BOROUGH OF HADDON HEIGHTS
Monday, November 14, 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 Clerk Santosusso for the roll call.
Under roll call, Council President Kathy Lange and Councilwomen Susan Griffith and Jackie Valvardi were present as well as Councilmen Stephen Berryhill and Rick DiRenzo. Solicitor Albert Olizi, Jr., Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso and Deputy Borough Clerk Katilyn Compton were also present. Councilman Vince Ceroli was absent.
Mayor Merryfield asked for a roll call. He then asked each Council member if anyone has any questions. Councilwoman Valvardi said that some questions were provided to her from Council President Lange who attended the Haddon Heights Business and Professional Association (HHBPA) meeting. Lange took notes at the meeting. Councilwoman Valvardi said that the HHBPA asked several questions. She then read the questions: Was an engineer involved in the discussion? Store fronts are required to go before the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), will this concept go before HPC? Are the trees affected by lights going up? Was the Fire Department consulted? How high will the lights hang? What is the light output (lumens)? How long are the lights on? Will tenants on second floors of apartments on Station Avenue be affected? What is the expected increase in the PSE&G lighting bill? What is the rationale for the proposed lighting? Final comments were that residents and business owners in the 500 block and residential areas were not notified.
Mayor Merryfield said that Mr. Gentile of Heights in Progress (HIP) came to Council to get a feel for whether councilmembers would be in favor of the idea. He said that HIP wanted to donate the lights as a gesture of “giving back” to the town. He said that first and foremost, we need to contact PSE&G to get permission. Mayor Merryfield said that he is aware that there are some concerns and questions that need to be answered before Council can make an informed decision. Mayor Merryfield said that he walked the Avenue and noticed that there is a tree in front of the Village Cheese Shop that would prevent the lights from being hung there. He said that there is no plan to move forward without all of the questions being answered. He said that what was discussed was that once all questions were answered and to Council’s satisfaction, members of Council supported the idea. He said that there was further discussion about options such as using color for various holidays or recognition of a particular month. He asked that all please recognize that this decision has not been made to proceed as there are many questions to be answered. He said there will always be someone that will not like what is done as it is hard to please everyone. Councilwoman Susan Griffith said there would likely be spots where the lights would not be able to be hung due to trees, etc. Griffith went on to say that Mr. Gentile represents HIP which has several businesses as members who were aware of the proposed concept.
Council President Lange said that one of our residents is a member of the HHBPA and is familiar with HPC and thought that the proposed lights should go through the HPC because the banners that were affixed to the poles were required to go before HPC for approval. Lange said she thought we needed to be consistent going forward. Olizi reiterated that there is no need to go through HPC because the lights are not going on private property and are not permanent; DiRenzo disagreed saying that we do not own the light poles, they are owned by PSE&G. Mayor Merryfield said that going forward, a Council liaison will be appointed to HIP since there are two (2) Councilmembers currently attending the HHBPA meetings. Griffith added that Councilman Ceroli has attended many of the HIP meetings this year.
Councilwoman Valvardi thanked Mayor Merryfield and Councilwoman Griffith for their responses.
Caucus Session ended at 7:15 p.m.
Mayor Merryfield called the Business Session to order at 7:30 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND MOMENT OF SILENCE
Mayor Merryfield asked for a moment of silence and then led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on Caucus and Agenda items only.
Seeing no one come forward for comment, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Council President Lange, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. All members were in favor.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Mayor Merryfield asked for a motion to approve the Minutes of the November 1, 2016 Council meeting.
A motion to approve the Minutes of the November 1, 2016 Council meeting was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Council President Lange. All members were in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who abstained.
Councilman DiRenzo stated that since he has no position assigned to him as a committeeman, he has no report.
Councilwoman Valvardi had no report as she discussed topics in Caucus.
Councilman Berryhill reported that three of the Local Board of Health members attended the Camden County Health Summit on October 13th. He said it was a good networking event and they received a lot of good information. He said that what was interesting was that the Camden County Department Health and Human Services publishes a document annually on hospital admissions for drug and alcohol. He said it is shocking to see how serious the heroine epidemic has become, not only in Haddon Heights but throughout every town in Camden County. He said the report will be provided to the Municipal Alliance for their review.
Berryhill announced the Reorganization for the Local Board of Health will be held on February 9, 2017. He said that if anyone would like to attend, they are welcome.
Berryhill reported that the Community Garden will begin their fall Clean up during the last week of November.
Councilwoman Griffith reported on the Police Department for the month of October: 7804 miles driven on patrol, 1012 calls for service, 28 arrests, 12 motor vehicle accidents, 41 ACS complaints and 409 motor vehicle summonses were issued.
Councilwoman Griffith said that we have received the two (2) vehicles that were purchased off of state contract have been received and have been placed into service. Griffith said that residents are reminded to check out the Police Department on Facebook and make them your friend.
Griffith then reported that Patrolman evaluations will be completed by the end of the month. Special Law Enforcement Officers’ interviews will be conducted during the month of December with start dates in the beginning of 2017 as there will likely be a promotion in the Department over the next couple of months.
Councilwoman Griffith said that a Prospect Ridge Blvd. traffic study was completed with 31 miles per hour being the 85th percentile speed calculated in both directions. She said the Police have moved the radar enforcement trailer around between Prospect Ridge and 9th Avenue in an effort to keep speeding down in the area.
Griffith then gave the report on the Ambulance Association for the month of October: 59 calls for service in Haddon Heights, 35 people transported, average response time was 1.39 minutes. Average on location time was 4.97 minutes. She submitted all reports to the Clerk.
Councilwoman Griffith then reported on the Holiday Parade which is scheduled for Friday, November 25th at 6:00 p.m. She said that staging will begin at North Park and the Canons and will begin there. She said the Parade will proceed up to the 500 block of Station Avenue and the White Horse Pike. Santa will then disembark and all vehicles will then proceed to Barrington for their holiday Parade. She said that Santa will then walk back toward the Library and the Star and then come into Borough Hall for photos with the children and refreshments. Griffith said that she wanted to thank DPW and the Police and Fire Departments in advance for all the coordination and efforts that will be made for the Parade. Snacks and refreshments will be provided, compliments
Council President Lange reported that Councilman Ceroli sends his regrets that he is not in attendance this evening; he sits on the Board of the YMCA and there was a meeting this evening. She said she has an information sheet which she will provide to Councilman Ceroli on the difference between a 501c3 and a 501c4. She said that she will also be providing this information to the various sports organizations at the Parks and Rec meeting as they are all 501c3’s.
Lange said that she attended a venue walk with the HHYA President this past Saturday. She noted their concerns and then compared them to the budget with the exception of spray painting the inside of the Concession Stand. She added that the needs are known for McCullough Field at Devon Avenue, but is she is also keeping lists for Cervino Field and Hoff’s Park as well.
Council President Lange then stated that this Thursday, November 17th will be the Buildings and Grounds budget meeting for the Department of Parks and Recreation; meeting will be held in the Borough Hall. She noted that there is an extensive Agenda for the meeting and the public is welcome to attend.
Lange announced that she applied for a mini grant for a walking project for the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign.
Lastly, Lange said that a meeting of the Board of Education met on an unusual schedule, the first week of the month. She said board briefs are available on the Board of Education’s website.
BOROUGH ENGINEER’S REPORT:
Steve Bach, 304 White Horse Pike – Mr. Bach said that he has submitted their written report and will rely on that if there are no questions. There were no questions.
Resolution 2016:236 – Resolution Appointing Alternate Municipal Court Prosecutor
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:236 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Council President Lange. Under a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who voted no.
Resolution 2016:237 – Resolution Authorizing a Refund for a Street Opening Permit Fee to New Jersey American Water Company
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:237 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. Under a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:238 – Resolution Canceling Outstanding Checks
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:238 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor.
Resolution 2016:239 – Resolution Authorizing Payment of Bills and Claims for Second Half of November
A motion to adopt Resolution 2016:239 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilwoman Griffith. Under a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor.
Mayor Merryfield opened the floor to public comment on any issue at all.
Brett Harrison, 516 Station Avenue – Mr. Harrison expressed his concern for the lighting that was proposed to Council at the last Caucus meeting. He began to read a list of questions which were addressed to Mayor Merryfield and Councilwoman Griffith. Mayor Merryfield answered saying that there are still many questions that we do not have the answers to at this time. He explained that Mr. Gentile from HIP just brought forward the idea of HIP donating the lighting to the town as a gesture of “giving back” to the town. Mayor Merryfield said that there are no plans to move forward at this point as we do not have answers to the many questions that have been posed. He said that Councilwoman Valvardi brought a list of the questions to Caucus that were provided by the Haddon Heights Business and Professional Association. Mr. Harrison said that he had several more questions. He had concern for the lumens of the lighting, will it block store signage and then asked who would be responsible for the upkeep of the lights. The Mayor responded that the Department of Public Works would maintain. Harrison then noted that other projects should be considered before additional lighting. Discussion ensued between the Mayor and Mr. Harrison regarding whether improvements or changes were needed in town.
Anne McAdams, 401 E. Atlantic Avenue – Mrs. McAdams expressed her concern for the overall look of the town as the town has been a historic district. She said that many residents worked hard over the last 30 years for this Classic Town designation. She said that there is no question that this designation has helped the town. She said that Margaret Westfield, who was unable to be here this evening discussed the issue with her and said that she has never heard of parallel lighting in an historic district. She said that colored lights do not fit into a historic district either. She asked Mayor and Council to please consider the work that has been put into making this a historic district. She asked Council to please protect the look of the town and to honor the historic district when considering hanging the proposed lights.
Solicitor Olizi said the original intent of the lights was for decorative lighting for the holidays and thanked Mrs. McAdams for her valid and thoughtful comments which he said he appreciated.
Brett Harrison, 516 Station Avenue – Mr. Harrison asked Clerk Santosusso to read a section of the Caucus Minutes from the last meeting. Santosusso read the section of the Minutes in which the lighting was discussed. Harrison thanked Santosusso.
Lynn Dalton, 208 Crest Avenue – Mrs. Dalton said that she found out about the lighting through the RETROSPECT and then asked what Edison lighting is. Borough Engineer, Steve Bach responded saying it is a clear lightbulb with the filament that is reminiscent of the Thomas Edison old fashioned looking light bulb. She mentioned her concern that this type of lighting being fragile might be subject to vandalism. She said that when she saw the town this evening, she admired the way it appears now. She said consideration should be given to the fact that these lights may be detract from what we already have.
Audrey DiRenzo, 415 Second Avenue – Mrs. DiRenzo said that the lighting at the ‘pond’ area is not Edison lighting. Mrs. DiRenzo described Edison lighting and noted that the lights that are hanging over the Fountain are typically what you see at Italian festivals and 9th Street in Philadelphia which is fitting and looks great there. She said that she wanted to know when the lighting that is hanging up at the railroad tracks was put up. She thought it might have been at the time of Rededication Ceremony when it was dark. She added that a lot of people put a lot of time and money into the existing lighting.
Jan Ewing, 1509 Prospect Ridge Blvd. – Ms. Ewing said the Edison type of lighting is not what is hanging up at the Fountain. Marshall Hatfield bought them for the train station’s four lamp posts around.
Connie Chepurny, 206 Bellmawr Avenue – Mr. Chepurny said that the proposed lights will change the look and feel of the town whether you like the lights or not. He asked if this idea will be discussed with a broader range of residents or is it a Council decision only. He said that he personally does not like the idea. He said he would not want to it all to be a waste of time and money if a bunch of residents come in and complain after the fact. Mayor Merryfield responded that there is nothing set in stone at this point. He reiterated that Mr. Gentile from Heights in Progress just came to us to ask Council for their thoughts. Mr. Chepurny asked if Council would solicit a wider base of opinions. Mayor Merryfield said that we always try to listen to our residents’ opinions and they are taken into consideration when making any decision. Councilwoman Griffith added that not everything that is discussed or said during Caucus will make it into the RETROSPECT or into the Minutes. However, she said that if we found that residents do not like the idea, we could either take them down or change how they may be hung.
Mayor Merryfield asked Mr. Gentile if he would come forward to describe the lighting. Mr. Gentile said that the box the lights come in display ‘Edison style.’ He further explained that they are outdoor, durable, waterproof, heavy duty black strand lighting. He said the lighting is not as “bright white” as LED lighting. He described it as a softer warmer silhouette type of lighting to allow for a more walkable sidewalks. He added that if people do not like the idea, we do not have do it. He said it was a gesture from HIP to give back to the town. Gentile added that discussion began with the idea of Christmas lighting and knows that this did not make it into the Minutes, but as the discussion went on, other ideas were discussed that would entail the lighting being up more often. He also added that many people have indicated to him that they really like the lighting currently hanging at the Fountain. He said that a resident called him concerned that this issue might be discussed this evening so he came tonight. Councilman DiRenzo asked who the resident was that called him. Gentile did not provide the resident’s name but said that he has checked with other towns such Westmont and Collingswood who PSE&G approved.
Councilman Rick DiRenzo – Councilman DiRenzo asked if the property at the “pond” is owned by the railroad where the lights are currently hanging is owned by the railroad. Discussion ensued with Solicitor Olizi saying that the property is owned by the railroad. Olizi said that the area is not a pond, it is a Fountain and said the lights were put up for the Dedication of the Fountain and were not intended to remain. DiRenzo then asked where the information on the lighting was on the website. Mayor Merryfield asked Clerk Santosusso if the Minutes from the last meeting have been posted to the site; she responded “yes.” Councilman DiRenzo then asked Councilwoman Griffith if she wanted to get these lights up by the holidays. She said that because we have no feedback from PSE&G and cannot move forward until we receive approval, it appears they may not be able to be up.
Councilman DiRenzo then directed a question to Clerk Santosusso about a request he submitted for a recording of the previous meeting’s minutes. He asked when he would receive the recording? Santosusso responded that the recording has been in his mailbox.
Mrs. DiRenzo asked Council President Lange if Haddon Heights is still a “Classic Town.” Lange responded “yes.” Mrs. DiRenzo then if Westmont is a classic town; Lange responded “no.” Mrs. DiRenzo asked if Collingswood is a classic town; Lange responded “yes.” Mrs. DiRenzo asked what the borough currently pays for this designation. Lange responded $2,500 per year.
Mrs. DiRenzo then said that the current holiday lighting should be considered when deciding on adding any other lighting and urged all to consider whether this would conflict with the current lighting.
Council President Lange made a statement regarding the Minutes. She said that Robert’s Rules of Order Minutes. She said the Minutes are not a verbatim accounting; they are a record of what was discussed and what action(s) were taken.
Audrey DiRenzo – Mrs. DiRenzo responded to Council President Lange and said that she believes we all know what the Minutes are but noted that the statement was clearly in the Minutes that Councilwoman Griffith indicated that the lights would remain up all year.
Lange responded that Classic Towns is not just the Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs but New Jersey as well. She noted that Classic Towns are part of the Regional Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC.) Lange commented that we are a ‘turn of the century’ Classic Town. She said that not every Classic Town is of the same era. She said that architectural structures are part of being designated as such as well as a strong sense of community. She said we belong to the DVRPC in part because they offer unbelievable resources such as classes and workshops. Lange said that Mrs. DiRenzo’s comments are well taken and said that she will follow-up after the Thanksgiving weekend.
Seeing no movement, a motion was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting. All members present were in favor.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS SESSION:
The Business Session was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Kelly Santosusso, RMC, Borough Clerk