Minutes: October 22, 2018

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on October 22, 2018 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2018 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Van Tassel was not present.

Executive Session

Attorney Zielinski read the Resolution for the Council to enter Executive Session.

Resolution to Go into Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon as follows:

1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter specified subject matter.

2. The general nature of the subject matters to be discussed are:

a. Personnel
b. Litigation

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to go into Executive Session at 6:02 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish
All members of the Council were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

At 7:00 p.m. Council President Murphy asked for a motion to end Executive Session and return to open session.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish
All members present were in favor.

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on October 22, 2018 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2018 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger and Council President Jean Murphy, Mayor Shortway, and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski. Council Member Van Tassel was not present.

Salute to the Flag

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

Proclamation

Council President Murphy invited Members of the VFW and Vietnam Veterans of America to come forward and Mayor Shortway read the Proclamation for Veterans Day.

Veterans Day

Whereas, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans have been purchased and maintained at a high price throughout our history; and

Whereas, since the establishment of the original 13 states, Americans have been willing to fight and die to preserve their individual rights as guaranteed in the United States constitution and the Bill of Rights; and

Whereas, we owe a great debt to those who have served in defense of this nation; and

Whereas, throughout generations, their sacrifices have preserved our unique form of government dedicated to human rights and respect for the individual; and

Whereas, for many, that sacrifice has ended in permanent injury or death, yet their spirit remains in the continued preservation of our freedoms and the promise of liberty established as an example for all the oppressed persons of the world; and

Whereas, in honor of these dedicated men and women, we pledge our continued defense of our nation so that their sacrifice will stand before the entire world as a tribute to the spirit and determination of a people dedicated to the principles of freedom and democracy.

Now therefore be it Proclaimed that, the Vernon Township Council do hereby urge all our citizens to honor our veterans and rededicate themselves to the preservation of our liberties under the Constitution.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, State of New Jersey on this 22nd day of October, 2018 and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

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

Seeing no members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Sandra Ooms
Second: John Auberger
All members voted in favor.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Emergency Meeting Minutes October 10, 2018, Emergency Meeting-Executive Session Minutes October 10, 2018.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve the Emergency Meeting Minutes October 10, 2018, Emergency Meeting-Executive Session Minutes October 10, 2018.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes October 11, 2018, and the Executive Session Minutes of October 11, 2018.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: Dan Kadish
Absent: Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes October 11, 2018, and the Executive Session Minutes of October 11, 2018.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy read the title and gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #18-226 through #18-229.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions#18-226 through #18-229.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: John Auberger

Council Member Ooms questioned if there is a requirement for matching funds from the Township for the Trails grant and if the Township already owns all of the properties for the project. Mayor Shortway explained that if the Township receives the grant, any requirement for matching funds would come before Council for approval. He added that the Township either owns the properties or has easements for the trail project.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to approve Resolutions #18-226 through #18-229.

Resolution #18-226: Authorizing a Date for Municipal Tax Sale

WHEREAS, the governing body of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, desires to collect all taxes, assessments and other municipal charges that are now delinquent; and

WHEREAS, The Tax Collector is directed to sell all municipal delinquencies through December 31, 2017 in a manner prescribed by N.J.S.A. 54:5-19, and as amended by Chapter 99, Public Laws of 1997.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, that the Tax Collector is hereby authorized and directed to sell all municipal liens in accordance with New Jersey law, both as stated above, on Thursday, November 29, 2018 via Electronic Tax Sale.

Resolution #18-227: Authorizing Electronic Tax Sale

WHEREAS, NJSA 54:5-19.1 authorizes electronic tax sales pursuant to rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Director of the Division of Government Services, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has promulgated rules and regulations for electronic tax sales, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has approved NJ Tax Lien Investors/RealAuction.com to conduct electronic tax sales, and

WHEREAS, an electronic tax sale is innovative and provides a greater pool of potential lien buyers, thus creating the environment for a more complete tax sale process, and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon wishes to participate in an electronic tax sale.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, that the Tax Collector is hereby authorized to participate in an electronic tax sale and submit same to the Director of the Division of Local Government Services if necessary.

Resolution #18-228: Authorizing Application and Execution of the “2018 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year End Holiday Crackdown” Grant Administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Police Department wishes to apply for funding from the National Highway Safety Administration “2018 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year End Holiday Crackdown,” Grant; and

WHEREAS, the grant project consists of an enforcement overtime campaign from December 7, 2018 through January 1, 2019 to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, to offer deterrence through visible enforcement, to arrest impaired drivers, and to issue summonses for relevant motor vehicle violations; and

WHEREAS, Vernon Township will initially incur the cost of the program not to exceed $5,500.00 and then will submit the necessary documentation to the Division of Highway Traffic Safety for total reimbursement.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Vernon Township declares its support for the “2018 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year End Holiday Crackdown” Grant from December 7, 2018 through January 1, 2019 to increase awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, that the Mayor, CFO and Township Clerk are hereby authorized to execute and sign any and all documents in order to effectuate the receipt of the Grant monies between the Township of Vernon and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety for the “2018 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year End Holiday Crackdown” Grant.

Resolution #18-229: Approval to Submit a Grant Application and Execute a Grant Contract with the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the Vernon Town Center Bike and Walking Trails - Phase I Project

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Vernon Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey formally approves the grant application for the above stated project.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mayor and Municipal Clerk are hereby authorized to submit an electronic grant application identified as MA-2019- Vernon Town Center Bike & Walking Tr. - 00720 to the New Jersey Department of Transportation on behalf of Vernon Township.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mayor and Municipal Clerk are hereby authorized to sign the grant agreement on behalf of Vernon Township and that their signatures constitute acceptance of the terms and conditions of the grant agreement and approve the execution of the grant agreement.

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Council President Murphy read by title and gave brief explanation Ordinance #18-28.

Ordinance #18-28: Amending Chapter § 250-7 Tax Collector to Include Tax Sale Notice Mailing Cost

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to Introduce Ordinance#18-28 with a public hearing to be held on November 8, 2018.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Dan Kadish

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: Mark Van Tassel
Motion carried to Introduce Ordinance #18-28 with a public hearing to be held on November 8, 2018.

Items for Discussion

Ordinance #18-29: An 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” and Amending Chapter 250 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon to Include Short-Term Rental Property Application Fees

Council President Murphy asked Mayor Shortway to start discussion on proposed Ordinance#18-29. Mayor Shortway explained there are approximately 146 short-term rental properties currently in Vernon which are not inspected for fire safety compliance and have caused residential noise, garbage and parking complaints. Mayor Shortway suggested regulations through passage of the Ordinance is needed for safety reasons and requests Council Members and the public to review Ordinance and provide input to move forward. Although majority of complainants want to ban short-term rentals, Mayor Shortway explained that is not feasible as a four-season community. He explained revenue from the required Zoning permit is favorable but will put additional enforcement work on Township personnel that already in 2018 have added enforcement for the Soil Ordinance, Chicken Ordinance and Vacant Property Ordinance.

Council Member Ooms requested a change in Section 476-5 #2 to correct the department that will be handling enforcement. Mayor Shortway suggested creating a subcommittee to revise the Ordinance from the Council and public’s input. Council Member Kadish expressed favorably of regulations for short-term rentals and suggested requirement to notice all neighbors as in development applications. Mr. Zielinski asked all Council Members to provide all comments and revisions to him by October 29, 2018 to be incorporated in Ordinance for Introduction. Mayor Shortway added Vernon would also benefit from additional revenue from Hotel Occupancy Tax from the rentals.

Public Comments (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

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

John Timchak, stated he was a Lake Panorama Board Member and is employed as accident reconstructionist. Mr. Timchak explained that the reason sign was installed by Association was to prevent further soil erosion onto Township roadway increasing safety for residents. He further objected to requirements from Township Engineer to move sign up the slope by three feet and stated he wants Township to address the matter.

Nancy Rapisardi, Lake Panorama, 17-year resident, commented the Lake Panorama Association funded the repair for the Township wall near the playground in past and questioned why the Township is making the Association remove the beautiful new entrance sign and wall.

Council President Murphy explained to public and the Association that they should deal directly with the Business Administrator as the Council does not have power to address this matter.

Bill Partridge, Lake Panorama, commented he has spoken to Mr. Voelker and shown the survey depicting the area in question. He opined that the retaining wall will hold the rocks and soil from entering roadway. Mr. Partridge opined that the option to move the wall three feet up the hill given to the Association makes no sense. Mr. Partridge added that the Township never addressed the safety aspect in past and noted since wall was installed the drain has been cleared and no ice has accumulated.

Council Member Ooms suggested installation of speed bumps to mitigate safety concerns. Mr. Partridge noted that there is a 200-foot line of sight at intersection, a 25-mph speed limit and telephone poles closer than wall to roadway. He explained he spoke to Zoning Officer LaRocca who must deny the application if submitted per Township Ordinances. Council Member Kadish suggested having roadway turned back to a private road. Mr. Zielinski explained he will discuss with Mr. Voelker and the Township Engineer for status. Mr. Partridge requested that any fines not be assessed as negotiations are ongoing with Administration.

Anthony Anari, Lake Panorama, stated he previously sent a letter and pictures to the Council Members regarding the community wall and sign. He commented that the Lake Panorama issue needs more attention that the three-minute allotment during public comments. Mr. Anari stated in past the Lake Panorama Association gave permission for the Township to install a Cell Tower when needed for the public using the private lake roads. He added the association is very frugal with a limited budget responsible for garbage/recycling collection, snow removal and maintenance of private roadways for the 400 residents. Mr. Anari urged the Township to work together with the Association to allow the beautiful wall and sign.

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Dan Kadish
Second: John Auberger
All members voted in favor

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway read a letter from the Township and the Vernon Environmental Chairperson sent to Senator Bob Smith Chairman of the Environment and Energy Committee regarding Bill #16-83.

“We are writing to you with this specific request as it relates to Senate Bill 1683. This bill amends the existing law to expand the requirement for background checks to a broader range of persons involved in the solid waste industry, such as sales persons, consultants, and brokers. The bill also subjects persons or business concerns engaging in soil and debris recycling services to the same regulation and oversight under the law as that which applies to the solid waste industry.

However, this bill will not cure our current concerns with the dumping of dirt, solid waste, in a residential zone contrary to a stop work order resulting from the failure of submitting plans and obtaining permit(s). I have requested that our state officials enact such legislation, elevating such action to a crime of the third degree for owner/operators and fourth degree for drivers delivering described materials in the above manner. When probable cause is present, sworn local law enforcement officers will have the authority to arrest actors who knowingly, purposely, or recklessly commit such action.

We desire to be part of the deliberations to bring this law to the State of NJ.

Vernon Township is located in the “Highlands” and is being invaded by trucks transporting and disposing tons of solid waste, potentially hazardous waste, soil, dirt, and other similar materials originating from outside our county and state borders including New York City. These materials are delivered into residential neighborhoods in defiance of stop work orders. These materials have the potential to contaminate the water for not only Vernon residents but communities and cities such as Newark.

We are frustrated by the inability to identify the responsible agency or board to investigate this matter and/or take action. “Pass the buck” and “it is a local matter” are common reactions by state and county entities who claim that they do not have jurisdiction or authority.

County Health Departments receive funds to enhance NJDEP pollution control efforts under the authority of County Environmental Health Act (CEHA). Their authority is limited under the grant. Municipalities do not receive funding but the responsibility to enforce state stop work orders has fallen on the municipal property taxpayer.

Under CEHA, the County has the following authority: 7: IH-2.2 Duties and powers (a) The county department and local health agency shall investigate citizen complaints and provide public information and citizen education services in all matters concerning environmental health. The county department and local health agency shall monitor the various State statutes, rules and regulations concerning environmental health; shall report any violations of said statutes, rules and regulations to the Department for enforcement; shall gather evidence of said violations as required; and shall provide witnesses for any resultant court action as needed; (b) The county department and local health agency may maintain an action in a court of competent jurisdiction against any other person to enforce, or to restrain the violation of, any statute, regulation or ordinance which is designed to prevent or minimize pollution, impairment or destruction of the environment as provided in the Environmental Rights Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:35A-l et seq.

Congressman Josh Gottheimer and Senator Steve Oroho are assisting in our efforts to stop the onslaught. They should be applauded because they are coming together in a bipartisan manner to solve a potentially significant public health crisis. The Vernon Township Council passed an ordinance and the Mayor signed the same to regulate soil fill operations. Funds will be in next year’s budget for a truck enforcement unit. (subject to Council Approval)

Summonses are issued but the defense manipulates the judicial system for adjournments and a tort claim has been filed in an effort to stop our efforts to protect our community.

This alarming situation demonstrates the need for state legislation defining the operation, maintenance, storage, disposal and transportation of such materials into residential neighborhoods when stop work orders are in effect as a crime of the third degree. Such legislation will allow our police department to affect arrests based on probable cause and the potential for incarceration if found guilty. Please join us in this fight and support the necessary legislation that will arm municipal governments to safeguard our communities from such potentially dangerous conditions.”

Mayor Shortway stated the letter will also be sent to the County Health Department as costs for the enforcement should not be funded by Vernon taxpayers.

Council Comments

Council Member Auberger had no comment.

Council Member Kadish commented that in 1984, a consortium was created by the USDA of New York towns to budget funds to clear fallen trees out of rivers and suggested the idea be presented to the Vernon Environmental Commission. Council Member Kadish commented that during the Pipeline Construction in Vernon, the recycling containers in the Great Gorge Condominiums were moved and suggested reminding all residents of importance of Recycling.

Council Member Ooms had no comment.

Council Member Van Tassel was not present.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy noted that the Township does not have any jurisdiction over the waste/recycling removal and that the GGV Association may wish to handle the issues. Council President Murphy discussed that the process of applying for Building and Fire Prevention permits and checking on status on line will be established to ease the process.

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 Kadish with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: November 8, 2018