All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: March 19, 2020
A. OPENING OF REGULAR MEETING
1. Call to Order
A regular meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 7:00 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 6, 2019 by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on November 5, 2019. The annual resolution, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, and the Daily Record on November 14, 2019.
2. Roll Call
Councilman Forstenhausler—By Phone
Councilman Loveys—By Phone
Councilman Nisivoccia—By Phone
Councilwoman Potter—By Phone
Councilman Tkacs—By Phone
Deputy Mayor Veech—By Phone
Also present: Township Manager Mountain, Chief Financial Officer Darren Maloney and Attorney Ed Buzak from the Buzak Law Group by Phone
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Carey led the Pledge of Allegiance.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. MANAGER’S REPORT
Manager Mountain reported the following:
Coronavirus Update—As of March 19th, there are 742 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, 26 of which are in Morris County. This includes a 6th confirmed case in Randolph-an individual in the age range of 26-71 who is not hospitalized. All individuals considered to be close contacts of the confirmed cases are in the process of being reached and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Of the six cases in Randolph to date, three are related and the others are unrelated.
He continued to report that the township acknowledges that residents are concerned about contact with those who have tested positive, however, pursuant to state and federal law, the township is prohibited from releasing the identity or any identifying details associated with these individuals.
Randolph School District Announces Two-Week Closure—The Randolph Township School District announced that beginning on March 16th, Randolph Public Schools will be closing and remaining closed through Friday, March 27, 2020. The district will be following its remote instruction plan during the two week closure period. School administration will continue to monitor conditions in the community over the two week period, and will provide an update on or before Thursday, March 26th regarding the status of the situation. While schools are closed, all extracurricular, athletic, and community school events are cancelled. School facilities are also closed to all outside organizations during this time. Information on the district’s Health Preparedness Plan can be viewed on the Randolph Township Schools website.
All Township Non-Essential Programs, Activities and Events Cancelled/Postponed for Two-Weeks—On the guidance of the Randolph Township Health Department, all township non-essential programs, activities and events have been cancelled or postponed for the next two weeks. The situation will be reassessed at the end of this period and a decision will be made on or before Friday, March 27, 2020, as to whether this action will continue beyond the two week period. A listing of all programs, activities and events impacted by this decision will be posted shortly on the township website. Township meetings scheduled for this period are still on as scheduled, but residents should monitor the township website and other media for any changes that may be necessary to this plan.
Municipal Court—No municipal court sessions will be held starting immediately through April 1, 2020. As of now, the next tentative court date will be April 15, 2020. The office is open regular hours and residents are encouraged to utilize the phone or the NJMCdirect.com website for payments.
Township Municipal Offices, Facilities and Services—Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, the township implemented restrictions on public access for all public facilities (municipal building, DPW, library, community center, VFW, animal shelter and Brundage Park Playhouse). The recycling center will be open during regular business hours. Staff at all facilities will be continuing to work normal hours; however, access to the facilities will be managed by appointment only. The restrictions will be in place through April 1st. A reassessment will be conducted at that time and the restrictions will either be extended or lifted based upon the results of that situational assessment. Residents are encouraged to utilize online service options wherever possible and to call or e-mail the relevant department regarding any other matters of business.
In addition, the township trails will remain open, however, park facilities (athletic and turf fields; basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts; restrooms; playgrounds; pavilions; skate park; lacrosse rink; and gazebo) at Brundage Park/Preserve, Freedom Park, Heistein Park, Kiwanis Park, Brundage Sussex, Randolph Park and Tamarack will be closed in order to eliminate additional points of high community traffic. Residents with questions regarding these parks and recreation restrictions may call the Randolph Township Recreation Department at 973.989.7081.
State Actions—The State has established numerous restrictions to safeguard public health in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, these restrictions will be reported to the community as the State provides updates.
All residents and business owners should be advised that on Monday, March 16, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 104 in response to the Novel Coronavirus - COVID-19, establishing the following restrictions, prohibitions and recommendations for specified businesses, schools and the general population:
- New Jersey will be joining New York and Connecticut in closing down movie theaters, gyms, fitness centers and entertainment centers effective Thursday, March 19th at 8:00 p.m. and will remain closed moving forward.
- Gatherings larger than 50 people will be prohibited.
- All public, private and parochial preschool program premises and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall be closed to students beginning on Wednesday, March 18th and shall remain closed.
- All restaurants, dining establishments and food courts are permitted to operate their normal business hours, but are limited to offering only food delivery and/or take-out services.
- Establishments such as grocery/food stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations, healthcare facilities and ancillary stores within healthcare facilities will not be affected by the mandatory 8:00 p.m. closures. They will remain open to provide services for all residents.
- The governor recommends that people should not travel between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- Governor Murphy has asked President Trump for the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in constructing temporary hospitals to ensure greater regional preparedness and help alleviate the strain on NJ hospitals.
- Effective 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 18th, all indoor retail shopping malls, amusement parks and amusement centers across New Jersey were closed. Workers whose place of employment has closed, or whose hours have been cut as a result of COVID-19 are, in all likelihood, eligible to receive either full or partial unemployment insurance. The governor is asking the federal government for assistance in ensuring that every unemployment insurance application is properly received and handled.
- If your job has been directly impacted, visit nj.gov/labor for comprehensive information from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
- A new page has been created to offer guidance to all businesses being impacted by COVID-19 at http://cv.business.nj.gov.
- To apply for unemployment insurance, please visit MyUnemployment.nj.gov.
- In addition, the state’s economic team is working alongside the U.S. Small Business Administration to ensure that available financial relief can flow into New Jersey as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- The state’s human services commissioner announced today that there are new amendments to the Child Care Subsidy Program. The revised program will help provide access to critical child care subsidies while eligible parents attend jobs. For details, please visit https://bit.ly/2IVMjix.
On the testing front, mobile testing centers will open shortly in areas in Morris County and across the state. In the meantime, please remember to call your health care provider before arriving at a facility to be evaluated for any potential case of COVID-19.
Effective tonight at 8:00 p.m., Governor Murphy ordered the closure of all personal-care businesses and social clubs which cannot comply with social distancing guidelines until further notice. These include barber shops, hair salons, spas, nail and eyelash salons and tattoo parlors.
Manager Mountain recognized the hard work and dedication of the township staff most particularly the work of the township’s Public Health Nurses, Ginny Maico and Beverly Mooney, and Health Officer, Mark Caputo, stating that they have responded to this public health emergency by working countless hours to provide services to those in need.
He continued on to recognize the Township Council for their efforts in keeping the community informed and providing steady leadership during this unique time. Manager Mountain also acknowledged the work of multiple township committees who have been helpful in addressing some of the impacts the pandemic is having on sectors of the community, some of which include the township’s Economic Development Committee and the NJ211 Committee.
Manager Mountain concluded his report, expressing that the challenges of this pandemic would continue to be met with the efforts and hard work of the individuals and entities he previously mentioned. Though there are still many challenges ahead, he reported that he is confident that if the township continues with its efforts it will become an even stronger community in the end.
Councilman Forstenhausler relayed a question from a resident inquiring about the possibility of any additional assistance that can be given to the community’s local business from the township or township council, recognizing that most aid will come from state and federal levels.
Manager Mountain responded that the township will be brainstorming and putting together objectives and sharing the suggestions with State Legislators. As another suggestion, there was contemplation about reaching out to landlords within the community to examine what they may be able to accomplish with assistance from the township. Manger Mountain concluded his response explaining that assistance is not something the township can unilaterally accomplish, the township would need to work with local businesses, our communities economic/business support entities, and the state.
Deputy Mayor Veech asked what the suggestions are for residents who are feeling ill or seeking testing, where they should go, and who they should seek information from. Manager Mountain responded that presently it is best for these individuals to seek advice from their primary care physician as they remain the first point of contact for the testing process.
Deputy Mayor Veech continued to ask for further elaboration of how the municipal building will continue to operate as it is closed to the public. Manager Mountain responded that the township staff is encouraging residents to call or email departments before they make a trip to the building as there are many services the township can provide over these communication tools. He continued to explain that if residents require a service that cannot be completed over phone or email or the resident did not realize that the building was closed, they may contact the Township Clerk’s office as they will be screening calls to ensure the service is completed. Additionally the Municipal Building has a drop box placed in the front of the building to collect payments, permits, etc. He also added that the Randolph Library would be providing similar social distancing services, allowing residents to pick up and drop off books without entering the building. All municipal field services will continue to operate with some modifications set in place, with home inspections only being conducted in the case of emergencies. Police, Fire and EMS will continue to operate usual services with the added caution of asking residents for details to determine the level of protection they may need when responding.
Mayor Carey recognized Manger Mountain for the great work he has been doing round the clock during this difficult time. In addition she asked that he relay thanks to the township staff on behalf of the Council.
D. 2020 MUNICIPAL BUDGET INTRODUCTION & CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Manager Mountain explained that the budget process and hitting our financial goals is one of the top priorities in the township’s annual list of goals. He thanked Darren Maloney and the finance staff for their work in putting the budget together. He reported that the township ended the past year in a strong financial position, and that the budget being introduced in this meeting reflects the financial strength of the town. He further explained that the township was able to maintain its service levels while placing a good amount of the funds from this budget towards the investment and the community’s core facilities and infrastructure. He added that the other goal for this budget process was to maintain a stable municipal tax levy, which the township was successful in achieving, as the municipal portion of the 2020 tax rate for the average home will not be increasing as a result of this budget.
He continued to explain that further detail about the budget will be presented during the budget hearing on the 23rd of April. He notified the council that the State has discussed the possibility of delaying deadlines and giving towns more room, if need be, to hold off on the adoption of the budget. Manager Mountain stated that they would keep an eye on these deadlines, and that it was his preference to be doing this presentation when all members of the public have an opportunity to be present for the presentation and the remarks that they will be making.
He reported that the total operating budget for this year totals roughly $32,559,459.00. The Water & Sewer budget totals $9,074,974.00; this contains no major changes or service reductions as explained before. The township will continue to maintain the funding of key township infrastructure. He continued to explain that the strong financial position of the township will help us in the uncertain times we are about to enter. He mentioned that he was asked by a few members of the council about revenue projections, and stated that after discussion with staff and colleagues, and the examination of the current uncertain times, they do not want to adjust this year’s revenue projections without knowing how the State will handle the cap, changing the budget to reflect revenue changes we are uncertain of could adversely affect the township. It was decided that these projections remain as is, as nothing we do now on the projection side will make constructing the 2021 budget any easier.
Manager Mountain then continued to discuss levels of appropriation. He reported that we have managed to hold on to our overall expenditures, equal to or below the 2%. There are some additional expenses associated with it, which were anticipated. Recycling continues to be an expense challenge as opposed to a revenue boom. Public Security at public events is also a cost challenge. He discussed briefly that some investments on the capital side would be made again, and though it does present some increases they are non-recurring placing the township in the comfortable position of pulling them back in future years if needed.
He reported that there is a resolution we are putting on based on state guidance that will allow the township to utilize the snow removal reserve for the current public health emergency, a similar flexibility which was also provided during Hurricane Sandy. This reserve will fund emergency type expenditures that we may have to engage in due to the current health crisis. If we do become eligible for federal reimbursement which is very likely given the decelerations on the federal and state level, it may be over what we anticipated spending for the year on this emergency. It is an unanticipated expense but we are covered now that we have the flexibility presuming the councils support for the resolution to be able to spend against that reserve as opposed to pulling down budget line items that were intended for other purposes.
Manager Mountain continued with an overview of the Water & Sewer Budgets, explaining that both continue to be in very sound financial condition. The rate changes that the council adopted last year should help on the water side. Projects for both Water and Sewer are anticipated for this year. He expressed his appreciation for the diligent manner in which the council approached this year’s budget process, and for their support in examining every aspect of the budget.
Deputy Mayor Veech asked for further detail about what the public health and safety costs that will be charged to the Snow Removal Trust fund will be. Manager Mountain reported the costs that we presently anticipate include a fairly large cleaning/sanitization cost for township facilities, which will allow them to continue to provide services safely without providing opportunity for the virus to spread. Additionally the township will be ordering supplies needed to continue to maintain the township’s emergency services. He added that unanticipated costs will most likely come up as the situation develops.
Manager Mountain read the 2020 Municipal Budget Resolution into the record.
Councilman Forstenhausler made a motion to introduce the 2020 Municipal Budget Introduction & Capital Improvement Program. Councilman Tkacs seconded the motion.
E. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
1. Approving the Minutes of the Regular Council Meeting held on January 23, 2020
Deputy Mayor Veech made a motion to approve the minutes from the January 23, 2020 Regular Council meeting. Councilman Nisivoccia seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech
F. COMBINED ACTION RESOLUTIONS
- R-102-20 Refund a portion of escrow funds, plus interest, for 906 Route 10, Block 44, Lots 1, 2 and 56 to 10 East Realty, LLC—$668.23
- R-103-20 Refund a portion of registration fee for Summer Day Camp program to Kayra Davila—$1,085.00
- R-104-20 Refund a portion of registration fee for Summer Day Camp to Jacob Sohigian—$905.00
- R-105-20 Refund a portion of escrow funds for 1450 Sussex Turnpike, Block 21, Lot 24 to Teza Group—$430.58
- R-106-20 Refund a portion of escrow funds for 18 Arthur Lane, Block 121, Lot 32 to Communication Infrastructure Corp.—$133.18
- R-107-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of installing a driveway for a new construction home at 16 Waterfall Dr., Block 52, Lot 2.06 to AMPM Construction, LLC—$500.00
- R-108-20 Refund a tax sale certificate for 1483 Sussex Turnpike, Block 20, Lot 10, 1483 Sussex Turnpike, including interest and a premium to Trystone Capital Assets, LLC—$20,821.54
- R-109-20 Refund a tax sale certificate for 35 Shongum Road, Block 119, Lot 289, including interest and a premium to US Bank cust for Pro Cap 8, LLC—$12,216.13
- R-110-20 Refund payment made in error for 4 Laurel Hill Drive, Block 121, Lot 68.02 to Matthew T. Brown—$216.07
- R-111-20 Refund cash road opening bond posted for the purpose of installing a driveway for a new construction home at Waterfall Drive, Block 52, Lot 2.07 to AMPM Construction, LLC—$500.00
- R-112-20 Resolution allowing Coronavirus expenses to be charged to the Township’s Snow Removal Trust Fund
- Raffle License: On-Premise 50/50, Morris County Retirees Education Assoc. Philanthropic Fund, Inc. at the Meadow Wood, 461 Route 10 East, Randolph, on June 10, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
- Raffle License: On-Premise Merchandise, Morris County Retirees Education Assoc. Philanthropic Fund, Inc. at the Meadow Wood, 461 Route 10 East, Randolph, on June 10, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
- Raffle License: On Premise 50/50, Greek Orthodox Community Center, at Greek Orthodox Community Center of Randolph, 1447 Sussex Turnpike, Randolph on May 8, 2020, from 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
- Raffle License: Tricky Tray, Greek Orthodox Community Center, at the Greek Orthodox Community Center of Randolph, 1447 Sussex Turnpike, Randolph on May 8, 2020, from 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Councilman Loveys made a motion to approve the Combined Actions Resolutions. Councilwoman Potter seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech
G. UPCOMING EVENTS
- CANCELLED EVENT—Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce; Randolph Business After Hours Networking Event on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at Brightview
- CANCELLED EVENT—Randolph PTO Council All In Fundraiser on Friday, March 27, 2020, from 6:45 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. at the Hanover Marriot on Route 10, Whippany, NJ
- CANCELLED EVENT—Brundage Park Playhouse Special Fundraiser to Benefit Theater; Nick Galletta—Rocking with the Oldies on Sunday, March 29, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. Tickets—$15.00—Call for tickets: 973-989-7092
- PENDING - Library Event: A Cappella Quartet - Moderately Bright Four, Sunday, April 19, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.—Registration required by calling 973-895-3556
H. ORDINANCE: SECOND READING/PUBLIC HEARING
1. Ordinance No. 03-20 An Ordinance Amending section 15-90, Administration and Enforcement of the Land Development Ordinance of the Township of Randolph by the Addition of Section 15-90.10, Enforcement of Affordable Housing Regulations
Manager Mountain explained:
The ordinance could not be moved on during this council meeting as the Planning Board did not meet. He suggested that this ordinance be discussed during the April 23rd Council meeting. Township Attorney Ed Buzak confirmed that this was permissible.
BE IT RESOLVED, that an Ordinance entitled “An Ordinance Amending Section 15-90, Administration and Enforcement of the Land Development Ordinance of the Township of Randolph by the Addition of Section 15-90.10, Enforcement of Affordable Housing Regulations” be tabled until the April 23rd, 2020, Council meeting.
Deputy Mayor Veech made a motion to table the ordinance until a future meeting. Councilman Forstenhausler seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech
I. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
J. COUNCIL COMMENTS
Councilman Nisivoccia reported that he covered the Board of Health meeting in the place of Councilman Loveys the previous week, the meeting discussed COVID-19 in great length. He also added that although the library has been closed to the public since Tuesday, March 16th, they are continuing to offer pick-up and drop-off services and online resources to patrons. He added that the Randolph Library is continuing to provide excellent service to its patrons.
Councilman Tkacs reported that the Planning Board meeting was cancelled as previously noted by Manger Mountain. He added that he attended the Recreation Committee meeting which consisted in majority about discussing the cancellation of programs and events in response to the current public health emergency.
Councilwoman Potter reported that she has been working with the NJ 2-1-1 Committee, and relayed a concern about whether Randolph would have enough food available for residents. She spoke with the Executive Director of the Interfaith Food Pantry and she stated that she is not anticipating that the virus will overflow the Interfaith Food Pantry’s capacity to serve Randolph. Councilwoman Potter stated that she will continue to receive regular updates about their operations.
Councilman Loveys had nothing specific to report, but did take this time to express his gratitude and appreciation for the time and dedication of Manager Mountain and the entire municipal staff for continuing operations and adapting to the challenges this difficult time has presented. He then continued to praise Township Clerk, Donna Luciani, for her hard work, commitment and diligence in this time of crisis, and recognized that the township is very fortunate to have her supporting the community.
Councilman Forstenhausler reported that he echoed the same sentiments as Councilman Loveys. He also added that the township’s communication has improved and that residents are getting the information they need from many different township communication platforms. He also added that the Fire Departments’ communication has been very strong and that they continue to diligently ask questions related to public health to residents when responding to calls and are continuing to respond to emergencies as needed. He worked with others to put together a grant request to FEMA for 76 new self-contained breathing apparatus which estimate to a total price of $899,232.00.
Deputy Mayor Veech thanked Councilman Forstenhausler for completing and submitting the grant. Additionally, she thanked the township staff for coming to work every day and serving residents during this crisis. She discussed the importance of caring for one another during this time and reaching out to one another. She reported that the Community Garden fencing has gone up, and added that she hopes this can provide an opportunity for residents to get outside and garden. She continued to report that the Parks Advisory Committee met the week prior, and added that the number of great trails in the community would be a great opportunity for residents to get out of their homes and enjoy nature.
Mayor Carey thanked Manager Mountain and the team of dedicated professionals at town hall for their efforts during this public safety crisis. She additionally thanked the township’s Health Officer and Public Health Nurses.
K. EXECUTIVE SESSION
No Executive Session was held for this meeting.
Councilman Tkacs made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Councilman Loveys seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech