Minutes: March 9, 2020

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The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on March 9, 2020 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Harry Shortway presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 7, 2020 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 John Auberger, Jean Murphy, Mark Van Tassel, Kelly Weller and Council President Shortway. Also present were Attorney Joshua Zielinski, Business Administrator Charles Voelker and Mayor Howard Burrell.

Salute to the Flag

Council President Shortway led the assemblage for the salute to the flag.

Proclamation

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

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

Ruth Ann Mekita - Hewitt, NJ, commented that she and her husband own an Air B&B at Red Lodge Dr. Ms. Mekita is very concerned that some of the information in the Short Term Rental ordinance the town is requesting will be too animus. She said that the car people are using can be a rental car. Ms. Mekita commented that in order to be a customer of Air B&B personal information is collected from Air B&B. Ms. Mekita stated that she already pays an HOA to the condo association and feels that the short term rental fee is too high. Ms. Mekita mentioned that having an Air B&B provides stability in town because the units are being used and kept up with. She said that the owners need to keep their property in very good shape and guest have to behave because they are rated. As a super host or a guest, you want to have five star ratings. Ms. Mekita spoke about the phone number that is provided by Air B&B in case there is a problem with renters.

Maria Molar - Staten Island, NY, owns an Air B&B in Great Gorge Village. Ms. Molar is concerned about the short term rental fees on top of the condo association fees she pays. She feels that she pays taxes here and does not want to be disregarded as someone who is not part of the community. Ms. Molar is concerned about collecting ID from her renters. She feels that Air B&B has already collected ID from renters and is concerned about identity theft.

Paul Mele - Butternut Dr, commented on the change in the salary ordinance for the construction inspectors. Mr. Mele feels that the construction inspectors are doing more work and working more hours and they should be compensated for that. He feels that the inspectors are working hard and deserve to be paid for it and treated right.

Seeing no one further wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: John Auberger
All members present voted in favor.

Minutes

January 27, 2020 - Regular Meeting
February 10, 2020 - Regular Meeting
February 19, 2020 - Budget Workshop Meeting
February 24, 2020 - Regular Meeting
February 27, 2020 - Budget Workshop Meeting

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve the above meeting minutes.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All were in favor. Motion carried.

Consent Agenda

Council President Shortway read the titles of the resolutions.

Council Member Murphy ask if the resolutions could be votes on separately. All were in favor.

Resolution #20-68: Authorizing the Collective Bargaining Agreement with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and Vernon Township

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-68.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Van Tassel, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-68.

Resolution #20-68: Authorizing the Collective Bargaining Agreement with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and Vernon Township

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has agreed to enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees ("AFSCME"), which shall govern the terms of employment and compensation for the Department of Public Works for the calendar years 2019 through 2021; and

WHEREAS, AFSCME, has agreed to enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Township of Vernon and shall be adopting a resolution voted upon by its members adopting said Agreement.

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 Township Council authorizes a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Township and the AFSCME.
  2. The Mayor and Township Business Administrator are authorized to sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement on behalf of the Township.
  3. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

A copy of this resolution as well as the referenced Collective Bargaining Agreement shall be placed on file with the Clerk of the Township.

Resolution #20-92: Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Authorizing Proceeding with the Application for Funds from the Highlands Open Space Partnership Funding Program for the Town Center Trail

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-92.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Van Tassel, Weller, Shortway
Nays:
Abstain:
Absent:
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-92.

Resolution #20-92: Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Authorizing Proceeding with the Application for Funds from the Highlands Open Space Partnership Funding Program for the Town Center Trail

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon ("Township") wishes to advance its Town Center Trail as a recreation asset to the public under its Open Space Plan; and

WHEREAS, the Township seeks to acquire property located at Block 391, Lot 12 ("Property") in furtherance of advancing the Town Center Trail project; and

WHEREAS, the Property would facilitate the development of the Town Center Trail and build on the Greenway by protecting open space that adjoins the Vernon Recreational Center to open space currently owned by the Township along Black Creek; and

WHEREAS, the Property is in its natural state and the Township would like it to remain in its natural state; and

WHEREAS, the Property is also a part of the watershed of wetlands along Black Creek, which contains State Species of Special Concern deserving of protection; and

WHEREAS, the Property also provides a sweeping view of the New Jersey Highlands, promoting the goal of maintaining the Highlands viewshed.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the Business Administrator is hereby authorized to submit a grant application to the Highlands Open Space Partnership Funding Program to match funds it has reserved for the purchase of the Property.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of the Township of Vernon authorizes Conservation Advising Services to act as the Township's agent in preparing the application and providing the Highlands Council with any and all information required in the application process.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Ordinance #20-09: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Creating Chapter 476 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Short-Term Rentals”

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-09.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Ordinance #20-09 for introduction.
Moved: Kelly Weller
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: John Auberger, Mark Van Tassel, Kelly Weller, Harry Shortway
Nays: Jean Murphy
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carries to approve Ordinance #20-09 for introduction.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #20-07: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending Chapter 509 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Taxation” to Revise the Definition of Transient Accommodations

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-07.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #20-07.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #20-07
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #20-07.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Van Tassel, Weller, Shortway
Nays: Jean Murphy
Abstain: None
Absent:
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #20-07

Ordinance #20-08: Ordinance Amending the Salary Ordinance for “Non-Union” Employees

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-08.

Council Member Murphy commented that an inspector has been hired and she would have liked that information prior to the salary ordinance.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open public hearing for Ordinance #20-08.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close public hearing for Ordinance #20-08.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #20-08.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Van Tassel, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent:
Motion passed to adopt Ordinance #20-08

Public Comment (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members voted in favor.

Seeing no one else wishing to come forward, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller
All members present voted in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Burrell reported about some of the experiences different people have had when dealing with employees that work in the Township. Mayor Burrell has stress to the township employees the importance of never forgetting the fact that we work for the people of this town. He said with every interaction the town employees have with the people of the town, we are being graded by those individuals. Mayor Burrell said that this message has been strongly reinforced and supported by Charles Volker, the Town Administrator. Mayor Burrell roams the halls of the municipal building and asks visitors how they were treated by the employees. Mayor Burrell has not encountered a visitor saying that they have been treated unkind, disrespectable, unprofessional or rude by a town employee. Mayor Burrell read out loud two emails that he received from residents that said what great service that was received from the tax assessor Kristen Umansky as well as the Tax Collector Lisa Kimkowski and Administrative Secretary Irene Mills.

Council Comments

Council Member Murphy reported that she and Council Member Auberger attended a liaison meeting with the Board of Education. Council Member Murphy gave to the Council the Board of Education's draft numbers that show the tax increase per taxpayer. Council Member Murphy said that the Board of Education will be losing a principal and several teachers to retirement and they will not be replaced. Council Member Murphy has also heard that several commercial properties felt that their tax assessments came in too high and they will be appealing this. Council Member Murphy would like to know when the fire inspection applications will be automated. Council Member Murphy also commented about a position that was created and an employee being paid for that position without Council's knowledge. She said that this cannot be done and it is unfortunate that this happened.

Council Members Van Tassel and Weller had no comments.

Council Member Auberger reported that the Board of Education would like to explore some shared services with the township. Council Member Auberger asked if the battery in the AED by the front door been replaced. Administrator Voelker responded saying that some new batteries have been ordered. Council Member Auberger requested that some fencing is placed by the police emergency door where trimming was done to keep anyone from falling until the broken railing is fixed. Council Member Auberger mentioned the old ladder truck that is sitting at the Mcafee Fire House. He feels that because we are looking to trade the ladder truck in we should keep it safe. He recommends it is moved to the DPW yard. Mayor Burrell responded saying that they are trying to find a covered place for the truck or at least a safe place.

Council President Comments

Council President Shortway would like to thank and show appreciation to Mishelle Downtain, Vernon's Recreation Director as well as the Recreation Committee. The Viking Snowshoe Invasion was a success with 91 participants. This is the third year for this event with the most participants ever.

Council Member Murphy commented that Vernon's Tax Assessor Kristen Umansky was extremely helpful with providing the Board of Education information that they needed.

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 Weller with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: March 30, 2020