All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: January 29, 2009
A regular meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 8:00 p.m. by Mayor Metz. 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 January 12, 2009, by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on January 1, 2009. 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 January 15, 2009.
Councilwoman Mitsch (arrived 8:40 p.m.)
Deputy Mayor Alpert
Also Present: Township Manager John Lovell and Township Attorney Edward Buzak
Mayor Metz led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Manager Lovell reported that Councilman Napoliello is ill this evening and that Councilman Obremski is away on a business trip.
Mayor Metz noted that Councilwoman Mitsch will be arriving late as she is coming from a work function.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, expressed her appreciation to the Clerk for completing Council Meeting minutes in a timely fashion and forwarding them to the library.
Hearing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
COUNCIL AND MANAGER REPORTS
Councilwoman Price complimented the Public Works Department for the great job they did in clearing the roads after the most recent snow and ice event.
Councilman Algeier thanked the Mayor and Township Manager for allowing the Housing Partnership of Morris County to use the conference facilities in Town Hall for their annual meeting.
Deputy Mayor Alpert noted that he attended a Landmarks Committee meeting where there was discussion concerning the designation of the Shongum Clubhouse and Brundage/Trowbridge House as municipal landmarks as well as maintenance of the Walnut Grove Cemetery and upkeep of historic landmark signs throughout the town.
Councilman Algeier cautioned that potential impacts to the Township be considered and researched before designating sites as landmarks.
Deputy Mayor Alpert congratulated the DPW on their efforts during the past snow and ice storm.
Mayor Metz stated that he has attended two large functions on behalf of Randolph since becoming Mayor, and at each event he was the only person wearing a nametag. He noted that he is glad to see Randolph’s representatives wearing nametags when they attend various functions. The Mayor cited an article in the Sunday Daily Record listing 38 towns in Morris County and showing their municipal taxes, school taxes, and total taxes paid per person. On that list, only six towns pay less per person than Randolph, which include Wharton, Washington Township, Victory Gardens, Dover, and Boonton Township. The Mayor thinks the Council and staff does a good job in the fiscal management of the town, however he reiterated that this budget season will be challenging. To help control costs, many towns are entering into formal shared services partnerships with their local Boards of Education. Randolph has been working with our local Board of Education on certain issues, and the Mayor encouraged further efforts in “thinking outside the box” to further reduce costs.
Manager Lovell stated that he received a report from the Police Department regarding the parking lot at the new Mt. Freedom Post Office. He will review the report and attempt to work with the developer to correct existing problems. He noted that this past ice storm has been the third such storm and they are very expensive to the town. He recommended canceling the February 7 budget meeting because numbers from the state have not been forthcoming. He anticipates being ready for the February 21 budget meeting. The Manager stated that the selection of a new Police Chief is underway. Originally two lieutenants were participating in the process, however one has pulled out for personal reasons. An oral evaluation board has been assembled consisting of Steve Mountain, Greg Poff, Dr. Sharon, Steve Mountain, Deputy Mayor Alpert, and Manager Lovell. The process should be completed within the next two weeks at which time he will make a public announcement.
(1) Vacancies and Appointed Positions
Mr. Buzak cited a case in which members of the Library Board in another town ignored their obligation to take an Oath of Office and were removed from their positions after the municipality declared those positions vacant. The members sued successfully to regain their positions. Mr. Buzak checked the statute and found that one provision that constitutes a vacancy of a position is the refusal to take the Oath of Office as opposed to simply ignoring the request to do so. The question was raised whether or not standards should be established in our local ordinances pertaining to these issues, and Mr. Buzak recommends doing so on a global basis to provide the same standards for all appointed positions in the municipality.
Councilman Algeier suggested that language in the ordinance provide a time limitation in which an appointee is expected to take their Oath of Office or else it would be deemed that they have refused the appointment and the position would be vacant.
Council agreed to a three week limitation.
Mayor Metz noted that he would like an ordinance done soon to reduce the size of some committees.
(2) Property Maintenance Code Report—Ordinance #16-04 Expired 12/31/08
Manager Lovell provided the Council with a report from Mark Caputo dealing with the property maintenance code and activities that have taken place with regard to enforcement of that code. The report showed numerous before and after pictures of properties in town where staff was able to enforce the property maintenance code, and the Manager believes the code to be an effective tool in the Township. The Manager asked the Council to consider re-adopting the ordinance. A sunset clause can be placed on the ordinance so that it can again be revisited in a couple of years.
Councilman Algeier noted that he was very pleased with the report and believes it covers exactly what the Council needs to know when considering re-adoption of the ordinance. During the drafting of the original ordinance, the Councilman was concerned that it would be used in “neighbor versus neighbor” instances. However, it is clear that the staff uses discretion in the handling of these cases. He stated that the ordinance is only as good as the people enforcing it. The Councilman would favor a sunset clause of two years so that Council can continue to monitor this ordinance.
(3) Fertilizer Ordinance Modifications Per NJ DEP
Manager Lovell noted that the State of New Jersey has changed their storm water regulations and strengthened them where they deal with fertilizers. Randolph’s current fertilizer ordinance affects all commercial operators in town, requiring them to use low phosphorus fertilizer with a rating of .5. The new state regulations will apply to all homeowners using fertilizers on their lawns. Lake friendly fertilizers are not easily accessible and often don’t have the ingredients to control dandelions or crab grass, which most homeowners look for when fertilizing. The Manager would prefer to see the state regulate these standards on a state-wide basis rather than have individual towns bear the burden of enforcement or else risk having the state not recognize their storm water license.
Mr. Buzak cautioned that the State can impose stiff financial penalties for not complying by the deadline.
Mrs. Gallo noted that there is a public comment period now, so the change by the State hasn’t been formally adopted. Once the public comment period ends and the change is adopted, towns will have six months to comply.
Councilman Algeier noted that the deadline will give residents another growing season under the current regulations. He expressed frustration that the State is usurping the legislative function of the Council, which he views as a violation of separation of powers.
Mr. Buzak recommended keeping this item on the agenda as a discussion item in order to keep track of it.
(4) Courtroom Modifications
Manager Lovell took the Council and those residents in attendance on a brief walking tour of the courtroom to provide an explanation of the proposed changes and modifications.
(5) Amend Inspection Fee Ordinance
Manager Lovell stated that he would like to draft an ordinance that would bring inspection fees in line for subdivisions and commercial properties, making both five percent of the estimated cost of improvements. This ordinance was suggested by Paul Ferriero and Ralph Carchia. He would like to introduce the ordinance next week.
REVIEW AND SET THE PROPOSED AGENDA FOR THE FEBRUARY 5, 2009 REGULAR MEETING
Manager Lovell cited a proposed resolution authorizing an underground storage tank non-compliance settlement for 2008. He noted that an inspection by the State last September triggered the issuance of a $15,000.00 fine for a missing or improperly working float in one of the fuel storage tanks. The Manager contacted the state and was able to get the fine reduced, first to $5,000.00 and then to $1,500.00.
Councilwoman Mitsch asked if this was something the Township should have picked up on earlier.
The Manager responded that the Township was aware that the tanks were no longer in compliance with modern standards and that a major investment would need to be made to bring them into compliance. He had provided the State with a thick packet of documents detailing all of the steps taken by the Township, starting with the initial memorandum to the Council, the adopted ordinance funding the project, the capital budget that included the project, the contract signed by the vendor six weeks earlier, the start date for the project, and correspondence to the DEP regarding permits that had not been responded to. The Manager expressed his frustration with dealing with the DEP.
COMBINED ACTION RESOLUTIONS
Councilman Algeier made a motion to approve the Combined Action Resolutions. Councilwoman Mitsch seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Alpert
A. Authorizing the Application for the 2008 Recycling Tonnage Grant
WHEREAS, the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act, P.L. 1987, c. 102, has established a recycling fund from which tonnage grants may be made to municipalities in order to encourage local source separation and recycling programs; and
WHEREAS, it is the intent and the spirit of the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act to use the tonnage grants to develop new municipal programs and to continue to expand existing programs; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has promulgated recycling regulations to implement the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act; and
WHEREAS, the recycling regulations impose on municipalities certain requirements as a condition for applying for tonnage grants, including but not limited to making and keeping accurate, verifiable records of materials collected and claimed by the municipality; and
WHEREAS, a resolution authorizing the municipality to apply for the 2008 recycling tonnage grant will memorialize the commitment of this municipality to recycling and to indicate the assent of the Randolph Township Council to the efforts undertaken by the municipality and the requirements contained in the Recycling Act and recycling regulations; and
WHEREAS, such a resolution should designate the individual authorized to ensure the application is properly completed and timely filed.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Randolph Township Council that Randolph Township hereby endorses the submission of the Recycling Tonnage Grant Application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and designates Mark Caputo to ensure that the application is properly filed.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the monies received from the Recycling Tonnage Grant be deposited into a dedicated recycling trust fund to be used solely for the purposes of recycling.
(1) Merchandise Raffle, Fernbrook School PTA, May 30, 2009, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fernbrook School, 206 Quaker Church Road, Randolph
(2) 50/50 Raffle, Nixon Elementary School PTA, April 3, 2009, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the Skylands at Randolph, 792 Route 10 West, Randolph
(3) Tricky Tray, Nixon Elementary School PTA, April 3, 2009, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the Skylands at Randolph, 792 Route 10 West, Randolph
(4) On-Premise 50/50 Raffle, Randolph PTA Council, March 23, 2009, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at Randolph High School, Millbrook Avenue, Randolph
(5) 50/50 Raffle, New Jersey Battered Women’s Service, February 27, 2009, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at the Randolph Senior Community Center, 30 Calais Road, Randolph
(6) Social Affair Permit, New Jersey Battered Women’s Service, February 27, 2009, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at the Randolph Senior Community Center, 30 Calais Road, Randolph
(7) Merchandise Raffle, Randolph High School Ice Hockey Booster Club, March 25, 2009, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at the Meadow Wood Manor, Route 10, Randolph
(8) Casino Night, Randolph PTA Council, March 6, 2009, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., at the Meadow Wood Manor, Route 10, Randolph
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, asked the Council to consider working with the Environmental Commission to draft an ordinance requiring commercial properties to either prove they need to plant grass or else be required to plant low growing shrubs or groundcover and deciduous trees. She stated that grass does not produce much oxygen and cutting down on the grass would also help deter the geese population from settling in town. Mrs. Stewart reiterated her desire to see the tree ordinance upgraded. Regarding the temporary budget and the 26.25 percent figure, she has learned that figure has come from the state. She has asked that times be listed in the minutes for when the Council goes into Executive Session and comes out of Executive Session. Mrs. Stewart noted that the Council has a discussion regarding Chabad scheduled for Executive Session. Her daughter has made her aware that Chabad has been trying to break town ordinances and zoning ordinances all over the country, and she would like the Council to be aware of that fact.
Seeing no one else from the public, the public portion was closed.
COUNCIL AND MANAGER COMMENTS
Manager Lovell noted that the Township has closed on the Wright property and thanked Mr. Buzak and his staff for their efforts.
Councilman Algeier asked the Manager to provide a current map of Randolph’s green space.
Councilwoman Mitsch stated that at the recent Environmental Commission meeting, Mr. Carney noted that information provided by the Highlands Council regarding Randolph’s waste water, sewer service areas, and public water access is grossly inaccurate. Therefore, studies being conducted in preparation for the Council’s ultimate determination to either opt in to the Highlands or not will be delayed and they have filed for an extension. As an aside, grant money provided by the Highlands for these studies will not cover the actual cost of implementing those studies. The Councilwoman noted that there is a vacancy on the Recreation Committee due to a recent resignation.
Councilwoman Mitsch nominated Ned Levine as a member of the Recreation Committee. Councilman Algeier seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Alpert
Mayor Metz thanked the Randolph Reporter for their article advertising the email alert system. Over 500 families have signed up for the system to date.
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:
B. Randolph Mountain
C. Bailey v. Randolph Township, et al
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.
Councilwoman Mitsch made a motion to move into Executive Session at 9:10 p.m. Deputy Mayor Alpert seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Alpert
Councilwoman Mitsch made a motion to move into Public Session at 10:10 p.m. Councilwoman Price seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Alpert
The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 10:10 p.m.
Donna Marie Luciani