanation of how employee salaries do not affect the budget. Administrator Voelker indicated the current salaries for those positions are less than last year. Council President Murphy questioned why if the salaries being paid for those positions are now less than last year why there was any concern over reigning in the ranges. Council Member Curreri questioned if every time an employee leaves should the Township change the ranges. Council President Murphy noted that this was done last year and being reviewed again this year.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Auberger and was 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 7:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: April 22, 2019