502 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph, NJ 07869-3799
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All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.

Minutes: March 29, 2012

A work session of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Guadagno. This meeting is held pursuant to the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. Adequate notice of the meeting has been provided by posting written notice of the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting in Randolph Township. This notice was posted on the Bulletin Board within Town Hall, it was filed with the Township Clerk, and it was provided to those persons or entities requesting notification. Notice was also provided to the Randolph Reporter and the Morris County Daily Record on December 5, 2011, by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on December 1, 2011. The annual resolution, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, and in the Morris County Daily Record on December 8, 2011.

PRESENT:
Councilwoman Mitsch
Councilman Napoliello
Councilman Obremski
Councilwoman Veech
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Mayor Guadagno

ABSENT: Councilman Loveys

Also Present: Township Manager John Lovell and Township Attorney Edward Buzak

Mayor Guadagno led the Pledge of Allegiance.

PRESENTATION—JOINT BUDGET PRESENTATION WITH THE BOARD OF EDUCATION

Manager Lovell’s comments included the following:

  • The Township has led up to this year by making a series of decisions over the course of many years to ensure a stable economy for Randolph
  • Many difficult decisions have been made along the way
  • This year’s budget process was somewhat easier than it has been in the last several years due to the difficult adjustments within the organization and considerable downsizing
  • A few years ago the Township has 140 full time employees and now has 118 full time employees
  • The Council last year challenged the Manager and Finance Director to get away from the issuance of debt wherever possible and to maximize the use of cash for capital improvements as opposed to issuing bonds
  • This year the Township will be paying for the entire road overlay program with cash, however that decision does place pressure elsewhere in the budget
  • The municipal budget for 2012 follows the tradition of falling below state mandated caps—$48,328.00 below the 2 percent levy cap and $384,469.00 below the appropriations cap
  • Randolph can bank that money to create flexibility if it is needed in the future
  • Three appropriations drove the budget significantly this year—health insurance continues to rise significantly, the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes is growing, and the increased use of cash for the Capital Improvement Program
  • The increase from those three areas amounts to $944,000.00
  • Cuts were successfully found elsewhere in the budget to offset these increases
  • Randolph for the second year in a row has seen a modest decrease in the ratable base, however the Manager does anticipate some commercial and residential growth this year
  • Randolph continues to face pressure as a result of property tax appeals
  • Tax appeals have a very real impact since the Township must reimburse municipal, school and county taxes
  • Another issue that is impacting Randolph is the down-streaming of the deficit by the state of New Jersey, estimated this year to be $1.2 million in lost aid to Randolph Township
  • The municipal tax rate is increasing by 1.9 cents this year which will impact the average assessed property by $63.47 per year, or $5.29 per month
  • The sewer fund budget is decreasing this year by 10.5 percent and is very solvent at this time
  • The water fund budget is increasing by 4.3 percent
  • The Township is going through a process of prioritizing leak detection programs and replacing large water meters throughout the Township in order to be accountable for all water consumption
  • It’s important to recognize that once something has been cut out of the budget, it will not make it back in
  • The Township is continuing to look for shared services to find economies
  • The budget for 2012 is conservative and will meet the needs of the citizens

Al Matos, Chair of the Facilities Finance Transportation Committee, introduced Board of Education members Harry Ruiz, Amy Sachs, and Tammy MacKay, and Business Administrator Michael Neves.

Mr. Matos’s comments included the following:

  • A summary of the budget packet is online
  • Budget was approved yesterday at the Board of Education meeting
  • General fund is what is used to operate the district—the approved budget totals $79.8 million, an increase of $1 million over last year
  • The general fund is driven by state sources as well as other local sources
  • $65.8 million, the local tax levy is what the taxpayers in Randolph pay into
  • Increase compared to current budget year is 2 percent, or $1.3 million
  • Net total increase of $1 million
  • State aid is an unknown variable that comes from Trenton
  • Current budget plus what was received from Trenton totals $1.4 million
  • Net increase to the revenues of $1.1 million over this current year budget
  • Board approved tax levy resulting in the average assessed home tax increase of $170.00.
  • Board does not get to vote on line items because that may be in flux as the needs of the district changes or different needs are identified
  • Capital outlay of $1.3 million will be used to do infrastructure upgrades
  • Board does not really have a reserve—one of the few districts that does not—district will start placing money in reserve for such things as roof replacements or boiler replacements
  • In past years planning for a reserve was difficult because of the budget crunch
  • What will be done with the additional state aid?—Superintendent has articulated a vision going forward in which the $1.4 million is funding various initiatives within the school—taking a very strategic look at how they combine disciplines and have the supervisors work together in order to provide curriculum that utilizes both history and English as not one course but make sure they are related—same with science, technology and math—the idea is to drive this district to find similarities in the different disciplines and leverage that in order to teach kids that they can continue to learn
  • Plans to hire supervisor for K-5
  • Kids will have I-pads that will be connected to district systems
  • Plan for $1.3 million in capital outlay is for infrastructure upgrades—replace parking lot, fix softball and baseball fields
  • If things cost more than what is budgeted, less of the list will be completed
  • Will continue to focus on education, safety, and make sure infrastructure gets attention

Questions and comments from the Council included the following:

  • Approximately how many students are in the district (approximately 6,000)
  • Where is the district trending on school population (Shongum is growing, Fernbrook remains the same, Center Grove and Ironia are decreasing)
  • The Council would like multi-year trending projections provided by the school (a five year projection is available on the web site)
  • Was any thought given to using the $1 million differential to start a reserve fund (instructional purposes were given more significance at this point)
  • When was the last time the district had a reserve fund (the old reserve was brought down to zero in 2004)
  • Why are taxes increasing if $1.4 million didn’t cover a $1 million increase (if planned projects are not completed in the same year, the state forces the district to carry that item to the next year’s budget)

OPEN TO PUBLIC

Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, noted that the Council will be discussing railroad tie retaining walls and stated that stone walls when constructed without cement are very long lasting.

Lee Whilden, 82 Radtke Road, noted that stone walls are labor intensive because each stone must be put into place and balanced.

Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.

MANAGER’S REPORT

Manager Lovell’s comments included the following:

  • Randolph will receive a $200,000.00 DOT grant for the reconstruction of Franklin Road, which is projected to cost approximately $282,000.00
  • The project must be carried to 2013 due to the closing of the South Salem Street bridge
  • He has been attending meetings and visiting the maintenance garage which has fallen off schedule
  • He has urged the contractor to get the project back on schedule
  • He has met with the Business Administrator for the Board of Education to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as telephone systems
  • The Manager expects the building to be completed by mid-May and fully operational for June 1
  • The Community Center and Library projects are moving along and he is pleased with the progress
  • The Council will be dealing with eight change orders related to those projects at their next meeting
  • The electrical system at the Community Center is going in at this time and a cupola will be installed shortly
  • The Manager would like to get the entrance to the Library completed shortly

REVIEW AND SET PROPOSED AGENDA FOR APRIL 3, 2012 REGULAR MEETING

Councilwoman Mitsch asked the Manager about her past suggestion regarding flags for veterans.

Manager Lovell responded that he and his staff have attempted to reach out to veterans but have not had any responses.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

A. Solar Canopy Installation—Planning Board Review Jurisdiction

Manager Lovell’s comments included the following:

  • The Township learned recently that the County College of Morris was doing a rather extensive solar initiative this year and putting canopies in many of their parking lots
  • CCM advised Randolph that there will no longer be the potential for having fireworks on site which impacts the carnival run by Kiwanis
  • The Manager asked the Planning and Zoning Administrator where CCM was in relation to undertaking a Planning Board review and he was advised that no such application has been made
  • The Manager also reached out to the Board of Education to see if there was the potential of using the school site for the carnival and fireworks and was advised that the school district is going through a very similar initiative through the Morris County Improvement Authority to establish solar canopies and panels on the roofs
  • The Manager then sent out emails to the Board of Education, the President of CCM, and the Chair of the Morris County Improvement Authority to indicate that there is a requirement for some sort of Planning Board review
  • The County’s response did not embrace that decision, which prompted Mayor Guadagno to sign a letter to the Freeholders and other entities including the Board of Education to express Randolph’s concerns
  • To emphasize this letter, last night a contingent of Randolph representatives, including Mayor Guadagno, Deputy Mayor MacArthur, Councilwoman Veech and the Manager attended the Freeholder meeting and raised the issue in order to get some feedback from the Freeholders as to where they are headed on this issue
  • The Freeholders were quick to blame the Board of Education for not making application to the Planning Board, however the Manager will be seeking advice from the Township Attorney as to whether or not the Board of Education is responsible for making an application
  • A meeting has been scheduled by the Chair of the Morris County Improvement Authority for April 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the municipal building where they will review their solar initiative for CCM and the Board of Education
  • The Manager asked that representatives from the Board of Education be present at the meeting
  • This meeting should not be viewed as a replacement for the responsibilities under the Land Use Law to make an appearance to the Planning Board
  • The Manager sent the Council a link to the Morris County Improvement Authority’s web site which provides conceptual site plans for these projects
  • Concern is being expressed about the canopies being placed along Randolph roadways
  • Many installations the Manager has seen have the canopies installed at the rear of the building or on roof tops where they are not visible to the residents
  • Many years ago Randolph and the Board of Education established a partnership so that school buses could be parked at the Public Works site as opposed to the front parking lot of the former Millbrook Barn site in a desire to keep the look of Millbrook Avenue a residential rural road through the community
  • It’s important that the Planning Board have the ability to exercise its powers in accordance with State statutes and he has the expectation that the agencies that are required to make application to the Planning Board will make the proper application and go through a review process
  • The Manager thanked Mayor Guadagno, Deputy Mayor MacArthur, and Councilwoman Veech for their efforts and support

Deputy Mayor MacArthur stated that he found the Freeholders to be somewhat responsive and believes they are trying to help the situation. While contracts have already been signed, the Deputy Mayor senses that the Board of Education members can influence where the solar panels and canopies are placed.

Manager Lovell noted that Mr. Neves advised him that the current generation of plans is not the plan that is being formally presented to the Council next month.

Mr. Matos responded that the solar project has been in play for at least a year. The Board of Education does not have a plan to review at this point. Conceptual discussions have taken place, economic terms have been agreed to, contracts have been signed, and bonds have been issued. Mr. Matos stated that typically the Board of Education goes to the Planning Board for a courtesy review for any of its construction plans.

Manager Lovell responded that the review is required under State statute which is quite different than a courtesy review.

Mr. Matos responded that the attorneys will need to determine if the review is required under statute. The Board of Education will be presented with a plan on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. which they will review at that time. He noted that it is their desire that the project be as attractive as possible and designs today are more attractive than earlier installations.

Mayor Guadagno noted that the Council was concerned because they were unaware of the Board’s solar initiative.

A Board member responded that this issue has been discussed extensively for the last year and half.

Councilwoman Mitsch cautioned the Board of Education that the solar company seems to be driving the agenda and reminded the Board that they represent Randolph residents. Solar carports would change the appearance of Millbrook Avenue in a dramatic way and would alter the rural character. The Councilwoman also voiced concern about what has been signed by the Board of Education before plans were presented and reviewed.

Councilwoman Veech noted that the Council is not anti-solar. The Council embraces solar initiatives and the benefits they bestow. However it is the Council’s desire to keep Randolph attractive and that solar installations be put where they would have the least impact to residents.

Manager Lovell noted that while he was not shocked that there was a solar project, he was shocked to see what was online and hearing about the extent of the project and that there were no plans to appear before the Planning Board. The message he was hearing was that it was too late to go before the Planning Board.

Mr. Matos stated that he believes the owners of the solar system should be the ones to go before the Planning Board.

Members of the Board of Education stated that they will keep the Council in the loop after they review their plans on April 5.

Manager Lovell noted that this issue will be discussed in Executive Session where they will receive advice from the Township Attorney as to the review of these documents and what the next step should be.

B. 2012 Freedom Festival—Revised Planning Activities

Manager Lovell’s comments included the following:

  • Randolph submitted permits for the 2012 Freedom Festival and was advised by the County College of Morris that permits would not be issued due to the solar initiative that is taking place on their campus
  • The Council was advised on this issue
  • Several Council members and Russ Newman subsequently met with Dr. Yaw to discuss the project and were advised that the carnival can not take place because of parking limitations and that fireworks will never be allowed there again because of possible damage the drifting hot ash would do to the solar panels
  • A meeting was held with Kiwanis, where it was learned that 75 percent of the revenue derived from the carnival is associated with the 2 hours preceding and 2 hours following the fireworks
  • From Kiwanis’s standpoint, the carnival is not viable without the fireworks
  • Consideration was given as to whether or not the carnival and fireworks could be moved to another venue within the Township
  • The school parking lots will be unavailable due to their solar initiative taking place this summer
  • There are other issues as well, including how to meet state regulations governing fireworks and issues of traffic movement
  • The carnival company will be looking to sign contracts and will look to be released if Kiwanis can not sign shortly
  • While the Manager has not given up on trying to find another venue, he believes the carnival and fireworks may not be possible this summer and he will continue to report to the Council on this issue
  • The parade is still viable since there is not the requirement for a large parking area and they are hoping they will be able to use CCM’s campus
  • Geoff Price will be working to that end with Dr. Yaw and will know more after April 5 regarding the feasibility of the parade

C. Co-Location of Wireless Communications Equipment and Proposed Ordinance Amendment

Councilman Obremski recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

Ms. Gallo noted that preparation of the ordinance focused the following:

  • Adding a section to the property maintenance code specifically dealing with support structure
  • Owners of the structures supporting the antennas would be required to submit a certification every year providing information for the owners of all of the antennas as well as a structural integrity certification
  • A provision was added to require that any inactive antennas be removed from the structure and to maintain the grounds
  • Language was added to the Land Use Development ordinance that would require the certification that the structure is able to support all of the antennas that are placed there, identifying the height of the structure, and to provide all of the information necessary for the Planning Board when applications are submitted
  • A checklist of items has been added to make sure everyone is aware of what is required when they submit their applications

Councilwoman Veech asked if there was any authority given to the Township to perform inspections.

Manager Lovell responded that the liability for the inspections lies with the owner of the tower and with his consultants.

Mayor Guadagno asked if issues such as wind speed and other variables are addressed in the ordinance.

Mr. Buzak responded that the ordinance contains national codes that are industry-wide as opposed to being governmentally regulated. When these structures are designed they are based upon those professional standards.

Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked what happens if somebody is approved to construct a structure that is 150 feet high and they want to add another 10 percent to the height.

Ms. Gallo responded that the statute allows them to add antenna but if they want to change the height, they would have to get approval.

Manager Lovell stated that he will distribute the draft ordinance to the Council and would like to introduce it shortly.

D. Certificate of Determination and Award for $7,980,000.00 Bond Anticipation Notes

Manager Lovell reported that the Finance Director sold notes in the principal amount of $7,980,000.00 on March 27, 2012, with a net interest rate of .384 percent.

E. Railroad Tie Retaining Walls

Manager Lovell reported that the Council asked him to provide his sense of the magnitude of replacing retaining walls throughout the Township. He provided an inventory and pictorial essay of the railroad tie walls in the Township that was completed in 2003 during earlier discussions. Past Councils have considered replacing retaining walls, however in the end decided that the Township should not be in the retaining wall business. Homeowners were informed that the Township would provide a service to tear down the walls and grade the property if the homeowner did not want to have the wall replaced themselves. The Manager cautioned the Council that in re-visiting this issue to bear in mind that the pictures are ten years old, the walls are in greater disrepair, and the costs have gone up.

Mayor Guadagno formed a sub-committee consisting of himself, Deputy Mayor MacArthur and Councilman Loveys. Councilman Loveys will chair the sub-committee and they will provide a recommendation to the Council in September or October.

OPEN TO PUBLIC

Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.

COUNCIL COMMENTS

Deputy Mayor MacArthur stated that he, Councilwoman Veech, Manager Lovell, and Tiena Cofoni met to discuss the potential impact of the OPRA ruling that documents compiled for the SwiftReach initiative would qualify as an open record. The committee has decided to proceed with SwiftReach and to simply inform the public when signing up for the program of the possibility that someone could request their information as a public record. April 15 to May 1 remains the target date and implementation details will be discussed further at the next meeting. The Facebook site has been ruled out as the official Randolph site.

Mayor Guadagno asked if a lot of residential tax appeals have been coming in.

Manager Lovell responded that tax appeals are coming in and he expects that the County will require a revaluation later this year. The Manager would like to research whether it is viable for Randolph to partner with one or two other towns to use the same firm for the revaluation.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

WHEREAS, Section 8 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 (N.J.S.A. 10:4-12) permits the exclusion of the public from a meeting under certain circumstances; and

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

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Randolph, in the County of Morris, and State of New Jersey, as follows:

1. The public shall be excluded from the following portion of the meeting.

2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is as follows:

A. Potential Litigation
B. Attorney/Client Privilege

3. As nearly as now can be ascertained, the matter or matters to be discussed at this time will be disclosed to the public at such time and under such circumstances as are prescribed by law.

4. At the conclusion of the closed Executive Session, the Council may reconvene in public session for the purpose of taking formal action on matters discussed in closed session or on any other matter as permitted by law.

Councilman Napoliello made a motion to move into Executive Session at 8:35 p.m. Councilwoman Mitsch seconded the motion and the following roll call vote was taken:

AYES:
Councilwoman Mitsch
Councilman Napoliello
Councilman Obremski
Councilwoman Veech
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Mayor Guadagno

NAYS: None

ABSENT: Councilman Loveys

Deputy Mayor MacArthur made a motion to return to Open Session at 9:50 p.m. Councilman Obremski seconded the motion and the following roll call vote was taken:

AYES:
Councilwoman Mitsch
Councilman Napoliello
Councilman Obremski
Councilwoman Veech
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Mayor Guadagno

NAYS: None

ABSENT: Councilman Loveys

ADJOURNMENT

Deputy Mayor MacArthur made a motion to return to adjourn the meeting at 9:50 p.m. Councilman Obremski seconded the motion and the following roll call vote was taken:

AYES:
Councilwoman Mitsch
Councilman Napoliello
Councilman Obremski
Councilwoman Veech
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Mayor Guadagno

NAYS: None

ABSENT: Councilman Loveys

_________________________
Donna Marie Luciani
Township Clerk