All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: July 23, 2020
A. OPENING OF REGULAR MEETING
1. Call to Order
A regular meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 5:00 p.m. by Mayor Carey. 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 November 6th, 2019 by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on November 5th, 2019. The annual resolution, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph on November 14th, 2019, and the Daily Record on November 11th, 2019. The time change for this meeting was advertised on the Township website on July 16th, 2020, emailed to TapInto Randolph on July 16th, 2020, and emailed to the Randolph Reporter and Daily Record on July 16th, 2020; it was advertised in the Daily Record on July 20th, 2020.
2. Roll Call
Councilman Forstenhausler - Via Zoom
Councilwoman Potter - Via Zoom
Councilman Tkacs - Via Zoom
Deputy Mayor Veech - Via Zoom
Also present: Township Manager Mountain and Attorney Ed Buzak from the Buzak Law Group via Zoom.
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Carey led the Pledge of Allegiance.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Mrs. Jeanette Hernandez was acknowledged for wanting to speak during this public session; however, due to technical difficulties it was suggested that she attempt her comments during the second public session of this council meeting.
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. MANAGER’S REPORT
Manager Mountain reported the following:
COVID-19 Update—0 confirmed cases were reported today, and only four confirmed cases were reported over the past week bringing the township’s COVID-19 case total to 324, of those cases 299 individuals who had the illness have recovered. The Health Department staff continues to trace cases aggressively which has contributed to the township’s ability to manage the spread of the illness in the community over recent weeks. He reminded businesses and residents to remain vigilant in adhering to social distancing guidelines to ensure that the township maintains the positive position we are in over the coming weeks.
Road Overlay Program—the township has tentatively scheduled with Tilcon to begin milling the roads planned for resurfacing this year. The milling is expected to begin the first week of August; paving work will continue through the month into early September. He estimated that all the roads outlined in the program will be completed by mid-September, with the exception of maybe one or two that require the completion of additional work before the paving can commence.
Brush Grinding—the contractor began work on grinding the brush stored at the DPW yard in early July. The DPW has restarted the delivery of mulch after having to suspend the service in June when materials had run out. He suggested that if anyone knows of residents interested in having mulch delivered should submit their requests as soon as they can as it goes very quickly.
Rotary Club—the Rotary Club has made the decision to cancel this year’s Country Fair. In its stead they are exploring smaller outdoor events that can be conducted with advanced ticketing to control the size of the gathering. One such idea involves local restaurants; however, they haven’t announced anything yet as they are waiting for confirmation from businesses. The event would be conducted by reservation and would include social distancing measures. He will provide updates to Council as the plans further develop.
Cell Tower—JCP&L has been able to bring power to the cell tower. Once power lines are in place, AT&T will be able to install their antenna and associated equipment. Verizon has also notified the township of their intent to sign the lease agreement, allowing them to become the second carrier on the tower. He reminded the Council that when the bid for tower carriers went out, Verizon was the second lowest bidder, enabling them the right to sign the lease agreement. Verizon had held off executing the agreement, but now that the tower is installed they verified that they would have it executed by the end of September. There are also plans to put out another bid in the fall to enable any other carriers that might have interest in the tower. The hope is to have three carriers on the tower by sometime next year, which will improve cell coverage in the township, the area of town hall, and the high school.
JCP&L Intergovernmental Affairs Representative—he and Mayor Carey met with the township’s JCP&L representative, Bob Flynn. Mr. Flynn has been reassigned to a new set of municipalities; he served Randolph well in his short time as its liaison. Mr. Flynn introduced the township’s new JCP&L representative, Jose Ortiz. Manager Mountain explained that Mr. Ortiz has been with the company since 2015; he was impressed with the experience and the approach Mr. Ortiz took in the meeting and felt he will provide the same good customer service as Mr. Flynn. Mr. Flynn will remain in the area to help with transitional issues. Mr. Ortiz’s position as the township’s JCP&L liaison is effective immediately; he looks forward to meeting with the Council once regular meetings resume.
Mayor Carey asked about the success of the drive-in movie event held at CCM on July 17th. Manager Mountain replied that the event was a success and many residents shared positive feedback on social media about their experience. The township is looking into the possibility of holding another event before the end of summer.
D. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
1. Approval of the Council Budget Meeting Minutes of February 22, 2020
2. Approval of the Regular Council Meeting Minutes of April 2, 2020, May 7, 2020, May 21, 2020, and June 4, 2020
Councilman Loveys made a motion to approve the Budget Meeting minutes from February 22, 2020, and the Regular Meeting minutes from April 2, 2020, May 7, 2020, May 21, 2020, and June 4, 2020. Councilman Nisivoccia seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech
E. COMBINED ACTION RESOLUTIONS
Item #31, R-230-20: Councilman Loveys asked for clarification on the Pulte Homes performance guarantee for on-site water and sanitary sewer improvements; he recalled that a performance guarantee was already released. Manager Mountain explained that the previous one was for off-site and that there are multiple releases going on at present; this action is for on-site.
- R-200-20 Release of police detail escrow to County College of Morris—$720.00
- R-201-20 Refund the $139.00 application fee paid for gas log fireplace inserts at 4 Fieldstone Ct., less the $4.00 DCA fee and $28.00—20% plan review fee to Robert and Jillian Granik—$107.00
- R-202-20 Refund parent/guardian registration fees paid for various recreation programs due to withdrawal and cancellation as a result of Covid-19—$3,530.00
- R-203-20 Awarding a maintenance contract for township’s Fire Apparatus (Rebid) for August 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, to Fire & Safety Services, Ltd.—not to exceed $10,000.00
- R-204-20 Refund a tapping fee to connect to the township water service at 38 Fords Road due to the tapping fee not being required to John Carlson—$300.00
- R-205-20 Authorizing the award to several bidders and rejection to United Sales USA for MCCPC Contract #25 (Janitorial Supplies)
- R-206-20 Authorizing the award of MCCPC Contract #42 (Landscaping Materials and Supplies) to various bidders
- R-207-20 Redeem and refund Tax Sale Certificate #2002 for Block 82, Lot 93.01, 259 Dover-Chester Rd to EB 1EMINJ LLC—$16,051.54
- R-208-20 Release cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of resurfacing the driveway at 7 Andrews Rd., Block 163, Lot 3 to Richard Jecmen—$500.00
- R-209-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of resurfacing the driveway at 28 Phyllis Place, Block 121, Lot 33.09 to Sinache General Contractors—$500.00
- R-210-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of replacing a retaining wall at 80 Logan Road, Block 21, Lot 147 to Robert Nimeth—$500.00
- R-211-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of replacing Belgian block curbing at 8 Matthew Ct., Block 53, Lot 56.04 to Francis Esposito—$500.00
- R-212-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of replacing curbing at 172 Morris Tpke. Block 47, Lot 14 to Garden State Paving—$500.00
- R-213-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township water service at 59 Lawrence Road, Block 115, Lot 30 to JCS Construction—$500.00
- R-214-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township water service at 68 Old Brookside Rd., Block 93, Lot 29 to Jonathan Lewis—$500.00
- R-215-20 Authorizing contracts with additional approved ESCNJ contract vendors under the Educational Services Commission of NJ Cooperative Pricing System (ESCNJ) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11(5)
- R-216-20 Authorizing contracts with an additional approved State contract vendor for contracting units pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-12a
- R-217-20 Authorizing contracts with additional approved contract vendors under the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council (MCCPC) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11(5)
- R-218-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service and township water service at 38 Old Shunpike Rd., Block 103, Lot 16—to Prestige Country Homes—$500.00
- R-219-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service at 8 A Knights Bridge Dr. to Margaret Swartwood—$500.00
- R-220-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service at 10 Brookside Rd., Block 101, Lot 20 to Sophie Dyer—$500.00
- R-221-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service and township water service at 40 Old Shunpike Road., Block 103, Lot 15—to Prestige Country Homes—$500.00
- R-222-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service and township water service at 2 Carellen Place., Block 103, Lot 14—to Prestige Country Homes—$500.00
- R-223-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service and township water service at 4 Carellen Place., Block 103, Lot 13—to Prestige Country Homes—$500.00
- R-224-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service and township water service at 58 Old Brookside Rd., Block 93, Lot 23—to Prestige Country Homes—$500.00
- R-225-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of resurfacing the driveway at 133 Shady Lane, Block 176, Lot 93 to Drina Gluneri—$500.00
- R-226-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of resurfacing the driveway at 3 Ellam Drive, Block 21.09, Lot 17 to John Crisologo—$500.00
- R-227-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township water service at 307 Millbrook Avenue, Block 112.01, Lot 50 to Michael Montoya—$500.00
- R-228-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of connecting to the township sanitary sewer service at 55 Shongum Road, Block 201, Lot 62 to Ed Burns—$500.00
- R-229-20 Authorizing the settlement of certain residential tax appeals for Block 18.01, Lot 1.03, 6 Middlebury Blvd. for Eugeniuz and Sophia Kozak
- R-230-20 Release of performance guarantee for on-site water and sanitary sewer improvements—Pulte Group- Kensington Square, Block 101, Lot 22.01
Councilman Loveys made a motion to approve the Combined Actions Resolutions. Councilman Nisivoccia seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Councilman Forstenhausler (Abstained to #4, R-203-20)
Deputy Mayor Veech
F. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Jeannette Hernandez of 35 Peace Road stated:
“Good Evening, my name is Jeanette Hernandez; I’m at 35 Peace Road, candidate for Town Council, and I would like to address the council regarding the ongoing issues of racism in our community. New Jersey, like the rest of the country, has a long history of systemic racism dating back to its colonial roots. I learned recently that the first recorded owner of African slaves in New Jersey was Colonel Lewis Morris, the British governor after whom Morris County is named, and we are still living the effects of that legacy today. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 21 hate groups currently operating in New Jersey, that’s more than Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, or South Carolina. The Anti-Defamation League reported 216 incidents of hate, extremism, and anti-Semitism in New Jersey just last year. Of the eight incidents in Morris County, two happened right here in Randolph.
According to the New Jersey Department of Civil Rights, Morris County experienced a whopping 68% increase in reported bias incidents between 2017 and 2018, which was double the rate of increase statewide. Sixty percent of those, six-zero percent, of those incidents were motivated by race or ethnicity, 21% by religion and 16% by sexual orientation. The U.S. News and World Report rates Morris County at 49 out of 100 for equity, and income, education, health and social equality, and just 20 points out of 100 for educational equality. We score worse than the national average on their index for segregation and worse than both national and state averages on their index for racial disparity in educational attainment. My intention isn’t to paint an overly dire picture, but to illustrate that despite the progress we’ve made, prejudice and institutional inequality are indeed still flourishing all around us. I’m sure none of the information I cited comes as any surprise to the many people who endure these realties every day.
But my point is that, when you’re surrounded by more hate groups than Alabama, you’ve got to work pretty hard to stick your head far down enough in the sand not to be aware of what’s going on. Which brings me to this, it seems, based on my research, the deeply rooted problem of racism in this town, has never been on the council’s radar. Prior to the incident in May where a group of white boys made racist comments to a black school mate on Instagram, it looked like only one Council member has gone on record denouncing racism and prejudice in the last decade. At the special Town Council meeting on June 4th held in response to this incident, Councilman Forstenhausler publicly stated he had no idea racism even existed in Randolph, yet just one week later, Mayor, you appointed him to the newly created Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC).
At that same meeting, one resident made a lengthy public comment espousing baseless conspiracy theories that systemic racism doesn’t exist. You thanked him for his comments, but said nothing in response to repudiate or even correct his misinformation; your silence, Mayor Carey, spoke volumes. And recently your DISC appointee Councilman Forstenhausler came under fire for allowing numerous racist comments to remain posted for days at a time on a Randolph Conservatives Facebook group that he was the admin for. The group has since been disbanded, but I’m not aware of any statements by the Council publicly denouncing, or better yet, apologizing for this gross lapse of judgment. I want to know Mayor Carey, how you think your responses to these situations have demonstrated the leadership principles of equity, inclusion, and sensitivity towards the people you serve, especially in light of your willingness to turn a blind eye to these issues for so many years.”
Mayor Carey replied to Ms. Hernandez that she disagreed with many of her comments, but understood her purpose. She explained that when people speak before the Council, they respect their opinions and try not to disagree. The Mayor stated that she was not aware of the issues raised surrounding Councilman Forstenhausler. He, along with other Council members, volunteered to be on the committee established in conjunction with the school district, and she was very happy to have him volunteer. Mayor Carey explained that the Council in general, and she specifically, condemn all kinds of racism, discrimination, bigotry and hatred as demonstrated at the passing of the resolution on June 4th and continuing to date. In the past, with previous members and mayors, the Council has condemned anything that was brought to their attention. Mayor Carey stated that she could think of many instances where the Council talked about things that have happened in the world, in our country, in our state, and they condemned them. The Council has continued to treat people in the community fairly and equally. They have attended every kind of culturally diverse event including celebrating Martin Luther King Day with the high school, participating in the Black Lives Matter march, participating in Diwali Day, Menorah Lighting, Christmas Tree Lighting, and Ramadan Celebrations. The Council takes every opportunity they have to embrace the diversity in Randolph and to wholeheartedly condemn any kind of bigotry, hatred, prejudice, discrimination based on race, color, religion, and sexual orientation.
Councilman Loveys stated that he recalled condemning racism, bigotry, and hatred with specific respect to some of the incidents that were targeted toward the Jewish community toward the end of last year and even previous to that. He explained that both he and Councilman Forstenhausler had attended several synagogues that held sessions just for that purpose, to bring communities together, to denounce it as a group, and to not stand for racism, bigotry and hatred. Councilman Loveys stated that he disagreed with Ms. Hernandez’s statement as well.
Mayor Carey added that she and many of the Council members attended the County-sponsored anti-hate rally held at Gottesman Academy in January. She concluded that at every opportunity the Council has had to speak out, they have.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
G. COUNCIL COMMENTS
Councilwoman Potter had nothing to report.
Councilman Tkacs reported that the Planning Board did not meet due to there being no new business. Councilman Tkacs also reported that the Recreation Committee did not meet due to lack of a quorum.
Councilman Tkacs commented that Councilman Forstenhausler will be providing a statement on the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC). However, Councilman Tkacs stated that he, Councilman Forstenhausler and Councilwoman Potter have spent a significant amount of time ensuring that the DISC stays on-topic and focused while proceeding. They have attended meetings both at the municipal building and via Zoom, and have communicated via hundreds of emails to accomplish this task. The DISC looks forward to continuing the good works and good efforts.
Councilman Forstenhausler stated that he personally found it troubling that people come up with political statements during an election year, yet they are not around when it’s not an election year. Councilman Forstenhausler stated that there were absolutely inappropriate racist and extremely troubling comments posted on the Randolph Conservative Page; however, as soon as those comments were made aware and discovered by moderators, those comments were not only deleted but the entire Facebook Page was taken down. He explained that none of those comments were made by the moderators; people were exercising their free speech which the moderators thought were inappropriate and the page was removed completely. Councilman Forstenhausler stated that he was co-moderator of that page, and reiterated that the page was completely taken down as soon as the moderators were aware of those comments. He explained that most pages have regulations and rules about what is allowed and what is not, and although it no longer exists, that page had specific rules and regulations. The people who posted those troubling and racist comments broke all the rules of the page. He stated that not everyone can control everything people say.
Councilman Forstenhausler addressed the point about never speaking out against racism—another political attack job. He explained that the comment is not true; when he was Mayor, there were shootings at synagogues. Following those incidents, he spoke at several different synagogues, and he was actually complimented by one of the candidates running for council this year, Josh Weiner. Mr. Weiner thanked him for coming to his synagogue and speaking against racism, anti-Semitism, and against all forms of bias. Councilman Forstenhausler explained that if anyone does some research, they will see that the Council has addressed this many, many times. Councilman Forstenhausler stated that as far as the comment about him having no idea there was racism in the township, it was an absolute untrue quote, he never said it. He saw it published online and on social media; he even went back and researched it because he knew he did not say it. He suggested that people could file an OPRA request; he reiterated that the quote will not be anywhere because he never said it.
Councilman Forstenhausler concurred with Councilman Tkacs as far as the significant amount of time the members of the DISC have dedicated to work on everything they can possibly do to try to address the issue in a logical, clear way. They also heard from the Human Relations Commission early on, with what they recommended as far as a logical way to go about this. Councilman Forstenhausler explained that he has a statement to read from the DISC; the statement took quite a while to draft, and should make things very clear as to where the committee currently stands. Councilman Forstenhausler complimented all the volunteers on the committee, including those from the Township Council, the Board of Education (BOE), and the Human Relations Commission; all of the members are completely dedicated to determining what to do to try to eliminate these acts of racism and bias. Councilman Forstenhausler read the statement from the BOE and Township Council members of the DISC into the record:
“The Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC) held the first of a series of intimate Town Halls on Tuesday, July 14. The overall objective of these Town Halls is to encourage participants to talk open and honestly about their experiences without judgment, bias, or preconceived notions.
Fifteen Community members participated in the first Town Hall. In order to help open the dialogue, the moderators—members of the Morris County Human Relations Commission (HRC)—guided the discussion on the following themes:
- Experiences—Do you have a personal story to share about instances in Randolph of acts of bias based on race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity?
- Governance—Are there laws, procedures or policies in place that cause barriers to reporting acts of bias or that directly or indirectly create an atmosphere or culture of bias?
- Aspirations—Do you have a dream of what the Randolph community and school district should be?
At the conclusion of the Town Hall, participants were asked to complete a short survey to help inform future Town Halls. We will be announcing dates and times for additional Town Halls in the future, along with information about how to participate.
Every member of the DISC is committed to our mission:
To work toward the goal of eliminating acts of bias based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity in Randolph Township by understanding their causes and identifying solutions. We seek to make recommendations for policies, practices, and procedures in order to interrupt and eradicate racism, bigotry and prejudice in Randolph Township.
Recently, the DISC has witnessed many offensive posts on a variety of media platforms. These posts have inflicted pain and damage on our community and have deeply impacted members of our committee. The lack of civility and respect we have seen from some residents must come to an end. As members of the DISC, we implore all our community members to be kind and respectful to one another, and to ensure that our cultural diversity remains a strong and cherished asset in Randolph Township. We recognize that moderators and social media network providers have a role in ensuring peaceful and healthy dialogue. We also believe in everyone’s right to free speech. With that right comes an obligation to participate in civil and respectful discourse that can lead to the elimination and interruption of systemic racism or other forms of bias. HATE has no place in Randolph.” (end of statement)
Councilman Forstenhausler reported that he attended the Trails Committee meeting; there was discussion on the status of e-bikes, which are electric bikes that are becoming more and more popular. This discussion was initiated by the Police Department based upon a question they had received, and forwarded to the Trails Committee. It was determined by the Trails Committee that e-bikes are considered motorized vehicles as defined by township ordinance, and therefore are not permitted on the trails.
Councilman Nisivoccia had nothing to report.
Councilman Loveys attended the Wildlife Management committee meeting. Discussed were the rules and regulations for the upcoming hunt as well as the logistics concerning the hunter meeting to be held on July 29th at Freedom Park. Permits will be issued at the meeting; there are currently 64 hunters being issued permits for the 2020-2021 hunt season with approximately 10 on a waiting list. These numbers are consistent with the last several years.
Deputy Mayor Veech reported that the Veterans Community Park is moving along nicely; there is a subcommittee working on the plans for a dedication. Also, the Randolph Community Garden will be providing produce to the food bank at Homeless Solutions in Morris County. Gardeners that want to donate produce, the committee is determining the logistics for pickup and delivery. Of the 168 garden beds, 151 have been leased.
Mayor Carey reported that on Monday, July 13th, there was a town hall meeting with Congresswoman Sherrill regarding COVID-19. Congresswoman Sherrill invited Mayor Carey, Senator Bucco, Meghan Hunscher from the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Jason Kessler from Morristown Memorial Hospital to participate. The meeting lasted less than one hour; however, a lot of Randolph residents called in. At one point there were approximately 110 callers; there were many questions asked and all of them were not able to be addressed in the short time. Congresswoman Sherrill’s office was going to follow up with people directly to try and get them the information they needed. Mayor Carey thought the meeting was definitely worthwhile and successful, and hoped many Randolph residents got something out of it.
Mayor Carey also reported that she was invited by a couple of teachers to listen to a video presentation by rising first- and second-graders who were involved in a summer enrichment program. They had made a PowerPoint presentation that was so great; it was so cute, adorable, but very smart and creative students. They were supposed to determine how they can play safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them designed masks, some designed devices to be able to tell if they were 6 feet from someone else, and some developed games that were played safely without physical contact. They had several staff members, Superintendent Fano, and Board President Mackay also listen to the video presentation. The Mayor was very impressed with the presentation.
There were no other comments from the Township Council.
H. EXECUTIVE SESSION
There was no Executive Session.
Mayor Carey asked for a motion to adjourn. Township Clerk Donna Luciani noted that Jeanette Hernandez had her hand up again. Mayor Carey asked for a motion to adjourn.
Councilman Forstenhausler made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Councilman Loveys seconded the motion. Mayor Carey noted that there was no public session at this time. Township Clerk Luciani asked Jeanette Hernandez if she wanted to speak since her hand was up. Mayor Carey allowed Jeanette Hernandez to speak.
Ms. Hernandez stated, “I just wanted to address the claim that my statement was nothing more than a political gambit. I’m still a resident of this town, I’m still part of the 20% of this town who belongs to a minority group I have a right to address my council and hold them accountable for their current and past actions.”
Township Clerk Luciani explained to Ms. Hernandez that she truly understood; however, that is why there are sessions open to the public, and unfortunately that session had now closed.
Mayor Carey thanked Ms. Hernandez for her comments. She confirmed with Township Clerk Luciani that there had already been a motion to adjourn that had been seconded. The following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech