Minutes: November 9, 2020

YouTube video of the November 9, 2020 council meeting »

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on November 9, 2020 via Zoom Webinar 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 on November 5, 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.

Council President Shortway made a motion to have Andrew Pitsker remain on the Township Council until Sussex County has the election votes certified, seconded by Vice President Auberger.
Moved: Harry Shortway
Second: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: Pitsker
Absent: None
Motion carried to have Andrew Pitsker remain on the Township Council until Sussex County has the election votes certified.

Swearing In of Andrew Pitsker to the Township Council

Mayor Burrell administered the Oath of Office to Andrew Pitsker to the Township Council.

Council Member Pitsker thanked all of the voters who voted for him and to his family for supporting. He thanked the Town Council for their advice and guidance and to the Mayor and employees who quickly got him up to speed.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members John Auberger, Jean Murphy, Andrew Pitsker, Kelly Weller and Council President Shortway. Also present were Mayor Howard Burrell, Business Administrator Charles Voelker and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

Salute to the Flag

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

Public Comments (For Current Agenda Items Only, Limited to 3 minutes per person)

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

Seeing no members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Minutes

1) October 15, 2020 Regular Meeting

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve October 15, 2020 meeting minutes.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve the October 15, 2020 meeting minutes.

2) October 26, 2020 Executive Session
October 26, 2020 Regular Meeting

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve October 26, 2020 regular and Executive Session meeting minutes.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: Auberger
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve the October 26, 2020 regular and Executive Session meeting minutes.

Resolutions

Resolution #20-230: Resolution Authorizing Award of Bid 7-2020 Vernon Crossing Pathway Excavation and Paving to D.S. Meyer Enterprises LLC

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-230.
Moved: Jean Murphy
Second: John Auberger

Council Member Murphy asked what account the funds are coming from.

Administrator Voelker answered saying that this is a Capital Project.

Council Member Pitsker explained that we had to do something for the VFW disabled Veterans to be ADA compliant for the pathways around Veterans Park. We are expanding the pathways from three feet to eight feet around the park.

Administrator Voelker explained we did 1/2 of this project from the parking lot to the playground 2 years ago and this is the other half.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-230.

Resolution #20-230: Resolution Authorizing Award of Bid 7-2020 Vernon Crossing Pathway Excavation and Paving to D.S. Meyer Enterprises LLC

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon public received bids for Bid 7-2020 Vernon Crossing Pathway Excavation and Paving on October 30, 2020 at 9:00 A.M. having legally advertised and received in accord with the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1)in a Fair and Open Manner (N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.4 et seq.,) and

WHEREAS, the Township received three (3) bids to wit:

BID 7-2020

 D. S. Meyer Enterprises, LLCPaving Materials and Contracting, LLCFerraro Construction Corporation
LUMP SUM$24,120.00$51,387.00$63,162.00
SNACK BAR AREA$4,500.00$4,500.00$29,893.00
TOTAL BID$28,620.00$55,887.00$93,055.00

And

WHEREAS, D.S. Meyer Enterprises LLC provided for the lowest responsible bid in accord with N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et. Seq., in the amount of $28,620.00; and

WHEREAS the Chief Financial Officer certifies funding is available in the amount of $28,620.00.00 through: Account # C-04-20-011-00.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Bid 7-2020 Vernon Crossing Pathway Excavation and Paving is hereby awarded to D. S. Meyer Enterprises, LLC 34 Maple Avenue Waldwick in the amount of $28,620.00: and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, that the Mayor is hereby authorized to enter into a contract with D. S. Meyer Enterprises, LLC 34 Maple Avenue Waldwick New Jersey provide for the services as provided for in Bid 7-2020.

Resolution #20-231: Authorizing to Donate Outdated Municipally Owned Fire Gear to “The 911 Fund, Inc.”

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-231.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller

Council Member Murphy asked if anyone was going to complain about Vice President Auberger voting on this.

Township Attorney Zielinski said he cannot see anyone complaining about this.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-231.

Resolution #20-231: Authorizing to Donate Outdated Municipally Owned Fire Gear to “The 911 Fund, Inc.”

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has fifty-three sets of Fire gear which is outdated or no longer needed for public use; and

WHEREAS, the Township would like to request approval from the governing body to dispose of the Fire gear and donate it to The 911 FUND, Inc., and

WHEREAS, The 911 Fund, Inc. was created in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001 by former members of the FDNY to collect and then donate equipment to firefighters and emergency service workers internationally as a continuing effort to build preparedness, reduce risk, enhance civilian safety and minimize property loss from fires and all types of disasters; and

WHEREAS, all donations received are accepted on an “AS IS” basis and the complete understand of zero liability or responsibility for the equipment’s condition and all efforts by members of The 911 Fund are voluntary and unpaid.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that authorization is given to the Fire Marshal to dispose of the various outdated fire gear and donate said gear to The 911 Fund, Inc.

This resolution will take effect immediately according to law.

Resolution #20-232: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4808709-Color Blue Metallic

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-232.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

Council President Shortway asked if these were police cars or fire cars.

Administrator Voelker explained that these are for the police department.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-232.

Resolution #20-232: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4808709-Color Blue Metallic

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, State of New Jersey as follows:

WHEREAS, the governing body of Vernon Township approved in Resolution 19-164 authorizing leasing of certain vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services, Inc., and this is an extension of that resolution; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the requirements of the Local Public Contract Law P.L. 2011, C.139 (the “Law” or “Chapter 139” and N.J.S.A.52:34-6.2 the regulations promulgated there under in Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10, the following purchase without competitive bids from vendor with a National Cooperative Contract is hereby approved for municipalities, and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has the need to procure certain vehicles through lease program for Township services in accord with the Local Publics Contract Law N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et. Seq., and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has previously acted in accord with New Jersey public procurement statutes and regulations as promulgated by formally joining a recognized and compliant national cooperative, being the Sourcewell National Cooperative, and;

WHEREAS, the regulations as set forth within Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10 have been fully complied with, and;

WHEREAS, the equipment and corresponding Sourcewell National Cooperative contract is #060618-EFM for Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc.; and

WHEREAS, the cost savings determination as required under LFN 2012-10 is the cost of contract as there is currently no cooperative lease program in effect under the New Jersey Division of Purchase and Property; and

WHEREAS, the quoted cost under the Sourcewell National contract for one vehicle is $35,204.40 (Quote No. 4808709); and

WHEREAS, 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; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Business Administrator is hereby directed to effectuate the contract with Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. under Sourcewell contract #060618-EFM in accord with the provisions of the tenets as established within 40A:11-1 et seq.

Resolution #20-233: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4808073-Color Antimatter Blue Metallic)

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-233.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-233.

Resolution #20-233: Resolution Authorizing Leasing of Certain Vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. (Quote No. 4808073-Color Antimatter Blue Metallic)

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, State of New Jersey as follows:

WHEREAS, the governing body of Vernon Township approved in Resolution 19-164 authorizing leasing of certain vehicles through Sourcewell National Cooperative #060618-EFM through Enterprise Fleet Management Services, Inc., and this is an extension of that resolution; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with the requirements of the Local Public Contract Law P.L. 2011, C.139 (the “Law” or “Chapter 139” and N.J.S.A.52:34-6.2 the regulations promulgated there under in Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10, the following purchase without competitive bids from vendor with a National Cooperative Contract is hereby approved for municipalities, and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has the need to procure certain vehicles through lease program for Township services in accord with the Local Publics Contract Law N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et. Seq., and;

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has previously acted in accord with New Jersey public procurement statutes and regulations as promulgated by formally joining a recognized and compliant national cooperative, being the Sourcewell National Cooperative, and;

WHEREAS, the regulations as set forth within Local Finance Notice LFN 2012-10 have been fully complied with, and;

WHEREAS, the equipment and corresponding Sourcewell National Cooperative contract is #060618-EFM for Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc.; and

WHEREAS, the cost savings determination as required under LFN 2012-10 is the cost of contract as there is currently no cooperative lease program in effect under the New Jersey Division of Purchase and Property; and

WHEREAS, the quoted cost under the Sourcewell National contract for one vehicle is $23,269.92 (Quote No. 4808709); and

WHEREAS, 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; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Business Administrator is hereby directed to effectuate the contract with Enterprise Fleet Management Services Inc. under Sourcewell contract #060618-EFM in accord with the provisions of the tenets as established within 40A:11-1 et seq.

Resolution #20-234: Transfer Resolution-Balance Transfers

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve Resolution #20-234.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: John Auberger

Council Member Murphy asked what specifically the $20,000 is for.

Administrator Voelker explained that it is for the Town Center project. We have to refile with the State a new plan.

Council President Shortway asked if this is so we do not lose Town Center designation.

Administrator Voelker said that is correct.

Council Member Murphy asked how often do they make us do this.

Mayor Burrell said he does not know the exact date of the last time it was applied for but he can find out.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve Resolution #20-234.

Resolution #20-234: Transfer Resolution-Balance Transfers

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon Municipal 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 (2020 Municipal Budget) in accordance with N.J.S.A 40A-58/59 are hereby approved.

ACCOUNTTRANSFER OUTTRANSFER IN
FROM CURRENT FUND:
FLEET MANAGEMENT - OE10,000.00 
VES-CLOTHING ALLOWANCE1,800.00 
LEGAL SERVICES - OE25,000.00 
   
TO CURRENT FUND:
GENERAL ADMINISTRATION - O/E (PLANNER) $20,000.00
VES-GLENWOOD POCHUCK AMBULANCE MAT&SUPP $1,800.00
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS - O/E $15,000.00
   
TOTAL TRANSFERS$36,800.00$36,800.00

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Ordinance #20-21: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 250, Article II Entitled “Fees and Escrows Enumerated” to Update Fees for Certified Copies and to Codify Fees for Vital Statistics

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-21.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #20-21.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Kelly Weller

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #20-21.

Ordinance #20-22: An Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending Chapter 484 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled “Soil Fill Placement”

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #20-22.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #20-22.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Auberger, Murphy, Pitsker, Weller, Shortway
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #20-22.

Public Hearing/2nd Reading of Ordinances

Ordinance #20-20: Capital Ordinance Providing for Various Improvements by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, Appropriating Therefore the Sum of $37,000 and Providing That Such Sum So Appropriated Shall Be Raised from the Capital Improvement Fund of the Township

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

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

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to adopt Ordinance #20-20.
Moved: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller

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

Public Comments (Limited to 3 Minutes On Any Topic)

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to opened the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Jessi Paladini - Vernon Township, feels that Jean Murphy is correct. Ms. Paladini feels that John Auberger is in conflict for voting on the Fire Department equipment. She suggests that he rescinds his vote so there will not be a complaint filed against him with the State. Ms. Paladini said that the same rules apply and you cannot vote to give away fire department equipment because he is a member of the Fire Department.

Ms. Paladini explained for the record that Mayor Burrell and this Council owes her a public apology for framing her, falsely accusing her and harassing her. Ms. Paladini said she never harassed anyone or any volunteers. There are a few people who came forward to claim that she did and it is not a joke, it is her reputation and credibility you are attempting to destroy. Ms. Paladini feel that this has nothing to do with anybody, it has to do with an illegal solid waste dump that you now know from David Ongaro’s report that everything she has been saying for months is true. Mr. Ongaro came up and discovered the buried solid waste, the wetlands violations and the buried asphalt, all of which is in his report. Ms. Paladini said none of this would have to happen if Mayor Burrell would have done his job and met with her and looked at the photos she had. Ms. Paladini said wrongdoing will always be reported to the state.

Sandra Ooms - Vernon Township, explained that the first elected Mayor of Vernon, Mayor Marotta, would filmed himself and put it on You Tube and also on the town website to speak about town business, would also disparage and bully residents on the videos. The next elected Mayor used his Facebook page to go after people. Mayor Burrell went to the paper and used the town’s Facebook page to disparage and bully a resident. Ms. Ooms feels that each of these administrations keeps getting worse and worse. She said the time that is used disparaging could be used to coming up with ideas and initiative to lower our taxes.

Martin O’Donnell - Vernon Township, is completely shocked by the rhetoric of the last two people. He has been at the hands of bullying and harassment by Ms. Paladini. Ms. O’Donnell feel that she is a narcissistic evil human being. He thinks the Mayor and Council are doing the right thing. Mr. O’Donnell said the Mayor and Council have all been attacked by this woman several times, the same as previous administrations. Mr. O’Donnell personally left the Economic Development Committee because of Ms. Paladini. It was a volunteer position and she made it impossible to enjoy. Mr. O’Donnell complimented the Mayor and Council for the proactive approach with the solid waste dumping on the DPW site. You have been taking action in this site for at least a year. There are some issues at the DPW site and it will cost the town some money but with or without a pump track the town would have had to take action with remediation.

Peg Distasi - Vernon Township, explained that she is a member of the Environmental Commission and she has been requesting, especially in light of the fact that Vernon has become a hot spot in our County, that our Environmental Commission meetings continue as Zoom meetings. We are being led by someone who wants to have them at town hall in person. Ms. Distasi said she has a problem going to public places because of her age as well as health conditions. She does not feel that she should be stopped from doing her duties on the Environmental Commission because the Chair wants to have in person meetings. Ms. Distasi said that nobody else in the town is holding in person meetings and she does not understand why the Environmental Commission has to.

Dan Kraus - Vernon Township, commented that in the past month he has seen a lot of out of towners bid their way into the township which is a nice sign of something being done right. He said that there are very few houses for sale and the ones that are for sale are selling quickly. This is a sign of amazing things. Ms. Kraus said those that are moving in have heard nothing but wonderful things about the town and they want to raise their children here and stay here for many years.

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Andrew Pitsker
Second: Kelly Weller
All members were in favor.

Mayor’s Comments

Mr. Council President and other Council Members, this Wednesday, November 11, is the day that we have set aside / to recognize and honor our nation’s veterans.

Therefore, my comments tonight are made not simply as the Mayor of Vernon Township, but also as one of the 18.8 million veterans currently living in the U.S. today.

Almost 8K of those veterans live in Sussex County, with almost 2K or 25% of them living in Vernon Township.

As I comment briefly on behalf of my fellow veteran brothers and sisters, I want the public to know that when we hear the words, “Thank you for your service,” please know that those few, but powerful words, often bring some light into what for many veterans are days that are often physically, and especially mentally and emotionally dark, due directly or in great part to things that we have experienced in the service of our country.

And while our spirits are heightened by comments such as “Thank you for your service,” the truth is we need more.

For we are the ones who carry, - - and not just for ourselves but for our collective nation as a whole - - we are the ones who carry the mental, emotional, and physical burdens and pains that result from the implementation of decisions that are made by others.

Some of these burdens and pains are very visible and quite apparent. They can be easily seen in the physical strain and toll that war has taken on our bodies.

However, what is often not visible and apparent, are the burdens and pains that we bear as a result of the many mental, moral, and emotional conflicts that are a natural part of war; and, that make it extremely difficult, and even impossible for many of my fellow veterans, to live a normal life without some help from the nation that we have served.

And the help that we need and deserve starts with you, the public, ensuring that we are not forgotten by those elected officials who you put in office; by those elected officials who decide that war is the right response to a particular issue - - you need to make sure that they don’t forget us.

We need for you to specifically ensure that those elected officials know and understand that we veterans consider our nation’s promise to help us deal with the many physical, mental, moral, and emotional burdens that we carry ...

We need for you to specifically ensure that those elected officials know and understand that you share our belief, that this promise that our nation has made to its veterans should not, and cannot, be broken.

This is one way that all Americans can ensure that future Veterans Days, will be better Veterans Days for all U. S. veterans!

Mr. Council President and other Council Members, on tonight, I use a portion of my report to update you and the public on some positive, objective results that serve as additional confirmation that the Mayor and Council are moving in a safe, scientifically supported direction as it relates to our collective decision concerning the location of the proposed Municipal Pump Track amenity.

As you are aware, in support of the long term economic development efforts for our town, it’s our collective belief that the best place to locate this amenity is in the Town Center area, off of Black Creek Drive, where the existence of sewer service lines and capabilities greatly enhances the potential for this amenity to be an attraction for additional needed businesses and services for the residents of our town.

And, in spite of what I have been told is being repeated by a few in some Facebook posts, I have absolutely no reason to believe or conclude that this Black Creek Drive site is nothing more than but one of the many beautiful and safe locations in our township for families and visitors to be able enjoy an amenity such as a Pump Track.

In my previous statements on this matter, I have said that I would not agree to, or approve, any plan that would build a family friendly facility on a site that I believed was not safe.

And that’s a commitment that I will keep. Again, I ask, why would I do otherwise?

In this, as well as any other technical matter faced by our town, where I am authorized to make the decision, I will always be guided by the objective, scientific and technical data that’s made available to me by credible professionals.

Because it’s not in the best interest of our town or its residents, I will not be guided by those few individuals who are the loudest, most frequent, most angry, and the most prolific posters on Facebook and other social media outlets.

And, I am sure that you and the majority of the public understand, why I most certainly will not be guided by the words or Facebook posts of those individuals who have entered into what some have described to me as “an unholy destructive alliance,” with the individual whose toxic waste mountain has done more environmental and image harm to our beautiful town than perhaps anything in our town’s recent history.

The positive, objective results that I spoke of at the beginning of these comments come from an October 27 visit to our town by DEP inspector David Ongaro.

Mr. Ongaro’s visit to the 11.3-acre site, where we plan to use slightly over one acre to build a Municipal Pump Track, was made at the request of the Mayor’s Office.

We made this request after hearing reports that on October 15, 13 days earlier, Mr. Ongaro had visited this piece of town property with Vernon resident Mr. Joe Wallace, who had directed Mr. Ongaro to a specific location on this 11.3-acre site, where Mr. Wallace said materials had been deposited on the site some years ago.

During the October 27 visit that Mr. Ongaro made at the request of the Mayor’s Office, he took a municipal team consisting of the DPW Chief, the Municipal Engineer, the Business Administrator, Council Member Pitsker, and myself, to the specific location where Mr. Wallace had directed him to visit.

He said that prior to the direction of Mr. Wallace, he had not been to this location during his several previous visits to this site.

And, neither had any member of the town’s team that was on this visit been to this location before, because we also had not considered this location to be town property.

The location was an area with some trees, lots of very thick weeds, lots of vines and other heavy vegetation, which made it very difficult to get to and walk through.

In addition, this area sloped approximately 30 ft. down from the elevation of the 11.3-acres of town property where we plan to build the pump track; and, this area is located almost two footballs fields distance from the specific place where we have planned the pump track.

What Mr. Ongaro showed us at this location were some historically deposited debris consisting of an empty, old, rusty oil tank, dozen or tires, some concrete, some plastic pipes, some decaying carpet, and some pressure treated lumber.

While we are not sure that this debris is located on town property, that is not an issue that we have any interest in debating at this time. And now that we have learned about this debris, we have moved forward with determining just what’s required to remove and properly dispose of this debris.

During this visit, I specifically asked Mr. Ongaro if there was anything that he had observed in any way, during this visit or his previous several visits, that gave him any reason to believe that any portion of this 11.3-acres site was “toxic”; his response was a firm “No.”

On a separate occasion during this visit, Council Member Pitsker asked Mr. Ongaro the same question, and he again answered a firm “No.”

In addition, in a follow up discussion with Mr. Ongaro concerning some questions that I had about his report of the October 27 visit, he stated, and I quote: “I did not find any indication of hazardous waste” at this site.

And so, members of the Council and the public, with this additional firm confirmation of the safety of this site, I feel comfortable and confident about the Mayor and Council’s decision to move forward with our plans to locate our Municipal Pump Track amenity on this site, and in the area, where we believe it will join with our planned Walking and Biking Trail project to contribute to the advancement of the economic objectives for our town.

The members of the public who gave us their vote of confidence to lead, expect us to not lose focus; they expect us to act like leaders. And in that regard, as the Mayor of this town, I gladly take what we in the U.S. Military call the lead position, the “point of the spear!”

Council Comments

Council Member Murphy received an email regarding the property the town is planning to purchase for the trail and some of the members of the Open Space Committee met with Bob Canace. Council Member Murphy asked if Bob Canace’s presentation he gave was different than the presentation he gave before.

Council President Shortway explained that he told Bob Canace he should appear before the Council to do another presentation.

Council Member Murphy feels that a presentation for the Council and Public would be good.

Council Member Murphy explained that the documents she has from the County Open Space Committee it stated that the town was in negotiations for a neighboring property which is the Stanhill property. She is trying to understand what the concept is here. Council Member Murphy explained that at the end of 2015 we acquired a large portion of the Stanhill property that went under the PAL Conservatory and was a tax lien foreclosure block 395 lot 1. It was 135 acres. Council Member Murphy also questioned the 107.73 acres which is block 395 lot 5 because it looks like there is discussion about that property also. Council Member Murphy is asking why we would want so many acres. Council Member Murphy asked if the Mayor is aware of all of the acres we own. She doesn’t see a reason to own all of those acres.

Council Member Murphy asked if there was an update on the short term rentals.

Administrator Voelker explained that there was a setback with the Management Company that we hired. They were acquired by another company which left us in disarray with the personnel that was supposed to be working with us. Mr. Voelker explained that we are about two months behind with this but we are back on track now. He explained to the Management Company that the most important thing is to collect the tax money from the people who have been conducting short term rentals since the ordinance went into effect this past February. He was told he will have something to put out to those people who have been actively doing short term rentals.

Mayor Burrell explained that the company we selected is very reputable and they were bought out by another company. Unfortunately, our contact left the company and we were never told. Mayor Burrell thanked the Council and the public for being patient with us.

Council Member Murphy said you can blame the Management Company but where was Administration? She said from what she understands the fire and safety aspects of the short term rentals in not happening either.

Council Member Murphy thanked the County for paving Route 565 because it was long overdue.

Vice President Auberger asked the Township Attorney if there was a problem with him voting on equipment that is being donated, retired turn out gear? He said if there is a problem he will change his vote.

Township Attorney Zielinski said he sees no conflict in Vice President Auberger voting for this.

Vice President Auberger said we do not live in a red or a blue country, we live in a red, white and blue country. He said that regardless of the certification that is done, just try to be a better person, reach out a hand to someone, make a donation to a food bank and this is how this country is going to move forward.

Council Member Weller had no comments this evening.

Council President Pitsker said on Saturday he was driving down Route 94 and he saw a young lady picking up garbage in the middle of the road. She explained to him that she does this on her day off because she does not like how it looks. Council Member Pitsker let the Beautification Committee know about this. She worked for about 2 hours picking up garbage because she doesn’t like how it looks. He personally thanked Victoria Holster and told her to send her email address to him so he can make sure she gets a safety vest from the town. Council Member Pitsker said it was nice to see someone doing something right for a change.

Council Member Pitsker said the Mayor summed up the DPW pump track really good. He said we are stewards of the town and we take responsibility and actions of the past mistakes of others and we are going to do the right thing for Vernon. His question is to those people who pointed this out to us, will you do the right thing and clean up your mess especially the one on Silver Spruce.

Council President Comments

Concurred with Mayor regarding Veterans Day and thanked the Mayor Burrell. Wished US Marines Happy Birthday.

_______________________

In 1986, Vernon fought to keep contaminated dirt out.
THE TALK OF VERNON TOWNSHIP; QUIET TOWN IS NOISY WITH REVOLT
By Robert Hanley, Special to the New York Times

”The dirt is contaminated with radium, a decay product of uranium. Years ago, the dirt was used as fill in Montclair. As radium decays, it emits the radioactive gas radon. State officials plan to blend the tainted soil with fresh gravel in Mr. Baldwin’s quarry. The mixing, they insist, will eliminate dangers. The residents fear otherwise and have demonstrated all summer. The state has court approval to truck the soil here, but has delayed the shipments pending a review of the plan by an independent committee.

Although the town is small, residents say its heart is big.

Since 1983, two residents, have undergone liver transplants in Pittsburgh. Neither could afford the operation. But everybody pitched in to help.

First for two residents, male and female, the town mobilized and staged fund-raising events, from band competitions to softball and baseball marathons with dozens of teams. About $100,000 was raised for the two operations. Both were successful.”

https://www.nytimes.com/1986/08/30/nyregion/the-talk-of-vernon-township-quiet-town-is-noisy-with-revolt.html

This is the Vernon I know and love.

However;

It is outrageous.

Joe Wallace, convicted of environmental violations in NY and who owns and is responsible for the largest toxic waste dump in Vernon’s history has done nothing to remove the toxic soil from our community.

The HPC chairperson - out of revenge is attempting to stop progress of both passive, recreation and economic stability for our residents. Her actions are contrary to the will of the majority of the voters in our town who support the agenda presented by the Mayor and I with council support.

The HPC chairperson’s acts are retaliatory, because as Mayor, I stopped the flow of taxpayer dollars into the Vernon Historical Society. She was and is the residing president. Also, I refused to appoint her to the Land Use Board. She sued the Township and it cost the taxpayers $33,000 to defend my administration from her frivolous claim.

Now, Wallace and the Chairperson are allies to deflect attention from Wallace’s failure to clean up his toxic waste mountain and the Chairperson’s attempt to create hysteria by calling the DPW storage yard a toxic waste dump.

From the DEP website;

Solid waste includes residential, commercial, and institutional solid waste generated within a community, which is termed municipal solid waste, or MSW. Solid waste also includes items such as construction and demolition waste and bulky waste.

Historically, solid waste was disposed of with relatively unsophisticated methods, including the use of local dumps where waste often was stored for long periods of time in the open air. At one time, New Jersey had more than 400 landfills in operation. Many of these old landfills were small, privately-operated sites, and some were poorly managed.

New Jersey’s hazardous waste management regulations parallel the federal hazardous waste regulations that were established through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 and the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984.

Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act (N.J.S.A. 13:1E-99.11) calls for the collection and proper disposal of abandoned or illegally dumped scrap tires, which are potential breeding sites for mosquitoes, and seeks to establish a market development policy and product stewardship principles. Decades ago the DPW storage yard was an active farm.

Code: 227-11 Exemption for farming practices.

Specifically, this chapter shall not be interpreted or enforced so as to interfere with or attempt to impose any restriction or penalty upon any farm operator, procedure, practice or owner. Vernon Township has specifically adopted a Right to Farm Ordinance and recognizes the existence of standard farming practices, and this chapter shall not be interpreted so as to overrule or interfere with said practices

Tires are used in farming practices. It is common for tires to be used to hold down tarps covering silage.

Mike Furrey and I inspected the debris field last Saturday. It is quite large and extends into the adjacent conservatory, hundreds of feet from our storage site. It appears at this time the vast majority of waste is not municipal waste.

Based on the debris field, the approximate age of the hardwood trees in relation to the observed debris and type of debris, the solid waste was discarded by a commercial source using the power line easement for access or simply solid waste used legally on a farm.

The debris is decades old - possibly before solid waste legislation was enacted. Examination of tires found multiple manufacturers and sizes. Many tires would not be suitable for municipal use.

Some of the tires I examined are heavy duty low boy and 13” tires, commonly used for horse trailers, Pintos, Vega’s, Toyota, and Datsun.

The observed solid waste has no effect on the proposed trail or bike pump track because of its location; the proposed amenities are approximately 30 feet above and hundreds of linear feet north of the debris.

The tires and rusting metal represent little safety concern except for mosquitoes. Any seepage would have occurred decade’s age and would need to defy gravity to reach the proposed recreation sites.

It’s simply solid waste that may not be totally on Township Property.

Unfortunately, this type of debris is common throughout our community as a result of the farming industry and the lack of regulations prior to the 1980s. There is even solid waste on the backside of the Black Creek site on Maple Grange Road.

The Vernon Historical Society is the steward of this state owned property. Neither entity has shown any concern for the old farm equipment and car that are probably 60 years’ old that are there rusting away on this site.

This governing body and administration will do the right thing. I thank the HPC Chairperson for bringing this to our attention. I was not aware of this debris as much of it lies partially buried under soil and vegetation.

We will clean the debris up. Unfortunately, it will now have to be done quickly and funded by taxpayer dollars because of the false allegations that created unnecessary alarm.

I conclude with these words, spoken by the Great American, General Colin Powell,

”We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren’t true. It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered”

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 Murphy with all members voting in favor.

The Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:11 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: December 14, 2020