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

Minutes: September 23, 2010

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:03 p.m. on Thursday, September 23, 2010 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Mayor Sally Rinker presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 5, 2010, and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, and Mayor Sally Rinker. Also present were Township Manager Jerry Giaimis and Township Attorney John Ursin. Council Member Michael Pier was absent.

Resolution to Go into Executive Session

At 6:08 p.m. Mayor Sally Rinker asked for a motion to go into Executive Session. Council Member Valerie Seufert made a motion to close the meeting to the public and enter into executive session. Motion seconded by Council Member Harry Shortway with all members voting in favor.

The Municipal Clerk read the following resolution to go into executive session:

WHEREAS, Section 8 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 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 is:
    1. Personnel matter, regarding the Land Use Department, there is no anticipated release of executive session minutes.
    2. Contract negotiations with respect to Mt. Creek. The executive session minutes will be released upon conclusion of the matter or after the execution of a contract.
  3. It is anticipated that the above-stated subject matter will be made available upon final decision.
  4. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

The Township Council entered into Executive Session at 6:08 p.m.

The meeting was reopened to the public at 7:04 p.m. Present were Council Members Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, and Mayor Sally Rinker. Also present were Township Manager Jerry Giaimis and Township Attorney John Ursin.

Salute to the Flag

The Mayor led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.

Proclamations

Mayor Rinker proclaimed October 2010 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Presentations and Special Items

Application to the NJ Department of Community Affairs for Great Gorge Terrace Association:

The Township will be acting as the applicant for the grant and Mr. Mark Blauer will make a presentation on the matter. The last three resolutions on the agenda are in regards to this grant.

Mark Blauer, Grant Writer, had been asked to help Great Gorge Terrace and the hope is that Vernon Township can use its eligibility to apply to the NJ Department of Community Affairs Small Cities Program. The Small Cities Program is a program that is available each year that provides larger cities in the United States entitlement grants. We, as a non-entitlement community have to compete for a portion of roughly $7.5 million available each year to so-called small cities in NJ. In NJ the areas that are eligible for this program are communities within Sussex County, Warren County, Cape May County, Hunterdon County, Cumberland County and Salem County.

Mr. Blauer is planning to do 10 applications this year in the southern counties and has been asked to do this one in Sussex County. The program is focused on getting assistance to Great Gorge Terrace to deal with the problem with contaminated well water in particular uranium and radium. The association has been under immense pressure from the DEP to do something about the problem. The preferred solution is to connect to United Water. The catch is finding the money to make it happen. The association cannot apply on its own to the Small Cities Program; a municipality must be the applicant. Mr. Blauer has some experience with some of these water projects particularly in the southern end of the state where he works with NJ American Water Company. Ina particular instance a certain neighborhood had contaminated water and he had used the Small Cities grant to get the money to provide an extension deposit with NJ American and consequently they ran the water mains to individual streets that needed to get public water instead of their old contaminated wells. This is somewhat similar. If this is approved, Vernon Township would receive the grant for up to $500,000 which then under the guidance of DCA and the township’s own rules, the township will transfer the funds and provide oversight of the funds that will be available to pay United Water to extend the water to this community.

A public hearing must be held prior to submission of the grant. The application is due October 29, 2010; the hearing must be held no later than 20 days before the application is due. There had to have been 7 days between the ad and the day of the hearing. Mr. Blauer appreciates how quickly the ad was placed in the newspaper. To meet statutory requirements a hearing must be held to take public input and answer questions about the project.

Mr. Blauer distributed a sign-up sheet for the hearing and will give to the Township Manager for the record.

The Small Cities Block Grant Program is highly competitive and is available each year with approximately $7.5 million available. There will be more applicants than there are winners. Any project done must primarily benefit low-moderate income persons. They have demonstrated this with an income survey in Great Gorge Terrace development.

The grant is due October 29th and will be submitted on the DCA website called SAGE where Mr. Blauer will submit the application online with hard copy documents to be submitted thereafter. He and the Township will need to work together to get the proper user name and password to start the application. When the application is done, he will need to have someone at the township level submit the application.

A response on the award of the grant may take 3-5 months. It is a win or loose situation; you will not typically receive partial money.

The Association will be meeting probably on October 8th with the DCA staff to discuss the basic eligibility issues for Great Gorge Terrace. In particular, the complication is the involvement of United Water. Normally a municipal utility provides water/sewer but in this case, United Water is a private for-profit company. The DCA prefer to deal with a public utility such as an MUA. During this meeting they will get a sense of whether or not DCA will support this program. If there are any issues at this meeting Mr. Blauer would then suggest not to submit the grant. If there are no issues then he will continue with the application process based upon the information he has received from Great Gorge Terrace and Crew Engineering. He will work closely with the Township Manager on obtaining the information that is required for the application and then will have it submitted by the 29th.

The project is to get the water to Great Gorge Terrace via an extension deposit agreement with United Water. The funds from this grant will be used to extend the water main.

The post approval administrative work which is what Mr. Blauer does as part as his contract can be drawn from the grant itself. It is acceptable to draw up to 4% of the grant to pay administrative costs. Mr. Blauer would handle the paperwork to be sure Vernon Township is in compliance with the NJ DCA.

Mr. Blauer stated that there are 44 units in Great Gorge Terrace. The contamination problem has been ongoing for some time and the solution has been determined to be the connection to the United Water system. This is a grant from the state to the Township; it is not a loan. The Township will be used as an intermediary to get the money from the state and then support this project by paying the money to the community as the project progresses. The details are yet to be defined; some type of sub-receiptant agreement will be necessary.

This program does not cost the municipality any money. The 20% match will be met by the Association. Because the project will cost substantially more than $500,000 the Association has succeeded in receiving a loan from the DEP. If the Association had to do the project entirely though the loan they would not be able to afford it. The Association does have the funds from DEP to cover the costs above and beyond the grant amount.

The Mayor opened the discussion to the public.

Phyllis Pfeiffer—Would like to know if there is a screw up somehow with the grant and if the paperwork is not handled correctly and we don’t meet the deadlines how does this impact the township? Is the Township liable in any way to repay that money even though it is a grant; some grants have stipulations that if you do not meet them that whatever money has been distributed has to be paid back to the grantor. Is there any liability for the township? Mr. Ursin stated, no. The money that will be coming to the Township will only be paid out to Great Gorge Terrace if it was approved by DCA the whole way. Ms. Pfieffer asked what if it runs over the $500,000? What if it runs beyond the totals and cannot be hooked up, is there a zero possibility that the township will not be liable? Mr. Ursin said it will run over and the grant will be used as a portion of the funds. He also stated that for tonight’s purposes and respect to this hearing and the filing of the grant application, the documents that the township is required to endorsed in order for the grant to be submitted can conclusively state that there is no liability or obligation by the Township other than for the support for this grant application. The Township is signing nothing that would make them obligated for anything at this point except to support the grant. It will be Mr. Ursin’s obligation that when the forms come in to ensure the Township is not liable for anything beyond the grant. If the DCA sends the Township $500,000 to support this project the township’s liability to do anything would be limited to how that $500,000 is administered.

Gary Martinsen—What about liability for any issues with the water that occur, for example medical, can the township be impounded by some type of liability? If the Township is going to help them and they get the grant, in the process of putting the system in and something happens and there is some type of lawsuit, is the Township liable since the Township is fostering the mains? Mr. Ursin said he could not think of anything that would. Mr. Martinsen’s next concern is in regards to the low-moderate income; how is that determined? Per Mr. Blauer the DCA requires any project must primarily benefit low-moderate income people; 51% of the beneficiaries must be low-moderate income. For example, Township wide may be 35% low-moderate income but there may be pockets of the community that are might higher. Based upon a door-to-door income survey it was determined that approximately 72% of the persons living in the Great Gorge Terrace qualify as low-moderate income. Mr. Martinsen is concerned that it may sent a precedence that someone else in town may say that they have a problem with their water can you the town do something for us.

Phylis Pfeiffer—Asked if, Mr. Blauer, would be overseeing this grant. Mr. Ursin stated that it had not been determined yet. Ms. Pfeiffer asked if an employee of the Township will be overseeing the grant and will there be one person who will be the responsible person and not a committee so that someone could pass the buck? Mr. Ursin stated there will be one person responsible. Mr. Blauer works for the Great Gorge Terrace and has submitted a proposal to the township to be the grant administrator if the grant is awarded; they are still discussing the details and who would oversee what portion of the grant. Ms. Pfeiffer asked then if a portion of the proceeds of the grant would go to the township if the person is an employee overseeing the grant? Yes, per Mr. Ursin.

Carol Matthews—Financial Administrator for Great Gorge Terrace. She is speaking on behalf of all the people in the Association. We have dealt with this water contamination for more than 12 years. We have followed the state and DEP rules and it has cost a small fortune, several hundred thousand dollars to this point. They are out of money, this is their last resort, and if this does not go through they are looking at condemnation of their units. They are at their wits end. We understand the concern for Vernon, we have made it clear to Vernon, and Mr. Ursin that Vernon will be at no obligation and that will be included in all the documents. They are not looking for Vernon to financially support this in any way, shape or form. To address the issue if anyone else comes and asks for assistance, they have no control over that, it would be on an individual basis.

Gina Grino—Resident of Great Gorge Terrace, she would like to state that she feels that the grant would be beneficial to the town. It would be in the Township’s best interest in terms of real estate and property values and fact that we would not want to have a town that has contaminated units that are condemned.

At this time Mayor Rinker closed the meeting to the public on this issue.

Resolution #10-192: Identifying Small Cities Fair Housing Officer

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon is applying for a Fiscal Year 2011 Small Cities Community Development Block Grant application for up to $500,000 from the NJ DCA Small Cities Program for a water main extension to serve the Great Gorge Terrace Condominium Association property; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon must make efforts to affirmatively further fair housing; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has reviewed various actions that would be acceptable to the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has made assurances in the grant agreement that;

  1. It will comply with the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, and regulations issues thereto; and
  2. It will comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the regulations issued thereto it; and
  3. It will comply with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and will affirmatively further fair housing; and
  4. It will comply with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Clerk shall be designated as the Small Cities Program Fair Housing Compliance Officer for the Township of Vernon; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Fair Housing Officer shall contact the USHUD Regional Office of Housing and Equal Opportunity and the NJ Division on Civil Rights, inform those agencies of his/her appointment as Fair Housing Officer and request Fair Housing Information; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Fair Housing Officer shall provide fair housing advisory services and assistance and referral advice to persons requesting such assistance from the Township of Vernon; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Township of Vernon will publish in the local newspaper of record and post at the Township Municipal Building a public notice announcing the appointment of the Fair Housing Officer and the availability of local fair housing advisory services

Resolution #10-193: Adoption of State Model Citizen Participation Plan for DCA Small Cities Program

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon is an applicant for Department of Community Affairs Fiscal Year 2011 funds for a water main extension to serve the Great Gorge Terrace Condominium Association property; and

WHEREAS the Township will enter into grant agreement for said grant if approved; and

WHEREAS, that grant agreement will require the Township of Vernon to comply with all federal regulations with respect to citizen participation; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has reviewed the Citizen Participation Plan prepared for Small Cities CDBG grantees;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, that;

The Citizen Participation Plan developed by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Small Cities CDBG is adopted by the Township of Vernon; and

The Township of Vernon will follow all regulations set forth in that document throughout the term of the grant agreement cited above.

Resolution #10-194: Authorization to Apply for a Grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for a Water Main Extension for Great Gorge Terrace Condominium Association

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon desires to apply for and obtain a grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs in an amount not to exceed $500,000 for a water main extension to serve the Great Gorge Terrace Condominium Association property.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,

  1. that the Township of Vernon does hereby authorize the application for such a grant, and,
  2. recognizes and accepts that the Department may offer a lesser or greater amount and therefore, upon receipt of the grant agreement from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, does further authorize the execution of any such grant agreement; and also, upon receipt of fully executed agreement from the Department, does further authorize the expenditure of grant funds pursuant to the terms of the 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, and that they or their successors in said titles are authorized to sign the agreement to sign the agreement, and any other documents necessary in connection therewith:

Since the subject matter was the same for Resolutions #10-192, #10-193 and #10-194, the Council voted on all three at the same time.

Moved: Valerie Seufert
Seconded: Richard Carson

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, Sally Rinker
Nays: None
Resolutions #10-192, #10-193 and #10-194 were approved.

Public Comments

Mayor Rinker opened the meeting for public comment.

Gary Grey, Vernon resident since 1986 and past Council Member, spoke regarding the question going on the ballot in November to change the form of government. Mr. Grey requested the Council to hold some public information sessions prior to the election.

Mayor Rinker responded that it is not the purview of this Council to educate the public. It is the obligation of every voter to educate oneself before casting a vote.

Council Member Valerie Seufert commented that it is the responsibility of the Town and the Council to allow for education to the public to have a venue here.

Township Attorney, John Ursin, stated that this would not be part of an official function of the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon, something like this would not be appropriate during an official Council Meeting. The Council itself should not, other than making a room available, be directly involved.

Mike Furrey, 44 Sand Hill Road,17 year Vernon resident. Read a statement regarding Vote SOS and the change of the form of government and does not support this change.

Jessi Paladini, Sunset Ridge, stated that the former two speakers gave misinformation regarding the change of government. Ms. Paladini further stated that the committee who circulated the petition will have ample opportunities for educating the public. Ms. Paladini spoke of former Township Managers and said that Professional Management means nothing and an elected Mayor will be accountable to the people. Ms. Paladini requested the Council to take a close look at the Best Practices application.

Township Manager Jerry Giaimis commented that he has been working on this application with the Chief Finance Officer, Bill Zuckerman, on this check list for Best Practices.

Township Attorney, John Ursin, explained Extraordinary Aid and Transitional Aid and stated he is only aware of one Sussex County Municipality that received it this year.

Gary Martinsen, spoke regarding Voices of Vernon hosting a special show just on the referendum, it will be to provide information to the public from both sides.

Robert Oliver, Sand Hill Road, spoke regarding Mr. Grey’s comments and questioned the use of the Municipal facilities by their group. Mr. Oliver commented on an Open Public Records Act request regarding the Grey property and requested answers to his request.

Mr. Giaimis stated that he was familiar with Mr. Oliver’s OPRA request and stated that he would further look into his request with regard to costs and dumping of this property.

Thomas McClachrie, Vernon Taxpayers Association, stated he is not calling the current Council corrupt, but further stated that former Councils made unwise choices, which produced a lot of debt.

Craig Benda, 123 Coon Den Road, Highland Lakes, 40 year resident of Vernon, reported that he has not made any accusations on his website. Mr. Benda stated that periodic information regarding Vote SOS will be posted on his website.

Marcia Lynn, is not a Vernon resident yet but she is working on it. Ms. Lynn stated she has been approached by several residents asking her about grant writing. Ms. Lynn further stated there are 50-60 new grants that could benefit municipalities and she would like to work with the Township on these grants.

Seeing no one else from the public wishing to speak, Mayor Sally Rinker closed the public portion of the meeting.

Township Manager’s Report

Jerry Giaimis provided a Manager’s Report touching on the issues of reimbursements to private communities, employee evaluations, the HVAC system, Fire Department equipment, and the shuttle bus service.

Mr. Giaimis reported that he had followed up with Council Member Carson’s question regarding Weatherworks, which could become a shared service with the school district if the Council agrees to it. The Council would like full options before making a decision.

Mr. Giaimis is further researching the speaker issue from the previous bills list.

Regarding the grant writer, Marcia Lynn, Mr. Giaimis commented he would be happy to speak with her with respect to grant options.

Bonnie Rubin questioned the Township Manager about the Council Meetings being placed on our website. Mr. Giaimis stated he is researching companies, and is looking into it further.

Mayor Rinker requested Mr. Giaimis to look into correcting the speaker system in the Court Room, the Council agreed.

Township Attorney’s Report

John Ursin discussed the sewer agreement and sewer payments with Mt. Creek. Under the 2005 agreement it requires that Mr. Creek’s obligations be bonded, that is currently being served by a Letter of Credit, which expires on October 1st. After extensive discussions with Mt. Creek, the Town has been given every reason to believe the Letter of Credit will be renewed between now and October 1st. Mr. Ursin asked the Council to give him authorization to file a claim against the Letter of Credit in the event that it is not renewed in time. Council Member Valerie Seufert made a motion, seconded by Council Member Harry Shortway.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, Sally Rinker
Nays: None

Mr. Ursin further stated that he did receive the draft Letter of Credit today, discussions with Mt. Creek have been productive, and he does not expect to have to use that authority, but he feels it is prudent under the circumstances.

Resolutions Requiring Separate Action

Resolution #10-189: Authorizing the Approval of Bills List

BE IT RESOLVED that the following bills listed are hereby approved:

Disbursement
Journal
FundAmountMajor Vendor
#1Current$51,747.01 
#2Current$58,058.24 
#3Current$1,468,480.00Paym Bond Prin/Int
#4Planning & Zoning$339.00 
#5Other Trust$524.91 
#6Outside Services$278.44 
#7Open Space$671.49 
 Payroll$306,315.762nd Pay in Sept
 Total$1,886,414.85 

Council Member Valerie Seufert made a motion to accept the Bills List with the exception of entries #1918 and #1919; seconded by Council Member Harry Shortway.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, Sally Rinker
Nays: None
Resolution #10-189 was approved with exceptions.

Resolution #10-190: Authorizing Award of Contract to UHY Employee Benefits Consulting Services for Township Healthcare Actuary

WHEREAS, there is a need for a Healthcare actuary for the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, Actuary services do not qualify for the professional services exception to the Local Public Contracts Law, in part because they are not regulated by the State; and

WHEREAS, bidding or competitive contracting is not required if a local unit determines the cost is less than its bid threshold. In this case, solicitation of quotations is appropriate, permitting award of the contract to a vendor the local unit finds is most advantageous, price and other factors considered.

WHEREAS, the estimated cost is under the quotation threshold of $3,900 and only one proposal has been received.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that they hereby authorize and approve the award of contract of a Professional Service Contract to Robert Cirkiel of the firm UHY Employee Benefits Consulting Services for year 2010 for a price not to exceed $3,750.00, subject to the appropriate Pay-to Play laws.

Moved: Richard Carson
Seconded: Harry Shortway

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, Sally Rinker
Nays: None
Resolution #10-190 was approved.

Resolution #10-191: Approving Active Volunteer Fireman for Membership in the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association

WHEREAS, the Township Council recognizes the extraordinary contributions made by volunteer firefighters to our community and seeks to encourage their full participation in professional organizations; and

WHEREAS, Tyler A. Mackesy, an active firefighter and member of the Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department, Pochuck Valley Company #4, is requesting approval to submit an application for membership to the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, New Jersey hereby approves Tyler A. Mackesy for membership in the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association.

Moved: Harry Shortway
Seconded: Richard Carson

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway, Sally Rinker
Nays: None
Resolution #10-191 was approved.

Council Business

Appointment to Board of Recreation

Mayor Rinker made a motion to nominate Kevin Whitehead; seconded by Council Member Richard Carson. Council Member Valerie Seufert commented that other people applied for the position and felt they should be given an opportunity also.

Mayor Rinker stated that when openings on a board or commission become available, we are grateful for those who step up to devote their time. When an applicant presents themselve, they should be looking to be a part of the solution, and not choose to partake in derogatory and defamatory remarks toward the Township and governing body.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Sally Rinker
Nays: Harry Shortway
Mr. Whitehead’s appointment to the Board of Recreation was approved.

Council Member Shortway requested that he would like to present on the next agenda presentations from both sides regarding the referendum. Township Attorney, John Ursin, stated that the better thing to do would be to direct the Township Manager to facilitate some public forum that would not be part of an official Council meeting.

Council Member Harry Shortway made a motion to have Mr. Giaimis make a room available and present some dates for both sides to present their arguments; Council Member Valerie Seufert seconded the motion.

Mayor Rinker reiterated her opinion that the Council, the Municipality and anything connected to it should stay clear of the issue and is opposed to it.

Mr. Ursin commented that by voting on this motion, it would be to make a public building available for a public forum on the public question.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Richard Carson, Valerie Seufert, Harry Shortway
Nays: Sally Rinker

Mr. Ursin clarified the motion was to direct the Township Manager to facilitates some dates that the Court Room would be available. Mayor Rinker commented that her concern is that this be about education. Mr. Ursin stated that the Council is entrusting Mr. Giaimis to turn this facility over to the groups and attempt to find the way to have it presented in a neutral fashion, that would not be government sanctioned. The Council agreed that the Court Room would not be large enough for this type of public meeting; and did not object to Mr. Giaimis looking into other venues.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the Regular Meeting agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Harry Shortway. Motion seconded by Council Member Valerie Seufert with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 8:41 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Andrea Bates
Acting Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: December 16, 2010