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Jefferson Township
Jefferson Township, N.J. • 1033 Weldon Rd, Lake Hopatcong NJ.
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Roll Call
Roll Call

Present                                                Absent

Mrs. Merz                                        Mr. Hardy

Mr. Sanchelli                                            Vice President Birmingham

President Yocum

            Larry Cohen, Township Attorney

                        Lydia Magnotti, Township Clerk

 

            Mrs. Magnotti said, ?Let the record show that Mayor Felter will not be present this evening, however, Administrator Leach is present.

 

Salute to the Flag

President Yocum asked that everyone rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Notice of Presiding Officer

President Yocum said, ?This Council Workshop meeting for December 14, 2005, commencing at 7:30 p.m. has been properly noticed in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act by notice to the official newspapers of the Township on December 8, 2005.?

 

Work Session Items:

Library?s 2006 Goals and Objectives                                                                                (180-A)

            Library Director, Seth Stephens, stated that he is present on behalf of the Library Board of Trustees, to present the Goals and Objectives for 2006.  Support material was given to the Council.  Stephens stated that they have taken the time to identify how the Library can create value for the community.  This will be accomplished by providing services with an excellent staff, by making sure the materials and programs are convenient and easy to use, by ensuring that the building has reliable and dependable technology while being clean, comfortable and inviting.  If the services are provided in a way that is pleasing to the public, they will come and use the library.  The goals for 2006 include the creation of a summer branch at Camp Jefferson to serve the summer campers.  Stephens explained that the summer branch would be entirely convertible and removed at the end of the summer.  Another goal for 2006 is the placement of remote book returns at the Township schools.  This will remove the necessity for an extra trip to the library.  Stephens stated that the consultant reported back to them that one of the areas that they should focus on is the area of communication.  Many residents like what the library does but they wish they knew more about programs and services.  As a result, on a quarterly basis, the library will be doing a mailing to every library card holder of the newsletter, Violet?s Porch.  Stephens stated that they believe the Township Library can play a vital support role with the School Libraries.  A great deal can be done to supplement the research materials that are available through the schools by encouraging the school librarians to use the materials they provide.  The materials available to the students increase greatly when they realize that the facilities of the Public Library are available through the School Library.  To accomplish this, training will be given to the School Librarians.  Stephens reported that they plan to increase the communication effort by developing partnerships with community organizations to promote the library?s services.  The Trustees have made a commitment to assist the Jefferson Arts Committee with the Summer Gazebo Concerts by sponsoring two performances this summer.  The last objective that Stephens explained involved ensuring that patrons receive the books they want in a timely fashion when they visit the library.  Merz commented that the Goals and Objectives along with Stephens? presentation were excellent.  Yocum asked if there are any major projects for the upcoming year?  Stephens stated that the front stairs have to be resurfaced and they believe they will be able to handle that expense out of the operating budget.  The one anticipated capital expense may be a vehicle to pickup and do some of the deliveries.  Right now the person that does this uses their own vehicle and is compensated through her salary.  A van may have to be leased or purchased to do daily pickups at Pathmark, Briggs School and another location in Lake Hopatcong.  During the summer, daily trips will be made to Camp Jefferson.  Yocum asked if the library building is in good repair and Stephens stated that it is in good condition.  Stephens said in the Spring they will be looking to hire an interior planner to propose changes to make the library easier to use.  To increase the use of the books, shelving will be changed and rearranged.  Yocum suggested that Stephens speak with the Administration to see if there is a vehicle in the Township pool that can be utilized for the beginning of the program.  Merz stated that she was in Borders today and is it possible to bring the coffee-house atmosphere to the library.  Stephens reported that this has been discussed among the Trustees and staff.  Other libraries that have tried this have brought in private vendors and it was not profitable.  In their discussions, they came to the decision that they could provide that type of atmosphere without the coffee.  Stephens stated that they still see themselves with a different value and mission from a bookstore.  Yocum asked if there were any other questions.  Yocum asked Stephens to thank the Library Board on behalf of the Council for preparing the Goals and Objectives presentation because it provides valuable insight and understanding during the budget process.  Stephens stated that he would like to return next Fall to report where they stand with their plans.

 

Change of Use Procedures

            Leach told the Council that the Change of Use Procedures are not in final Ordinance form yet.  In simple terms, he explained that when they have a retail business that is substantially changing its operation to another business, an application would have to be made for a Zoning Compliance Permit.  The Zoning Officer would review the application to make sure the business is allowed in the zone and parking and signage requirements are met.  The Zoning Officer will then refer the application to the Fire Marshall and the Health Department and if he deems necessary, the Construction Code Official for review and recommendation.  If he feels it may need a site plan, then the application will go to the Planning Board.  At their next meeting, the Planning Board professional would make a determination if the site plan approval is necessary.  If they determine a variance is needed, it will be referred to the Board of Adjustment. The Board of Adjustment would make a determination if the variance is needed at their next regular meeting.  The plan is to not hold tenancy up.  Leach stated that a paragraph has to be added to the Ordinance concerning the fee.  Other towns are charging a $25 fee.  Sanchelli asked about the process when the Zoning Official determines that a site plan may be needed.  Leach stated that the applicant would be referred to the Planning Board and their Completeness Committee.  The decision about whether a site plan is needed would be made there.  Cohen stated that the applicant would not need a fee for this, there would only be a fee if an application is made to amend the plan.  Leach explained that he feels this promotes business better than sending every application to the Planning Board.  Merz stated that a scenario can occur where the Zoning Officer is not sure if an application needs a site plan and a Planning Board meeting has already occurred, then the applicant would have to wait 30 days to see the Planning Board.  Leach stated that this procedure is better than having an applicant pull permits and then find out he cannot do the work or take over the location.  Yocum stated that the advantages of moving in this direction outweigh the bad.  The most significant issues are parking and septic.  Cohen explained that in a strip mall, if a business moves in that requires more parking such as a pediatrician?s office, while the business may meet the zoning requirements and may be a permitted use, there is a problem because they will use a lot more parking.  Cohen stated that he feels this is a good procedure but parking requirements should be examined for various uses.  For example, Mount Olive has higher parking requirements for specific businesses.  The other problem is that some strip malls and businesses will be grandfathered because they met the previous requirement for parking.

 

            Leach reported that all four towns on Lake Hopatcong passed the same docking pier ordinance.  The State Department of Community Affairs has made a determination that building inspectors cannot issue building permits or inspect the docks and piers because there is nothing in the building code about how they have to be constructed.  Leach stated that they discussed taking the dock and pier ordinance and putting in the same nominal fee to expand a dock or pier.  A zoning permit would have to be obtained.  If it was the expansion of a commercial pier, then a site plan would be needed and if it was a new commercial pier, site plans would have to be submitted to the Township Engineer for approval and inspection.  Presently, you do not need a permit to expand or build a dock.  Leach stated that Building Departments are not allowed to issue the permits.  Merz asked if this would also take into consideration the water walls?  Leach answered that the State Park Superintendent issues permits for those.  Cohen said they can be called a dock permit.  Yocum asked if the Council is in agreement to have the Administration work with Cohen on an Ordinance for the January work session.  Cohen said this will also be sent to the Planning Board even though it will not be a Zoning ordinance.  The Ordinance would go in a special chapter on commercial occupancy of existing structures.  Yocum asked that this matter be placed on the work session in January.

 

NJ DEP Model Stormwater Management Ordinance Amendments Chapter 146 ? Animals and Chapter 313 ? Littering; Handbills

            Cohen reported that he received documentation from Elam regarding pet waste, littering and the Stormwater Management Plan.  Cohen suggested putting this matter on the agenda in January.  Sanchelli stated that many of the requirements that the State has for stormwater management are already in place.  Merz stated that the Planning Board reviewed the Ordinance last evening and will be giving their approval.  Magnotti said that Elam explained that there are quite a few amendments that have to be made to the town?s existing Ordinances prior to March.  This matter will be put on the Agenda for January 18.

 

Planning Board Highlands Requirements/Restrictions

            Cohen stated that he spoke to Kienz concerning this matter.  The suggestion was made that the checklist be amended.  A determination must be obtained before application is made for a development permit.  Yocum stated that this came up as a result of a meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Adjustment.  Many homeowners were unclear and the Board of Adjustment was unclear exactly what restriction existed on certain properties.  Cohen stated that if a homeowner has an existing single family home they are, for the most part, exempt from anything having to do with the Highlands.  Yocum stated that the recommendation from the Chairman was for a letter to be attached to the application bulletpointing some of the Highlands points.  If, indeed, the majority of homeowners are exempt, there may be certain circumstances where they may not be.  The purpose is to give the homeowners the information upfront so they can come before the board knowing all the facts.  Cohen stated that the first thing a homeowner needs to determine is if they are in the preserved area or the planning area and this can be done right here in the Municipal Building.  Cohen said he will prepare a letter if that is what the Council wants.  It was determined that the letter can simply notify the applicant that they should determine whether or not they are in the Highlands planning or preservation area and they can make that determination at the Municipal Building prior to filing their application.  Cohen stated that he will prepare a draft for the Council?s review at the January work session.  Yocum asked Cohen to run the draft by Kienz prior to that meeting.

 

Merz stated that two months ago a family came before the Planning Board with property located in the preservation area.  They have a lot adjacent to their property and would like to build a home for one of their children.  The Planning Board did not know how to act on this application because they were unsure if this met the criteria for an exemption.  They were sent to the Highlands Council for a determination.  Merz asked Cohen if the town can be sure that the determination can be made.  Merz gave another example.  A property owner came in for the reval with an empty piece of property adjacent to theirs.  The reval company told them that even though they are in the preservation area and under an acre, they could put a house on that property.  There is mixed information and they should be sure that these determinations can be made easily.  Cohen said the letter will state that it is not legal advice and only a guideline.

 

Kennel License Required

            Yocum advised that the next item up for discussion is kennels and the determination of whether or not a property will be inspected by the Health Department.  Also up for discussion are breeders who are running a business, usually in a residential zone, and whether they should be subject to a Health Department inspection.  Yocum said this would state that if you have more than a certain number of animals, an inspection would be required by the Health Department.  Currently there is no restriction on the number of animals in a household.  Magnotti stated that the Health Department has supplied two memorandums from 1992 and 1989 and at those times they were asking for inspections on locations with more than 5 dogs.  DeGennaro hopes that the Mayor and Council can help with situations that come through their office.  Cohen asked the Council if they would like to consider a restriction on the number of animals with a grandfathering clause; or would they like to state that if there are 5 or more, a health inspection is required once a year.  Yocum stated that the second option is his recommendation.  The Health Department would like the ability to go in and inspect.  Yocum said they are not looking to restrict the animals so much as control the environment they are living in.  Magnotti clarified that the Health Department did not specify dogs and only said pets.  Presently the Health Department can go into a home if there is a complaint or the SPCA can be called if there is an abusive situation.  Cohen advised that they must clarify what the inspection criteria will be because it will be difficult to hold a pet owner to the same standards as a kennel.  Yocum stated that there is a set of rules and regulations called Kennel Regulations for shelters and kennels and they include:  isolation areas for dogs and cats, sink facilities, etc.  The best solution may be to get guidelines from the Health Department to see what they foresee as reasonable guidelines for pet owners.  Leach commented that the Animal Control Officer?s Association may be able to supply a model ordinance.  Yocum added that the Health Officer?s Association would probably be the one to go to with this matter.  The other problem to address is; are breeders operating out of a residential area.  Leach suggested obtaining some model ordinances for review at the January work session.  Cohen stated that if someone is truly a breeder and sells animals, that should be a conditional use and certain conditions should be met.  The breeder should have a license and inspections done.  Leach added that right now doggie day care is a business in Jefferson.  Cohen said that is another business that should be regulated for the customers, neighbors and the animals.

 

Pay to Play Law

            Leach explained that effective January 1, 2006, there are State regulations for political donations from people that receive contracts from government entities.  If the donations are $300 or more to any elected officials campaign or campaign fund, the contract must be received through open and competitive bidding, or as it is called fair and transparent.  There is a form that has to be filled out as part of the bidding process.  With the normal professional service contracts that are used for attorneys, planners, engineers, bond counsel and auditors, the person being awarded the contract, that has an aggregate of $17,500 or more, will have to fill out a disclosure form.  For example, if an engineer donated $300 to the republican committee, they can no longer just be given a professional contract.  The awarding of the contract has to be done in a fair and open manner.  Leach explained that they will meet with all the department heads that get involved with contracts and information will be sent to the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment.  Familiarity and prior experience with the Township can be used as a qualification.  Cohen added that at election time when petitions are filed, the candidates should receive a copy of the law.  Leach said he will prepare a bullet point letter of his notes on the law for that purpose.  Leach said that there was no election in Jefferson this year.  There is an exemption for 2006.  Eagen is preparing forms and they will be distributed next week.

 

Release of Performance Bond:  Jefferson Village, Phase 12

            Yocum reported that they received a letter from Elam recommending the release of the Performance Bond for Jefferson Village, Phase 12, dated December 9, 2005.  There are several items listed that still need to be taken care of and they will be incorporated into the remaining performance bonds.  Yocum stated that Cohen will draw up a Resolution for the December 21 meeting.

 

Consider Council Meeting Cancellations After Election Days

            Magnotti explained that the suggestion is to remove the Election meeting dates from the January schedule.  If it is decided that a meeting is needed at that time, it will be easier to schedule a meeting than to cancel one.  On June 7, there is an election in town and that is particularly stressful for the Clerk?s Office and the Council.  Sanchelli agreed that on the Election Day he works from 4:30 a.m. to late into the evening, like the Clerk.  Yocum suggested removing the three meeting dates from the schedule and if work determines they are needed, they can be rescheduled.

 

Resolutions

Resolution #05-120:  Confirming Sale of Municipally Owned Properties                      (184-A)

Motion:  Merz, second Sanchelli

                        Mr. Hardy                           Absent

            Mr. Sanchelli               Aye

                        Mrs. Merz                            Aye

            Vice Pres. Birmingham   Absent

                        President Yocum                   Aye

 

Resolution #05-121:  Closed Session ? Contract Negotiations, Personnel            (184-B)

Motion:  Sanchelli, second Merz

                        Mr. Hardy                           Absent

            Mr. Sanchelli               Aye

                        Mrs. Merz                            Aye

            Vice Pres. Birmingham   Absent

                        President Yocum                   Aye

 

Miscellaneous/Public Portion

Yocum asked if there were any members of the public that would like to come forward with a question or comment and seeing no one come forward, he closed the public portion of the meeting.

 

Recess

            The Council adjourned for Closed Session at 8:39 p.m. and reconvened at 9:03 p.m.

 

Adjournment at 9:03 p.m.

Motion:  Yocum, second Sanchelli

                        Mr. Hardy                           Absent

            Mrs. Merz                      Aye

                        Mr. Sanchelli                                 Aye

            Vice President Birmingham   Absent

                        President Yocum                   Aye

 

Dated:  December 14, 2005

 

Attested:                                                         Approved:

 

 

 

 

_________________________                ___________________________________

Lydia Magnotti, Township Clerk                     Richard W. Yocum, Council President

 

 


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