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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

                        Mr. Hardy

Mrs. Merz

Mr. Sanchelli

Vice President Birmingham         Arrived at 7:56 p.m.

President Yocum

            James Moscagiuri, Township Attorney

                        Lydia Magnotti, Township Clerk

 

            Mrs. Magnotti said, “Let the record show that Mayor Felter be arriving around 8:00 p.m.  Administrator Leach is on vacation, however, Jeff Elam, Director of Public Works is here.

 

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 October 12, 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 October 6, 2005.”

 

Work Session Items:

Economic Advisory Board Open Issues

            Michael Cruz of the Economic Advisory Board came forward and explained to the Council that the EAB sent the Memorandum because they feel one of the few things the Board could affect in town is specifically the Sign Ordinance and the Design Ordinance.  Another issue they feel that could impact the economic wellbeing of the town is the lifting of the one-mile restriction in the Liquor License Ordinance.  When the Economic Survey was returned two years ago, the residents voiced the opinion that they would like to have family-oriented chain restaurants.  The EAB spoke about how the one-mile restriction can be lifted from the two main business districts of the Township and that is the reason why it was decided to ask the Council to revisit this issue.  Yocum stated that since the Liquor License issue was last discussed, the Highlands Legislation has come into play and this restricts sewer and water hookups in certain areas.  Lifting the one-mile restriction in certain areas of town may not be legal, however, the Council will obtain a legal opinion.  The present population of the town allows for 6.78 plenary consumption licenses in town and there are currently 28.  In the Town Ordinance, there is a cap of 13 licenses.  Yocum stated that in his opinion, the Ordinance is business friendly to the 28 established businesses in town.  Yocum further stated that there is no guarantee that the demographics of Jefferson and this area would attract a national franchise.  If there were a representative from a franchise here asking for a change in our ordinance, that would be different from changing it in the hopes of attracting a business.  Cruz stated that part of being business friendly is not protecting the few businesses that we have, it is opening the town up.  If the town is not open for business, then with all due respect, there is no need for an Economic Advisory Board.  Cruz stated that there is not a lot that they can do at this point with the Highlands Act.  He explained that having businesses co-located in a close proximity promotes and attracts business.  Yocum agreed, history shows that when a Ruby Tuesdays, Bennigans or similar restaurant opens, the other similar businesses in that area have increased customer traffic.  There are currently 24 businesses operating in town.  Sanchelli stated that he also would like to see a major franchise come in and request the change.  If there was interest, he would support the change.  Hardy stated that the number of licenses is already being restricted by the State, why should the town be further protecting those businesses.  He went on to say that he brought this up 3 years ago and he feels that this is a protective type of Ordinance and business restrictive.  With the Highlands Act, now there is no capability of putting in sewers or water lines that would be needed.  Hardy stated that 3 years ago they did a lot of research and received information from the State regarding restrictions in other townships in New Jersey.  No new licenses can be issued in Jefferson, so there is no threat of bringing in more licenses.  Sanchelli stated that this would enhance the value of licenses for sale by current owners.  Merz added that perhaps if they focused on the properties that are left to be developed and go out to specifically solicit these types of businesses.  Work can be done ahead of time to see if these franchises would be interested in locating in specific locations with the sewer and water issues before upsetting everything.  There may even be a piece of property left that is appropriate.  Sanchelli commented that changing the one-mile restriction in the two business areas may not be feasible or equitable for everyone.  Yocum stated that they are seeking a legal opinion.  Cruz stated that assuming that a restaurant would need sewers and water, the A&P property is empty.  He stated that he feels the change of the Ordinance should not be shot down on the basis that no one has shown up here yet.  The Council needs to decide if they are open to new businesses or are they going to protect the licenses that are already here.  Jefferson has the most restrictive ordinance in the State of New Jersey.  Hardy stated that not one of the establishments that currently exist, doesn’t have someone within a mile.  Yocum stated that, all indications are that a change in the restriction probably would not make a difference at this point.  Cruz stated that he feels it would make a difference and there is really no valid reason for the restriction to be in place except for the protection of the current businesses.

 

Sign & Design Ordinance

            Yocum stated that Elam is here this evening as the representative of the Administration.  The Council has not been happy with the lack of progress on the sign and design ordinances.

 

            Birmingham arrived at 7:56 p.m.

 

            Merz stated that at the Planning Board meeting last evening, the addendum to the Sign Ordinance for political signs was put on the Agenda for the next couple months.  The members were asked to review the Ordinance and it is on the Agenda for full discussion.  Yocum stated that it will come back to the Council after that review and they can expect to have this in November or December.  Yocum stated that this issue sat for too long and was not addressed.  Merz commented that the matter is progressing because it has gone from the Planner to the Boards.  Yocum stated that from this point forward this matter will be a much larger priority for the Administration and they have 60 days to move forward with this or the Council can act without their recommendation.

 

            Yocum advised that a week ago questions were asked about the new development going in on Berkshire Valley Road where the existing home now stands on a cliff.  The developer will be building a wall and Yocum read from a memo from Coe.  Berkshire Valley Road will be widened by 8’.

 

            Felter arrived at 8:08 p.m.

 

Sanchelli explained that this all has to be done because of sight distance problems and the County is enforcing this.  On the top of the property where the house sits, a railing will have to be installed at the top of the wall constructed from 3” galvanized, steel piping.  The developer guaranteed that the structure of the existing home and the quality of their well will not be impacted by any of the construction that is taking place.  Felter stated that the town could not interfere with the agreement between the developer and the homeowner.

 

No Smoking on Municipal Recreational Property

            Yocum stated that smoking can be restricted on Municipal Recreational property and to change the Township Ordinance the Director of Recreation will have to identify all the properties.  The current Ordinance states that no one under the age of 18 may smoke on any public property.  This is a request that no one be permitted to smoke on recreational property.  Birmingham commented that cars on the property should be included in the ordinance.  There will be fines associated with the ordinance and people will be asked to cooperate.  Yocum asked if the Council agrees and would like to move forward with an amendment to the Ordinance to create no smoking on Municipal Recreational properties?  The Council was in agreement.

 

Eminent Domain/Assemblyman Carroll/Gregg Request for

Constitutional Amendment to Limit Eminent Domain to Traditional Public Purposes

            Yocum advised that Leach spoke to Counsel prior to the meeting and there may be some Constitutional issues at the Federal level.  If the Council supports this it may be more of a statement of support for this initiative and it is the opposite position than the League of Municipalities has taken.

Assemblymen Carroll/Gregg Request Constitutional Amendment to Limit Eminent Domain to Traditional Public Purposes

            Motion:  Hardy, Sanchelli

            There was some discussion about the Constitutional Amendment and two separate bills.  Yocum suggested that the Council review both of the bills and come back for further discussion.

                        Mr. Hardy                           Aye

            Mrs. Merz                      Aye

                        Mr. Sanchelli                                 Aye

            Vice President Birmingham   Aye

                        President Yocum                   Aye

 

Request from Verizon for FiOS TV and Francise Reform

            Felter stated that he along with Hardy and Jack Kelly met with a representative from Verizon last week.  Verizon is changing all their lines to fiber optic.  Their DSL will be 40 percent faster than it is now.  They will also be able to compete against cable television.  The town has a franchise agreement with the cable company that runs out in 2007.  Verizon would like to have a statewide franchise for television services with the 4 percent going to the town.  Felter explained that they would like more competition and they would like the State to look at this because it will be good for the residents to have a choice.  Jefferson Highlights would not be supplemented money from Cablevision anymore and the town would have to budget for that.  Hardy commented that the cable access channel is about $2,500 a year.  Felter added that the change to 4 percent in franchise fees back from Verizon would be a significant amount of money.  Magnotti asked if the Council agreed that this Resolution can be put on the Consent Agenda of the next meeting since it has already been discussed and everyone agreed.

 

Petty Disorderly Ordinance

            Merz stated that she has been contacted by residents in town about the display of pornographic material.  After research she located a State Ordinance, 2C:34-3.2, the Display of Obscene Material, Ordinance to Establish Petty Disorderly Offense.  A municipality may enact an ordinance making it a petty disorderly persons offense for a retailer to display or permit to be displayed at his business premise any obscene material as defined in NJS2C:2-3 at the height of less than 5’ or without a binder or covering placed or printed on the front of the material displayed.  Any such ordinance shall contain a provision stating that the public display of the obscene material shall constitute presumptive evidence that the retailer knowingly made or permitted the display.  Merz stated that this was adopted in 1988.  Jefferson is not the type of Township that would have a lot of this type of material displayed, however, there are at least two establishments in town with this type of material.  Moscagiuri stated that the State Ordinance gives the municipality the ability to enact an ordinance.  Yocum suggested that the Council adopt an Ordinance and that way it will be advertised and the local stores will pay attention to it.  The Council agreed that Cohen should prepare an Ordinance.

 

            Yocum added that massage parlors are now proliferating throughout New Jersey.  The majority are responsible, therapeutic businesses that help people.  On the other side, there are illegal activities going on inside other businesses operating as massage parlors.  Jefferson Township has been involved with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in investigations and charges against a couple businesses.  Yocum stated that he would like the Administration to look into what can be done to make sure that the businesses that operate within the Township are operating within the law.  Hardy asked if they have to have a permit.  Felter stated that they are difficult to curtail, however, the town has been very active in monitoring them.  Yocum added that they would just like to be sure that everything is being done to be sure that they are operating within the parameters of the law.  Felter stated that not only will the Administration deal with it but he will speak with Deputy Chief Sibel.  Yocum said that he is not sure why the State has not made a massage parlor something that requires a license.  Police surveillance is the biggest part of controlling this problem.

 

Open Issues

            Yocum reported that Birmingham brought this up at the last meeting and the list was received back from the Administration with an update.  The Council was provided with two lists:  one that shows the responses and one that shows the continuing open items.  Yocum asked if there are any open items that members of Council would like to address specifically.  Birmingham commented that the View Sheds and Vistas come up at Open Space Advisory Board meetings and now it seems according to the Administration that this item has been “put to bed”.  He will report that because of the Highlands Legislation, there is no further need to take any action to protect the ridgeline properties.  Birmingham stated that the electronic payment of bills and taxes are not on here but is being taken care of.

 

Yocum commented that one of the other items was the recycling of hazardous substances at the Recycling Center and the Administration has advised that this program can cause major liability exposure and it is not recommended by the DPW or the Recycling Department.  They ask that this issue be taken off the table to protect the Township.  Birmingham stated that 5 years ago they toured West Milford’s Recycling Center and they recycle motor oil.  Walmarts have recycling centers where you can go and dump motor oil.  It was discussed to allow the residents to have the opportunity to get rid of their motor oil in a supervised way and have a company come in and process the oil.  Yocum asked if a concrete pad would have to be poured to place the receptacle along with a chain link fence?  He asked what the cost would be and asked for a document from the Administration explaining the cost and liability reasons why the town should not do this.  Felter stated that it is his position that this should not be done.  This has been discussed with the recycling people and it is not a service that will be provided.  Merz stated that G. Recksiek looked into this and he reported to the Council that it would be extremely costly to run this program.  He also explained the expense to Leach.  Yocum explained that the Council would need to see the research as far as the cost, the environmental issues in order to make a decision.  Felter stated that he will get the information and the cost for the Council.

 

            Birmingham stated that another issue was the drug free school zones and crosswalks at the schools.  Felter reported that he spoke to the Chief today and there are some concerns.  Yocum stated that Chief Palko has determined that the only potential place to enact this is in the vicinity of White Rock but he and the Administration do not feel it is necessary.  The existing traffic laws are adequate.  Birmingham stated that Middle School students walk along Weldon Road and cross wherever they want.  There was discussion about having a trail along Weldon Road going from the Library down to Mahlon Dickerson or the way the children cross from the Middle School to the Library.  It is a busy thoroughfare and if there is a small path made of crushed stone there can be a crosswalk with the sign.  This would increase the penalty for drunk driving and it would be a deterrent.  Felter stated that there is already a path from the High School soccer field to the bus compound that would lead to the Municipal Complex driveway and then there can be a crosswalk across.  Felter commented that the Board of Education should be brought into the discussion because they may not want to encourage children walking home from school.  They should be involved with a discussion about walking trails from their facility.  White Rock is the first option because there are children that walk to that school.

 

            Yocum asked if there are any other open issues that the Council would like to discuss.  Birmingham asked about the items that are marked for Elam to give an update.  Yocum stated that anything that is identified with a response from Elam or Coe will come to the Council in the form of a brief memo or report over the next 4 to 6 weeks.

 

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 Wendy Connelly of Berkshire Valley Road came forward.  She reported to the Council that last Tuesday the Lake Swannanoa Board had a presentation by an acquatic analyst.  There was a question about whether the Township uses rock salt, salt or sand because there is an issue with sand building up in the lake areas.  Elam answered that currently the town uses rock salt.  He will be attending a seminar at Rutgers in a couple weeks with the latest thoughts and procedures on that.  Both sand and salt have certain issues.  Rock salt is generally less harmful to the lake but it can contaminate some parts of the ecology.  Connelly stated that the Federal government quantifies a lake by a depth of 6’ or more.  If you do not have 6’ or more, it is considered a pond or wetlands.  For the DEP to oversee a lake it has to be 50 acres or more.  Swannanoa does not come under that heading and would actually be overseen by the County.  The south lake is about 17 or 18 acres.  The north lake is a maximum of 3’ at any time.  So in actuality it may not be a lake.  Connelly asked how she would go about having some of the Lakefront taxes reassessed because in actuality they are not.  Elam said that the State would still have jurisdiction over the dam.  Connelly again said that if you need 6’ of water, then the people on the north lake are not lakefront.  Felter stated that the new revaluation is being done on comparable resales and not lakefront.  Sanchelli stated that at the County DPW they use no grit on the roads because under Stormwater Management Rules, the roads would have to be swept within 7 days.  Elam next reported that the storm centers were purchased and will be installed within the next 2 to 4 weeks.  They will be installed on Carib Trail and the Swannanoa boat dock.

 

Yocum asked if there is anyone else with a question or comment and seeing no one come forward, he closed the public portion of the meeting.

 

National Martial Arts Day                                                                         (153-A)

            Hardy read the Proclamation for National Martial Arts Day.

 

            Elam stated that the new Utility Director is off to a good start and he has been working with him.

 

            Yocum asked Felter for an update on the Briggs Road residents with the well problems.  Felter stated that they currently have a water buffalo in place for non-potable use and potable water from Lakeside Field.  He has not heard from them recently.  Yocum thanked Felter and Leach for taking the problem seriously.

 

Adjournment at 9:18 p.m.

Motion:  Yocum, second Merz

                        Mr. Hardy                           Aye

            Mrs. Merz                      Aye

                        Mr. Sanchelli                                 Aye

            Vice President Birmingham   Aye

                        President Yocum                   Aye

 

Dated:  October 12, 2005


 

Attested:                                                         Approved:

 

 

 

 

_________________________                ___________________________________

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

 

 


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