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

Minutes: May 11, 2015

YouTube video of the May 11, 2015 council meeting »

The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 11, 2015 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Patrick Rizzuto presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 4, 2015, 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 of Members

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel and Council President Patrick Rizzuto. Also present were Administrator Bill Zuckerman, and Township Attorney John Ursin.

Salute to the Flag

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

Moment of Silence

Council President Rizzuto asked for a moment of silence for NYC Police Officer Brian Moore who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Proclamations

Council President Rizzuto requested that Police Chief Randy Mills please come forward. Council President Rizzuto read the following proclamation:

Police Week 2015

WHEREAS, The Congress and President of the United States have designated the week of Sunday, May 10, 2015 through Saturday, May 16, 2015 as National Police Week; and

WHEREAS, The members of the Township of Vernon Police Department play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, It is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices of their law enforcement agency, and that members of our law enforcement agency recognize their duty to serve the people by safeguarding life and property, by protecting them against violence and disorder, and by protecting the innocent against deception and the weak against oppression; and

WHEREAS, The men and women of the Vernon Township Police Department unceasingly provide a vital service.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Council President Patrick Rizzuto, Mayor Marotta and the Vernon Township Council do hereby proclaim that the week of May 10, 2015 through May 16, 2015 is designated as Police Week in the Township of Vernon and call upon all citizens and patriotic civic and educational organizations to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and observances in which all of our community may join in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who, by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities, have rendered a dedicated service to their communities and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey on this 11th day of May, two thousand fifteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Council President Rizzuto requested that Bob Constantine and the members of the Wallkill Valley VFW 8441 please come forward. Council President Rizzuto read the following proclamation:

Chief Mills thanked the Township Council for their recognition of the Police Department especially in times like these.

Buddy Poppy Month—May 2015

WHEREAS, The annual distribution of Buddy Poppies by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has been officially recognized and endorsed by governmental leaders since 1922; and

WHEREAS, Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled veterans, and the proceeds of this worthy fund-raising campaign are used exclusively for the benefit of disabled and needy veterans, and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of the sale of Buddy Poppies by the Veterans of Foreign Wars is eloquently reflected in the desire to “honor the dead by helping the living.” The 2015 Buddy Poppy Drive is being held during the month of May; and

WHEREAS, The Wallkill Valley VFW 8441 and its Ladies Auxiliary promote the sale of the Buddy Poppy throughout the Township; and

WHEREAS, We urge all patriotic citizens to wear a Buddy Poppy as a symbol of gratitude to the men and women of this country who have risked their lives in defense of the freedoms which we continue to enjoy as American citizens.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Council President Pat Rizzuto, Mayor Marotta and the Vernon Township Council do hereby proclaim that May 2015 is Buddy Poppy Month in Vernon Township. We hereby urge the citizens of this community to recognize the merits of this cause by contributing generously to this invaluable program.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey on this 11th day of May, two thousand fifteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Memorial Day 2015

Council President Rizzuto requested that Bob Constantine and the members of the Wallkill Valley VFW 8441 remain and that John Harrigan and the members of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans to please come forward. Council President Rizzuto read the following proclamation:

WHEREAS, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, while it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of Memorial Day, President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, proclaimed that Waterloo, NY was officially the birthplace of Memorial Day; and

WHEREAS, regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear—Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed; and

WHEREAS, on the first Decoration Day, at Arlington National Cemetery, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there; and

WHEREAS, after World War I the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war; and

WHEREAS, it is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Council President Patrick Rizzuto, Mayor Marotta and the Vernon Township Council do hereby honor our service men and women, from every branch of the service, who have served in all the nation’s wars for their enduring dedication to the preservation of America and our way of life.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey on this 11th day of May, two thousand fifteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

John F. McGowan

Council President Rizzuto requested that John F. McGowan and his family please come forward. Council President Rizzuto read the following proclamation:

WHEREAS, it is a pleasure and honor to recognize citizens in our community for their special actions and continuing service; and

WHEREAS, there are many that step forward in dedication and commitment to provide service above oneself in the daily life of our community; and

WHEREAS, John F. McGowan has unselfishly devoted 30 years of continuous service to the Board of Education of the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, John, a graduate of Seton Hall University, Vietnam Combat Veteran as well as Infantry Sgt. has also served as the President of the Board of Education and provided strong and effective leadership. John is also an active supporter of Vernon High School’s Athletics Program.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Council President Patrick Rizzuto, Mayor Marotta and the Vernon Township Council on behalf all citizens in our community, take this opportunity to honor John F. McGowan for his continued service and dedication to the residents of the Township of Vernon. We all thank John and wish him much health and success in all of his future endeavors.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey on this 11th day of May, two thousand fifteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Mr. McGowan thanked the Council for the proclamation.

Public Comment

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Brian Lynch
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Catherine Whitte, Aspen Woods questioned Ordinance 15-12 and the fines on the property asking how persons would know if there were fines on a property. Attorney Ursin explained the fines would be reported to the tax collector, like other liens.

Jackie Espinoza of JCP&L advised that the tree crews from Nelson were in the area for tree trimming. Ms. Espinoza stated if there were any issues to please contact her office.

Closed to Public Comments

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Brian Lynch
Second: Dick Wetzel
All members were in favor.

Mayor’s Report

  • Mayor Marotta was not present. Administrator Zuckerman advised the Township had finally received the dump truck and snow plow. Administrator Zuckerman advised that the Township’s new street sweeper was en route and the Township was renting one in the interim.
  • Administrator Zuckerman stated the Township had begun the analysis of the cost of the Health Department and will provide the details when completed. Council Member Murphy stated she had inquired that whether bringing back the Health Department could be an exemption that fell outside the CAP and she had been advised it may fall out of the CAP.

Approval of Minutes

It was moved and seconded as noted below to approve the following minutes:

Work Session Minutes of March 30, 2015

Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Jean Murphy

Council Member Kadish abstained. All other members voted in favor to approve minutes.

Motion carried to approve minutes.

Items for Discussion

Council President Rizzuto stated that the Township had received a resolution supporting steps by New Jersey Officials to protect and support Federal Military Bases as the Federal Government had been relocating bases away from New Jersey.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to support this resolution and place it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Moved: Jean Murphy
Seconded: Dick Wetzel

Council President Rizzuto expressed concern that in light of the response time on 9-11 what would happen if New Jersey’s military bases were closed. Council Member Lynch expressed concern with politicians getting involved in military base closures noting New Jersey is at ground zero and the bases in New Jersey are needed. Council Member Murphy stated that she had learned about the BRAC process at a freeholder meeting, noting that New Jersey was not prepared to retain what was here when the previous closings had gone through. Council Member Wetzel expressed concern about the effects on the local economy if Picatinny Arsenal was to close.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion passed to support the resolution and place it on the agenda for the next meeting.

Council President Rizzuto gave a brief explanation of the Resolution in Support of Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority’s (SCMUA) Opposition to a proposed Amendment to the Sussex County Solid Waste Management Plan.

Council Member Murphy questioned if this would affect the MUA. Attorney Ursin indicated it would not as this was part of SCMUA’s solid waste budget not wastewater budget. Attorney Ursin stated under normal circumstances creating competition and lowering prices is a good idea. However, he noted in this case the tax payers subsidize the land fill so lowering the revenue and creating competition could negatively affect the county tax payers. Council President Rizzuto noted that SCMUA was opposed to the amendment.

Council President Rizzuto asked if the Township would like to develop and support a resolution on this issue. Council President Rizzuto stated he would like to oppose the amendment to the solid waste plan.

Council President Rizzuto requested a motion to develop a resolution in opposition to the proposed Amendment to the Sussex County Solid Waste Management Plan.

Moved: Patrick Rizzuto
The motion died for lack of a second.

Consent Agenda

Council President Rizzuto gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #15-88 - #15-94.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to adopt Resolutions #15-88 - #15-94.

Moved: Dick Wetzel
Seconded: Brian Lynch

Council Member Lynch commented on resolution 15-88, thanking Clerk Kirkman for the phenomenal job she is doing in the Clerk’s office. Council Member Kadish asked what alternative there was to rejecting the bids in resolution 15-90. Council Member Kadish commented that he felt the engineer’s estimate was on the low side. Administrator Zuckerman noted the Township would review the specifications to further assess the needs presented.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Resolutions #15-88 - #15-94 were adopted.

Resolution #15-88: Recognizing Municipal Clerk’s Week

WHEREAS, a Municipal Clerk is a professional who provides continuity in government from administration to administration, seeing to it that the business of local government continues uninterrupted while providing experienced and dedicated public service to the governing body, colleagues and residents; and

WHEREAS, one of the oldest positions of public servants in local government, the Municipal Clerk’s Office was established when the early colonists came to America and began setting up forms of local government; and

WHEREAS, a Municipal Clerk has core duties prescribed by state statute, including but not limited to 1) acting as secretary to the municipal corporation; 2) acting as secretary to the governing body; 3) serving as chief administrative officers in all elections; 4) serving as chief registrar of voters in their municipality; 5) serving as the administrative officer responsible for accepting and issuing various licenses and permits; 6) serving as coordinator and records manager; and 7) performing other such duties as are imposed by statute, regulation of municipal ordinance or resolution; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of Municipal Clerk’s Week (May 3-9, 2015), the Municipal Council of the Township of Vernon wishes to recognize its Municipal Clerk, Lauren Kirkman, and her staff for their outstanding services with which they provide to our community.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that while recognizing the importance of its role and functions of the Municipal Clerk’s Office and the impact it has on the public, that is salutes its Municipal Clerk and the Clerk’s Office for their dedication and commitment to Vernon Township’s local government; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Municipal Council of the Township of Vernon recognizes all New Jersey’s Municipal Clerks and their staff members for their service to their respective local governments and calls upon other communities to join them in recognizing their Municipal Clerks and staff members the week of Municipal Clerk’s Week, May 3-9, 2015.

Resolution #15-89: Chapter 159 Resolution Requesting Approval of Revenue and Appropriation Amending the 2015 Budget as a Revenue and Appropriation of $100,747.15

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:4-87 provides that the Director of the Division of Local Government Services may approve the insertion of any special item of revenue in the budget of any county or municipality when such item shall have been made available by law and the amount thereof was not determined at the time of the adoption of the budget; and

WHEREAS, said Director may also approve the insertion of an item of appropriation for an equal amount; and

WHEREAS, the Township has been awarded an additional $100,747.15 Highlands Plan Conformance Grant from the State of New Jersey Solid Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council; and wishes to amend its 2015 budget for this amount as a revenue.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon hereby requests the Director of the Division of Local Government Services to approve the insertion of an item of revenue in the budget of the year 2015 in the sum of $100,747.15 which is now available as a revenue from the State of New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a like sum of $100,747.15 is hereby appropriated under the caption Highlands Plan Conformance Grant.

Resolution #15-90: Resolution Authorizing Township Council to Reject All Bids for the Vernon Township Police Department Impound Building

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon publicly advertised for bids in accordance with the Local Public Contracts Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1, et seq. to Construct an Impound Building for the Vernon Township Police Department; and

WHEREAS, on the publicly advertised bid date of April 7, 2015 @ 10:00 a.m., the Township accepted bids from the three (3) following vendors: Wallkill Group Inc. and Zitone Construction & Supply Co. Inc. and DIY Pole Barns & Supplies; and

WHEREAS, in a memo dated April 21, 2015, the Township Engineer states upon review of the bids received, the bids from Wallkill Group Inc. and Zitone Construction & Supply Co. Inc were deemed acceptable but both were over the project budget and the bid from DIY Pole Barns & Supplies was non-conforming due to lack of required submittal documents and therefore recommends the bids be rejected; and

WHEREAS, the Local Public Contracts Law, specifically N.S.J.A.40A:11-13.2 (b) authorizes the Township to reject the bids received for these reasons.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, that it hereby accepts and approves the Township Engineer’s recommendations to reject all bids for the Construction of the Impound Building for the Vernon Township Police Department in accordance with the Local Public Contracts Law and the reasons set forth in this Resolution.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Township Clerk is hereby authorized and directed on behalf of the Township to return any bid bonds submitted by the vendors in accordance with the latest bid proposal submission.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately.

Resolution #15-91: Authorizing Placement of a Banner Across Breakneck Road for Christ Community Church

WHEREAS, Vernon Christ Community Church has requested permission from the Township Council to place a banner across Breakneck Road for Vacation Bible School to be held July 13th - 17th; and

WHEREAS, Christ Community Church requests to place a banner sign measuring 3’x 18’ in a designated location across Breakneck Road within Vernon Township; and

WHEREAS, the applicant requests to display the banner for a time period of 30 days and will promptly remove the banner after the time period expires; and

WHEREAS, the Township Code Enforcement Officer has advised that pursuant to the Vernon Township Code 330-180 that the placing of a banner sign of this size and character requires permission of the Council for their placement and waiver of fees.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, that Christ Community Church is granted permission to place a banner across Breakneck Road effective immediately for thirty days provided all other requirements of Township Code 330-180 are followed.

Resolution #15-92: Authorizing Placement of Signs in Various Locations for Vernon Chamber of Commerce

WHEREAS, Vernon Chamber of Commerce has requested permission from the Township Council to place multiple signs within Vernon Township to promote the Vernon Merchant Street Fair scheduled for May 23rd; and

WHEREAS, Vernon Chamber of Commerce requests to place multiple signs, measuring 14"x 20" in designated locations within Vernon Township; and

WHEREAS, the applicant requests to display the signs for a time period of 12 days beginning immediately after council approval and will promptly remove them after time period expires; and

WHEREAS, the Township Code Enforcement Officer has advised that pursuant to the Vernon Township Code 330-180 that the placing of multiple signs of this size and character requires permission of the Council for their placement and waiver of fees.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, that Vernon Chamber of Commerce is granted permission to place signs at various locations within Vernon Township effective immediately for thirty days provided all other requirements of Township Code 330-180 are followed.

Resolution #15-93: Authorizing the Application for New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Recreational Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities Grant

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon desires to apply for and obtain a grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, for approximately $14,400.00 State share with $3,600.00 local share for a total contract of $18,000.00 for 2015/2016 to provide therapeutic horse back riding recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Township of Vernon does hereby authorize the application for such a grant; and upon receipt of the grant agreement from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, does further authorize the execution of the agreement; and also, upon receipt of the fully executed agreement from the Department, does further authorize the expenditure of such funds pursuant to the terms of said Agreement between the Township of Vernon and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the persons whose names, titles and signatures appear below are authorized to sign the application, the agreement and any other documents necessary in connection therewith:

Township of Vernon

Resolution #15-94: Extending the Existing Contract to Air Group for Preventative Maintenance for the HVAC System Located in the Vernon Township Municipal Building

WHEREAS, there exists a need for regularly scheduled preventative maintenance for the HVAC system located in the Vernon Township Municipal Building, and;

WHEREAS, Air Group was contracted for these services during the contract period of May 1, 2014 through April 31, 2015, Resolution #14-167; and

WHEREAS, Air Group’s pricing for said services did not increase; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent recommends exercising the Township’s right to extend the contract for an additional year not to exceed twenty-four (24) months pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-15, contract term of May 1, 2015 through April 31, 2016 ; and

WHEREAS, the Chief Financial Officer pursuant to NJAC 5:30-5.5(b) has certified that these funds are available; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, the Mayor, Clerk and CFO are authorized to extend a contract with Air Group, One Prince Road, Whippany, NJ 07981, not to exceed $7680.00.

Introduction/1st Reading of Ordinances

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-14 by title:

Ordinance #15-14: An Ordinance to Authorize Acquisition of an Easement Relating to Existing Sewer Mains from the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway Corporation

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to table this ordinance until the Township’s next meeting on May 28, 2015 as the Township was still waiting for an opinion letter on this matter.

Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried to table Ordinance #15-14 until the next meeting to be held on May 28, 2015.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-15 by title:

Ordinance #15-15: 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 Block 103.01, Lot 22

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #15-15 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried to introduce Ordinance #15-15 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-16 by title:

Ordinance #15-16: Bond Ordinance Appropriating $1,534,557, and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,266,625 Bonds or Notes of the Township, for Various Improvements or Purposes Authorized to Be Undertaken by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #15-16 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried to introduce Ordinance #15-16 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-17 by title:

Ordinance #15-17: Ordinance Providing for the Improvement of Various Roads in and by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, Appropriating $169,000 Therefor, Constituting Proceeds of Obligations of the Township Heretofore Issued

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #15-17 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried to introduce Ordinance #15-17 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-18 by title:

Ordinance #15-18: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon in the County of Sussex, New Jersey Authorizing the Purchase of Various Equipment and Repairs in, by and for the Township Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56-1 and Appropriating Therefore the Sum of $154,000.00 and Providing That Such Sum So Appropriated Shall Be Raised from the Capital Improvement Fund Account of the Township

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #15-18 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried to introduce Ordinance #15-18 with a public hearing to be held on May 28, 2015.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-11 by title only.

Ordinance #15-11: An Ordinance Extending Lease Agreement between the Vernon Township Board of Education and the Township of Vernon, and Sub-Lease Agreement between the Township of Vernon and the Dog Owners Gathering Society of Vernon Township, Inc., for Certain Unimproved Real Property Identified on the Official Tax Maps of the Township of Vernon as Block 133, Lot 2.05

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the public hearing on Ordinance #15-11.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dick Wetzel
All members were in favor.

There was no comment from the public.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public hearing.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to adopt ordinance #15-11.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None

Motion carried to pass Ordinance 15-11.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-12 by title only.

Ordinance #15-12: An Ordinance Amending Chapter 447 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Property Maintenance”

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the public hearing on Ordinance #15-12.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Rachel Hendricks of the Sussex County Board of Realtors thanked the Council for the revision to the ordinance, but expressed concern that this could be an impediment to the sale of a property. Ms. Hendricks stated that a $1500 fine per day could cause an impediment and wondered if the Council would consider a cap. Township Attorney John Ursin stated that the language is from the State Statute, it is not automatic. Attorney Ursin further explained that fines are then reviewed by the municipal Court Judge who makes the decisions. Attorney Ursin indicated the goal here is to ensure compliance not to raise money. Attorney Ursin explained the same type of fines are in the fire code and the UCC, again to ensure compliance. Attorney Ursin stated the majority of properties would have nominal fines and then compliance. Attorney Ursin explained it is only a situation that is a threat to health and safety and welfare and well being of the neighborhood where the creditor did not respond for whatever reason; leaving it (the fine) open ended gives the Judge the hammer needed to make the determination. Attorney Ursin explained the structure set up was not done by this Council but by the State legislature. Ms. Hendricks asked at what point would a person know there is a fine. Attorney Ursin explained it is multi-stepped process developed to secure compliance. Attorney Ursin stated a house is in foreclosure, the grass is 20 inches high and there are rats active in the yard; the neighbors come to the Township, typically several warning letters are sent by the municipal official and if it goes unheeded, a summons is issued. Attorney Ursin explained that municipal court summonses can only be sent to someone in the State. Attorney Ursin continued that the real importance is that the bank has to appoint someone for “in state” service so that person can receive the summons. Attorney Ursin explained in his example so the grass would be cut and the exterminator would be hired. Attorney Ursin state the Judge typically gives a nominal fine if it [the issue] is fixed; if it is not, or continues the fine is larger. If they do not pay the fine Attorney Ursin continued, it becomes a lien if it is adopted by the Council and it is recorded against the property in the tax collector’s office. Prior to being recorded, it is an individual municipal fine against the entity. Ms. Hendricks expressed concern about agents doing the work. Attorney Ursin explained real estate agents are not maintenance companies, as contemplated by this law, that are corporate representatives; it is typically an executive, lawyer or accountant of the bank. Ms. Hendricks questioned how this would be enforced fairly. Attorney Ursin stated that you trust your code enforcement official to administer this, but with all officials there is always a check and balance; in this case, it is the Municipal Court Judge. Attorney Ursin explained you hire someone to be independent and fair but the Judge is the check and balance and even the Judge can be appealed as this is a judicial process. Ms. Hendricks asked which properties would be focused on. Council President Rizzuto stated it would be in response to complaints from neighbors as many people have come to the Township regarding these issues. Council President Rizzuto stated this was not to create hardship and he expected this would be welcome; it was not a hammer to punish. Council Member Murphy stated she was hopeful code enforcement would address occupied homes that are routinely not maintained. Council Member Wetzel stated he had someone call him about buzzards from a dumpster and a second complaint was a person throwing garbage in the yard. Council Member Wetzel noted these have nothing to do with foreclosed properties and when he was faced with these issues he referred it to the Business Administrator who then referred it to the Board of Health and Zoning Officer. Ms. Hendricks asked if the Township has considered maintaining properties. Attorney Ursin stated that question is not contemplated by this ordinance. Attorney Ursin stated the Township has authority under health and safety to take corrective maintenance.

Gary Martinsen stated he realized this was a condensed version of the previous ordinance but that a discussion was promised. Mr. Martinsen said people volunteered for the property maintenance committee and he stated there should still be a public work session regarding this. Mr. Martinsen said that he noticed in other townships normally there is two (2) criteria before the township can consider it. Council President Rizzuto noted this ordinance was about out of state agents. Mr. Martinsen objected to Council President Rizzuto making a comment. Mr. Martinsen said that in other towns’ maintenance money is all broken out and only utilized for certain items.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public hearing.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dick Wetzel
All members were in favor.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to adopt ordinance #15-12.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Seconded: Dick Wetzel

Council Member Kadish stated he felt the fine was prohibitive and he did not like the notice section of the ordinance. Council Member Kadish stated he did not like “any other designee” and he felt that health and safety issues are addressed by other parts of the code. Council Member Kadish stated he felt the Council should have met to further discuss the ordinance and that he liked Ordinance 15-12 better than the previous version,15-07.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: Dan Kadish

Motion carried to pass Ordinance 15-12.

Council President Rizzuto read Ordinance #15-13 by title only.

Ordinance #15-13: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon in the County of Sussex, New Jersey Authorizing the Purchase of Various Equipment and Repairs in, by and for the Township Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56-1 and Appropriating Therefore the Sum of $80,000.00 and Providing That Such Sum So Appropriated Shall Be Raised from the Capital Fund Balance Account of the Township

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the public hearing on Ordinance #15-13.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Seconded: Brian Lynch
All members were in favor.

Gary Martinsen stated he did not see an addendum for this ordinance. Mr. Martinsen stated he felt the amount of money being spent on the computers, $45,000, was excessive. Mr. Martinsen questioned the game plan for replacing computers. Council President Rizzuto stated that the computers are being replaced as the Township is utilizing an operating system that is no longer supported. Administrator Zuckerman stated 25 computers were being replaced as well as some servers. Mr. Martinsen stated that he felt it was a lot of money. Council Member Murphy stated that the amount of computers in the draft budget was less than that in the final budget which is less than that in the ordinance. Administrator Zuckerman explained that was due to ongoing needs assessments done by our in house IT person as well as the IT team from the Board of Education. Administrator Zuckerman stated as an in depth review was completed the amount needed changed from the time of the budget to the present.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public hearing.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Seconded: Dick Wetzel
All members were in favor.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to adopt ordinance #15-13.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Seconded: Brian Lynch

Council Member Murphy questioned the pick-up trucks use. Administrator Zuckerman stated it would be used between DPW and fire prevention. The Council discussed the use of the vehicle.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None

Motion carried to pass Ordinance 15-13.

Council Comments

Council Member Murphy stated that on ordinance 15-12, the property maintenance ordinance, that several years ago some of the fines became so excessive that they had to be negotiated. Council Member Murphy stated that could be the cause of some apprehension. Council Member Murphy questioned the outcome of the investigation from the County for the fire at Camp Sussex. Administrator Zuckerman stated he was not aware of the outcome. Council Member Murphy stated she had requested a letter from the current fire official regarding the removal of the fines/penalties for Camp Sussex. Council Member Murphy stated the letter she received did not state that and she is still waiting for the letter showing they came off.

Council Member Kadish requested that Mr. Ursin’s comments to the Realtors be recorded verbatim. Council Member Kadish stated he thought the information received was important. Council President Rizzuto stated it is already recorded.

Council Member Lynch had no comments.

Council Member Wetzel had no comments.

Council President Rizzuto asked residents to watch the traffic when driving in the streets as the weather was getting warm and children are out playing.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Lynch, seconded by Council Member Wetzel with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: June 22, 2015