BOROUGH OF HADDON HEIGHTS
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Governing Body Meeting Minutes
Mayor Merryfield called the meeting to Order at 7:00 p.m. and then read the following statement:
“In accordance with Section 5 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975, notice of this meeting was posted on the bulletin board designed for that purpose and notice was transmitted to the official newspapers provided by Resolution adopted January 2, 2016.”
Mayor Merryfield asked Borough Clerk Santosusso for the roll call.
Under roll call, Council President Kathy Lange, Councilwomen Susan Griffith and Jackie Valvardi were present as well as Councilmen Stephen Berryhill, Richard DiRenzo and Vincent Ceroli. Solicitor Albert J. Olizi, Jr., Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso and Deputy Borough Clerk Katilyn Compton were also present.
Neighbors Night Out Committee
Councilwoman Griffith said that Roni Olizi will discuss Kings Highway Signage but first she wanted to note that Resolution 2016:101 is on the Agenda this evening authorizing the Mayor to execute an Agreement with the County of Camden Hold Harmless enabling the placement of a welcome to Haddon Heights sign on Kings Highway. She introduced Roni Olizi that explained that Marc Zito of Art Sign did the original sign on Station Avenue they met a gentlemen named John Wolick who indicated that the County will be placing a large sign on the other side of the street and this is why they suggested moving our sign up to the old Window Factory location. She said it would be about 35 to 40 feet from the building. She said that everyone present thought that the sign would look great in this location. It will say Haddon Heights. It will be 96 inches and will be 8 foot wide as is the welcome sign at Station Avenue and White Horse Pike. She said that the hope is to eventually reduce the number of signs placed on top of the welcome sign located at Station Avenue and White Horse Pike. She said they also approached CVS at Kings Highway and the White Horse Pike about placement of a welcome sign there. She said that CVS was pleased with the idea. She said that the County requests that we maintain the signs. Councilman DiRenzo asked what the cost of the sign would be? Mrs. Olizi responded $1,396.00. She noted this is a good cost as he is not charging us for footings, etc. She said that this low cost is due to Mr. Zito being a member of the community. Councilwoman Lange asked whether the community groups would be permitted to place their event signs on top of the new Haddon Heights sign. Griffith and Olizi responded yes. She said the hope is to reduce the number of event signs at Station Avenue and the White Horse Pike.
Councilwoman Griffith announced that electric will be installed on the lamp posts on Kings Highway in the business district. She said she confirmed the cost will be the same as was quoted by PSE&G last year.
DiRenzo asked what color the signs would be. Councilwoman Griffith responded they will be the same material and color as the entrance signs at Station Avenue and the White Horse Pike.
Councilwoman Lange reported on the last meeting between the HHSC and the Finance Committeee. She said that they came up with a couple of scenarios. She said that the plan submitted by Bach Associates appears to be the most workable course of action in proceeding. She said that we are still waiting on a recommendation from the financial advisor and then meet with the Finance Committee again. She explained that there is a time constraint as they need to be in and out by August 1.
Councilman Berryhill reported that due to being in the hospital, he has been delayed in …. He said that Tax Collector Eric Fitzgerald provided the information he requested previously on owners of all vacant properties. He said 48% of the properties are being paid by Corelogic. He said that 24% are delinquent in taxes. He said he has driven by many of the properties and says that most of them are in need of some form of repair. He said that he receives many complaints, most of them from homeowners that are located close to the vacant property.
He went on to explain that the Vacant Property Ordinance which enables the Borough to collect a registration fee allows us to address these properties. He said that NJ Statute gives us permission to collect the fees and in some cases, towns are actually transferring ownership to the municipality. He said that his vision of the once the property is registered, our people would then have the right to inspect the inside of the property to ensure the safety. He noted that often these properties appear fine outside but the inside is in poor shape. Mayor Merryfield asked what the goal is? Berryhill said that his first goal is to collect the fees so that we may then decide how we might proceed with making repairs, etc. He said that we should first and foremost address the eyesores that affect surrounding homes. He said our Zoning Officer or someone who we will designate would go out and review the vacant properties and then determine how the Borough will go about getting repairs done. Councilwoman Valvardi asked if the owner, bank to leave up some sort of window covering in an effort to reduce theft and vandalism. Berryhill responded that we will meet with Zoning Officer and decide what we would do. He said that the idea is to collect the fees to cover our costs, whether we engage in a shared service with Audubon or if we were to hire someone. Councilwoman Griffith said that she would be happy to help in any way. Berryhill said that the issue is a major concern for neighbors of these vacant properties and feels we owe it to these residents to address this issue. Council President thanked Councilman Berryhill for his work and then asked if the property is in good condition and the taxes are paid, would these individuals be required to register? Berryhill responded that if we know a property is vacant for a year or more, this is a problem for the community overall. Lange asked if there is a difference between ‘vacant’ and ‘abandoned.’ He said that he believes there is no difference with regard to what we are trying to address.
Mayor Merryfield announced that we would reconvene at 7:30 p.m. downstairs.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND MOMENT OF SILENCE
Mayor Merryfield asked all to stand for a moment of silence and then led the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on Caucus and Agenda items only.
John Gemmell, 1843 Sycamore Street – Mr. Gemmell thanked Council for addressing the issue of vacant properties. He expressed his pleasure in seeing multiple foreclosed homes near him be ‘flipped’ to be sold for about $400,000. He suggested that the Borough’s vacant/abandoned homes issue should be addressed by going after the presidents of the banks who own the properties. He said that he feels a Board should be convened to address this issue.
Seeing no one else come forward, a motion to close the public comment was made by Councilman Berryhill, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. All members were in favor.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Mayor Merryfield asked for a motion to approve the Minutes of the March 15, 2016. A motion was made by Councilwoman Griffith and seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members were in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who abstained.
Councilman Berryhill reported that he was asked by the Construction and Zoning department about their department’s budgetary needs. He noted that the Zoning officer’s computer is irreparable and that he is now using his own personal computer for borough business. Berryhill asked who he should meet with regarding replacement of the computer. Mayor Merryfield responded that he should speak with the CFO.
Berryhill then reported that the Municipal Alliance voted to allocate $5,000 of raised funds to Project SAVE.
Councilman Berryhill said that he had an update on abandoned properties in town. He said that the properties that are on the list he spoke about during Caucus truly are the properties that are in need of attention.
Councilwoman Griffith gave the report for Barrington Ambulance. A copy of this report is attached to these minutes.
Griffith announced that the Neighbor’s Night Out Committee is having their Margarita’s and Mayhem event on Friday, May 6, 2016 in the Community Center. Tickets will be $40/person and $350/for a table of 10. She said that tickets are limited and will be available at the Haddon Heights Library and Wise Family Jewelers.
Council President Lange reported that HHYA is tentatively scheduled for original rain date of Saturday, April 9th. Lange said that Jim Bruno, President of HHYA, has expressed concerned about the impending weather which is calling for snow and cold temperatures. She said an e-mail will be sent closer to the end of the week as to whether the event will be rescheduled. She said meeting location is Carole’s Candy at 8:30 a.m.
Lange reported that the Summer Rec Program is completely sold out and that a wait list has been started. She added that the staff may consider adding a sixth week to the season.
Council President Lange also noted that Erin Moran, our Program Coordinator, has completed the Summer 2016 Program Brochure that includes brand new classes for kids.
Lange said she has contacted the Green Team and related groups to conduct a ‘clean-up’ event for Hoff’s Park
Lange also said that she is looking into offering a new sport called ‘Pickleball’.
Lange then thanked the Department of Public Works for various repairs at Borough fields; electric issues at the Barr Complex and water issues at the Devon Avenue complex.
Lastly, Lange noted that the next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
Councilwoman Valvardi had no report this evening.
Councilman Ceroli had no report this evening.
Councilman DiRenzo reported that his sister, Patti, has been invited by the White House to participate in a public forum on the Heroin Epidemic Event at the Philadelphia Constitution Center on April 12, 2016. This event will be podcasted directly into the White House. If anyone is interested in attending, they would need to be at the Constitution Center by 12:30 p.m. The event begins at 2:00 p.m. He said that Michael Botticelli from the White House is coordinating the event.
Public Hearing and Final Adoption of Ordinance 2016:1428 – An Ordinance to Exceed the 2016 Municipal Budget Appropriation Limits and to Establish A Cap Bank (N.J.S.A. 40A: 4-45.14)
Mayor Merryfield opened the floor for Public Hearing on Ordinance 2016:1428: An Ordinance to Exceed the 2016 Municipal Budget Appropriation Limits and to Establish A Cap Bank (N.J.S.A. 40A: 4-45.14)
Seeing no one come forward, a motion to close the Public Hearing on Ordinance 2016:1428 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill.
Motion to adopt Ordinance 2016:1428 was made by Council President Lange, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. Under a roll call vote, all members were in favor.
Resolution 2016:95 – Resolution Requesting Permission For Dedication By Rider For The Haddon Heights Recreation Committee Required by N.J.S.A. 40A:4-39 (P.L. 1999, Chapter 292, Approved December 23, 1999) Establishing the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
Councilman DiRenzo asked what monies will go into this fund. Council President Lange thanked Solicitor Olizi and Mayor Merryfield for helping to establish this fund. She explained that the monies that will go into this fund will come from field rentals and field donations to go back into the fields and recreation facilities.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:95 was made by Council President Lange, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:96 – Resolution Supporting the Shade Tree Commission Application for Community Stewardship Incentive Program (CSIP) Grant
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:96 was made by Councilman Berryhill, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:97 – Resolution Authorizing Bills and Claims for the First Half of April
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:97 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:98 – Resolution Establishing Hourly Rate of Special Law Enforcement Officers (Class II)
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:98 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:99 – Resolution Authorizing the Solicitation of Bids for Tree Removal Services for the Borough of Haddon Heights
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:99 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members voted in favor.
Councilman DiRenzo asked how many trees are estimated to be taken down this year. Superintendent John Ellis replied that there are about 20 trees that need to be taken down during this year. Councilman Berryhill interjected that if anyone is looking to plant a new tree, Sustainable Haddon Heights will be distributing them on April 23, 2016 at Borough Hall.
Resolution 2016:100 – Resolution Authorizing the Online Auction of Surplus Municipal Property No Longer In Use
Councilman DiRenzo asked about the Ford Explorer listed on the resolution. Superintendent John Ellis explained that it was the vehicle that Zoning Officer used. This vehicle now has a blown engine and would cost the borough too much to repair it.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:100 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:101 – Resolution Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Hold Harmless Agreement With the Camden County for the Placement and Maintenance of ‘Welcome to Haddon Heights’ Sign on County Park Property at Kings Highway
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:101 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:102 – Resolution Approving a Raffle License for the Sons of Italy for Drawing at the Neighbors Night Out Margaritas and Mayhem event on May 6, 2016
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:102 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who abstained.
Resolution 2016:103 – Resolution Authorizing Issuance of Planning/Zoning Escrow Refunds
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:103 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:104 – Resolution Providing for a Meeting Not Open to the Public in Accordance with the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-12. Matter related to Glover Mill LLC litigation; Discussion is expected to be ½ hr. in duration. Formal Action May be Taken.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:104 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:105 – Resolution Awarding a Contract to Lyneer Staffing Solutions for the Purpose of Providing Temporary Labor Services to the Department of Public Works
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:105 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment.
Jack Gemmell, 1843 Sycamore Street – Mr. Gemmell requested the list of abandoned properties that Councilman Berryhill has obtained. Solicitor Olizi asked him to fill out an Open Public Records Access request for the information. Mr. Gemmell expressed his concern regarding two (2) properties near his home that are zoned as single-family homes but feels they are being used as multi-family dwellings. Discussion ensued relative to ‘misuse’ of the properties. Mayor Merryfield told Mr. Gemmell that we will look into these properties.
Roni Olizi, 424 Third Avenue – Mrs. Olizi informed Council that there is a new piece of legislation being put forward by Assemblyman DeAngelo, Bill A-2242 from North Jersey who is also president of the New Jersey Electrical Union. She said that Assemblyman DeAngelo also sits on the Utilities and Telecommunications Committee. Mrs. Olizi noted that this piece of legislation will completely eliminate the authority of municipalities, Shade Tree Commissions, Streetscape Committees and Planning Boards on vegetation rights. Mrs. Olizi strongly recommended Council to review the Bill. She said that this is something that the utilities companies are pushing for this. She said that this is a dangerous bill. She said that if this Bill is passed, it will dissolve grants dedicated to Shade Tree Commissions and will allow utility companies to come into our town and trim our trees and in some cases, even remove them. Mayor Merryfield said that Council will have a resolution on the next Agenda expressing our position on the impending Bill.
Seeing no one else come forward, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Councilwoman Griffith, and seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members were in favor.
Mayor Merryfield announced that Council was going into Executive Session.
A motion to adjourn was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members were in favor. 9:30 p.m.
Kelly Santosusso, RMC, Borough Clerk