MAYOR AND COUNCIL
August 23, 2022
CALL TO ORDER
SALUTE TO COLORS
Mayor Zdichocki invited all those present to stand in a salute to the colors.
MAYOR’S STATEMENT AS TO COMPLIANCE WITH P.L. 1975
Adequate Notice of this Meeting has been provided according to the Open Public Meetings Act, Assembly Bill 1030. Notice of this Meeting was included in the Annual Meeting Notice sent to the New Jersey Herald and the Daily Record on January 5, 2022 and was placed on the Official Bulletin Board in the Municipal Building and on the official website of the Borough of Stanhope.
In the event the Mayor and Council have not addressed all items on this Agenda by 10:00 PM and they are of the opinion that they cannot complete the Agenda in a reasonable time period, the Mayor and Council may exercise their option to continue this meeting at an agreed to date, time and place. Please turn off all cell phones for the duration of this meeting.
Mayor Zdichocki – present
CITIZENS TO BE HEARD
Mayor Zdichocki opened the meeting to the public after advising attendees that there is a five (5) minute time limit for each speaker.
Seeing no one from the public wishing to speak, Mayor Zdichocki closed the public portion of the meeting.
MINUTES FOR APPROVAL
Mayor Zdichocki read aloud the list of minutes being presented for approval:
July 12, 2022 Work Session/Agenda Meeting
July 26, 2022 Business Meeting
On motion by Councilman Vance, seconded by Councilman Riccardi and carried by a majority voice vote, the above listed minutes were approved. Councilwoman Kuncken abstained from the minutes of July 12th and July 26th. Councilman Romano abstained from the minutes of July 26th.
CORRESPONDENCE (List Attached)
On motion by Councilwoman Kuncken, seconded by Councilman Vance and unanimously carried by voice vote, the list of correspondence was accepted and ordered placed on file.
COUNCIL COMMITTEE REPORTS
Public Safety – Councilwoman Kuncken/Councilman Vance
(Police, Fire, Ambulance, Court & Violations Bureau, Emergency Management)
Councilwoman Kuncken stated the Fire Department, for the month of July, reported there were 7 calls answered, 2 mutual aid calls, 3 drills, 1 meeting and 10 special details for a total of 378.25 man-hours volunteered.
Councilwoman Kuncken stated the Sussex County Fire Marshal, for the month of July, reported the violations at Dollar General and at Lenape Valley Regional High School have been abated. There were no incident responses or complaints received during the month.
Councilwoman Kuncken stated the Police Department, for the month of July, reported 131 motor vehicle stops. The overall calls for the month totaled 290.
Councilwoman Kuncken stated the Ambulance Squad, for the month of May, reported 31 calls in Stanhope, 39 calls in Netcong and 1 stand-by. There were 77 total calls for the month. The out of town calls were as follows: 1 in Roxbury, 1 in Byram, 3 in Hopatcong and 1 in Mt. Olive. They made 28 trips to the hospital and there was 1 call for the helicopter. The squad travelled 912 miles and had a total of 296 hours and 9 minutes of volunteer hours. For the month of April, the squad reported a total of 55 calls. There were 19 calls in Stanhope, 27 in Netcong and 1 stand-by. The out of town calls were as follows: 1 in Roxbury, 3 in Byram, 2 in Hopatcong and 2 in Mt. Olive. The squad made 29 hospital trips. The total hours volunteered were 241 hours and 13 minutes and they travelled 829 miles.
Finance & Administration – Councilman Romano/Councilman Thornton
Councilman Romano stated the tax collections for the month of July totaled $648,041.13 and the year to date total was $6,868,457.63. The first quarter collection rate is at 98.4 percent. The second quarter collection rate is 97.4 percent. The third quarter collection rate is 19.3 percent.
Councilman Romano stated the water utility collection for July totaled $38,651.25. The year to date total is $401,140.29. The sewer utility collection for July totaled $46,197.85. The year to date total is $475,094.92. Collections are on track.
Mayor Zdichocki asked how the figures compare to last year. Councilman Romano stated the tax collections were the same last year. The water collections for this year are slightly ahead of last year.
Community Development – Councilman Wronko/Councilman Riccardi
Councilman Wronko stated the Zoning and Code Enforcement report for the month of July states there were 9 zoning permit applications. Eight of the applications were approved and one was denied. A total of ten complaints and violations were addressed during the month.
Councilman Wronko stated the Construction Department issued 26 permits during the month of July. The department collected approximately $5,800 in fees for the month.
Municipal Infrastructure – Councilman Thornton/Councilman Romano
(Water Distribution, Sewer Collection System, Road Construction & Maintenance, Buildings & Grounds)
Councilman Thornton stated the paving project for Valley Road, Delaware Avenue and Elizabeth Avenue has been completed. Councilman Thornton commended Eric Keller, Borough Engineer, for getting the work done. He also thanked Administrator McNeilly for organizing the weekly meetings and thanked the Department of Public Works (DPW) for getting the work done in a timely manner. Councilwoman Kuncken commended the DPW on getting the work done while working in the 100-degree weather.
Information Technology – Councilman Riccardi/Councilman Wronko
Councilman Riccardi stated he had no report this evening.
Boards/Commissions – Councilman Vance/Councilwoman Kuncken
Councilman Vance stated the Environmental Commission Meeting Minutes of May 12th state the Clean Communities Day has been rescheduled to November 6, 2022.
Councilman Vance stated the Land Use Board approved a variance request for the property located at the corner of Maple Terrace and Sunset Avenue. The property owner will be doing an elevation, as well as adding a front porch. A large shrub will be removed from the corner which is of great interest to people in the neighborhood as it obstructs the line of sight as you travel down Sunset.
Eric Keller, Borough Engineer, came forward to give his report. Mr. Keller stated he had prepared a report prior to the August 9th meeting, which unfortunately he was unable to attend. The report has been updated.
Sparta Road Speed Limit Study – Eric Keller, Borough Engineer, stated the draft ordinance for the proposed speed limit reduction to 30 MPH has been reviewed and it is consistent with the findings of the study. Mr. Keller stated his recommendation, upon adoption of the ordinance, in addition to replacing the existing speed limit signs (and reprogramming the variable speed limit signs), would be to place an advance sign in Hopatcong along County Route 605 warning of the reduced speed limit (30 MPH) at an appropriate distance. The suggestion is to have the advance placement at least 250 feet from the municipal boundary.
Valley Road and Delaware Avenue Local Aid Project – Mr. Keller stated the construction plans have been completed for the Valley Road and Delaware Avenue Local Aid Project for the various elements of the work both through the Morris County Cooperative and for the public bid. The plans were submitted to the NJ DOT Local Aid and their comments are fairly minor. The comments were addressed and NJ DOT accepted the plans and specifications.
Mr. Keller stated the work covered by the co-op consists of milling, paving, concrete curb replacement and striping. The public bid portion of the construction includes the sidewalk replacement, driveway restoration and the ADA ramps. The engineer’s estimate for this work is $236,164.82, less the Local Aid Grant of $181,200.00, which leaves the Borough’s portion of $54,964.82. The three resolutions for the co-op contracts were submitted to NJ DOT and they concurred with the award of each.
Mr. Keller stated the concrete curb replacement was completed by Reivax on Thursday, July 28, 2022 with 342 linear feet installed. The milling of the two roads was scheduled for Thursday, August 11th and Friday, August 12th. The paving was done on Monday, August 15th. The work was successfully completed with 994.95 tons installed as compared to the estimated quantity of 1,060 tons. The milling area is 8,290 square yards as compared to the estimated amount of 8,081 square yards. Overall, this is a reduction in the contract value of approximately $4,300.00. Once Tilcon’s invoice is received, we will know what the asphalt and fuel price adjustments will be. The cost should be less than the estimated amount.
Mr. Keller stated the concrete sidewalk portion of the contract work is outside the limits of resurfacing work and therefore can be done subsequent to Tilcon’s work. The sidewalk and the ADA ramp project were advertised on Friday, August 19th, with the bid opening scheduled for Tuesday, September 20th, with Council action anticipated for September 27th. As of today, one contractor has picked up a bid packet.
Elizabeth Avenue – Mr. Keller stated the construction plans for the Elizabeth Avenue project are complete. This project is being funded from the Borough’s capital fund and the engineer’s estimate for this work is $95,740.00. The work was successfully completed by Tilcon on Monday, August 15th. The actual amount of material was 614.73 tons installed, as compared to the estimated quantity of 800 tons. The thickness of the asphalt is accurate but the width of the road may have been over estimated. Mr. Keller stated he would rather be conservative with the estimates and able to report the actual cost was lower. This also prevents having to request change orders for going over budget. The milling area was 5,140 square yards, as compared to the estimated amount of 6,700 square yards. Overall, there was a reduction in the contract value of approximately $18,450. The asphalt and fuel price adjustments still need to be applied.
Sunset Avenue / Ridge Road / Overhill Road Water Main Replacement – Mr. Keller stated the surveying services for the Sunset Avenue, Ridge Road and Overhill Road Water Main Replacement Project have been completed. The preparation of the construction plans has commenced. Mr. Keller stated he needs to contact the DPW Superintendent to obtain some additional information. Coordination is taking place with Administrator McNeilly regarding the requirements for accepting government funding. The new water main will be placed in the existing trenches, where feasible, to minimize any rock excavation, but as the existing water system is not looped in this area, new installations will occur along Overhill Road, Mountain View Road and West Drive. A temporary water system will be included in this contract to serve the residents in this area. It is anticipated for this project to be advertised in the later part of this year with construction commencing in the Spring of 2023. The start date is reflective of the time required to obtain water pipe and fittings, the infeasibility of an above-ground temporary water system during cold weather months and funding considerations.
DEP Stormwater Grant Program – Mr. Keller stated he received an email from Mayor Zdichocki regarding the stormwater grant from DEP. Improving the water quality of the water going into the lake would be beneficial. One of the problems is that the Borough does not own the land around the lake. It is owned by DEP. Things that can be done at the discharge points could be done but they would need DEP concurrence. Detention basin retrofits are part of the grant options. If there is any interest, the Borough’s grant writers could explore this further. All of the Borough’s detention basins are traditional in that they hold back water but do nothing else. Basins today can provide water quality. They provide bioretention basins or other filtration devices to provide water quality. None of the Borough’s basins are adjacent to the lake or the river, but they do feed down to the lake or the river. Improving the water quality which comes from the basins could be explored. There would be maintenance requirements which would go along with that. A bioretention basin does not get mowed but it still has to be cleaned of debris and sediments. If a sand filter is used, as opposed to a bioretention basin, every so often the sand has to be removed because it gets clogged and no longer works and then it has to be replaced. This would be an added maintenance cost for the Borough. Discussion took place regarding the water which flows to the canal from the lake and the areas which are maintained by the State. Administrator McNeilly stated if the detention basins are modified, it would cost the Borough both time and money to maintain them. At this time, the basins are mowed once a year and are grandfathered in as far as regulations. The newest detention basin is approximately thirty years old. Discussion took place regarding the various existing detention basins. Mr. Keller stated the basins are inspected quarterly and after storms.
Councilwoman Kuncken asked Mr. Keller what Denville Line Painting will be painting on Valley Road and Delaware Avenue. Mr. Keller stated eventually the crosswalks will be painted. The center lines and stop bars are being held off at this time. A stop bar will be needed at Elm Street and on East Drive. As long as there are no issues, the lines will not be painted until after the handicap ramps are installed across East Drive and Spencer Street. The curb ramps on Elm Street will be part of the Local Aid Project which is why the milling and paving was stopped where it was. The goal was to have the road paved before school began. Councilwoman Kuncken stated there was a water main break which happened on the Saturday before the Monday paving. Administrator McNeilly stated the break was an undocumented, unused line at the corner of Spencer Street and Valley Road. Administrator McNeilly stated often times when a municipality is paving a road, they will not pave over the existing crosswalk. The reason for this is to avoid having to change out the ramps. Mr. Keller stated that is a questionable choice ethically. Morris County is currently being sued because of a detectable warning.
Councilman Thornton asked Mr. Keller what his view is with regard to the asphalt and fuel costs. Will the Borough see further deductions or savings due to the declining fuel costs over the past few months? Mr. Keller stated the co-op publishes the price used for fuel but he is not sure if they post the price for asphalt. The fuel cost was approximately $3.50 per gallon. This is for diesel and diesel prices have been slow to come down. Mr. Keller stated his estimate for the fuel surcharge, which was done back in June, was $2.00 per gallon. Mr. Keller hopes his estimate was overly conservative. In the past week or so, diesel prices have started to drop just under $5.00. The fuel purchased for this job is probably still priced at $5.25 per gallon. The surcharge will probably be around $1.75 or $1.80 per gallon. Mr. Keller stated his estimate for the asphalt was made by looking at a recent DOT bid and what their asphalt adjustment was. Mr. Keller stated he anticipates the bill from Tilcon will be received in the next week or so.
Water/Sewer/Tax Bill – Administrator McNeilly stated the current procedure for obtaining permission to place a flyer in with the water/sewer/tax bills must be approved by the Mayor and Council. Administrator McNeilly suggested giving the departments, Chamber of Commerce and the Senior Citizens Club blanket approval to place flyers in with the mailings. The weight of the bills has been checked and the mailing can handle 8 flyers before there would be a postage increase. Administrator McNeilly stated his recommendation is to place no more than five (5) flyers at one time in with the water/sewer/tax bill mailings and to eliminate the need for governing body approval. This would be for the municipal boards, commissions and groups.
Mayor Zdichocki took a straw poll vote of the governing body asking for their approval to place no more than five flyers at one time in with the water/sewer/tax bill mailings without governing body approval. The results are as follows: Councilwoman Kuncken – yes; Councilman Vance – yes; Councilman Wronko – yes; Councilman Riccardi – yes; Councilman Thornton – yes; Councilman Romano – yes. Approval was granted.
Parking Request – Administrator McNeilly stated the owner of the property located at 30 Linden Avenue is requesting to be allowed to park construction vehicles on the east side of Linden Avenue in front of the Linden Avenue School. The owner of the property will be constructing a new home with prefabricated walls for the basement. This area is posted as a no parking area which was done for the school bus pick up/drop off location and was done by ordinance. With the school no longer in use, the temporary parking of construction vehicles is not an issue. The request is for daytime parking only and will not affect traffic flow. Councilwoman Kuncken stated residents in the area may complain. Mayor Zdichocki asked if the signs could be taken down. Administrator McNeilly stated in order to take the signs down, the ordinance has to be changed. At this time, a resident is asking for relief from the ordinance, which the governing body can grant. Councilwoman Kuncken stated the relief could be granted now temporarily and whether or not to change the ordinance can be discussed in the future. Administrator McNeilly stated the delivery will be taking place in early September. The area will have to be coned off properly and cannot obstruct traffic. The hours for parking would take place during the day from 7:30am to 3:00pm. Councilwoman Kuncken stated the Police Department needs to be made aware of the stipulations and they will need to enforce them should the need arise. Mayor Zdichocki stated the dates for the use should be obtained. Administrator McNeilly stated the request is for a delivery on September 1st and during the month of September. Much discussion took place regarding the situation.
Mayor Zdichocki took a straw poll vote of the governing body asking for their approval for relief from the parking ordinance for the property owner at 30 Linden Avenue to utilize the no parking area in front of the Linden Avenue School during the specified daytime hours of 7:30am to 3:00pm. The results are as follows: Councilwoman Kuncken – yes; Councilman Vance – yes; Councilman Wronko – yes; Councilman Riccardi – yes; Councilman Thornton – no, given the lack of detail; Councilman Romano – yes. Approval was granted by a majority vote.
Administrator McNeilly asked the governing body if the ordinance restricting the parking on Linden Avenue for busing should be changed. Mayor Zdichocki took a straw poll vote of the governing body. The results are as follows: Councilman Romano – yes; Councilman Thornton – yes; Councilman Riccardi – yes; Councilman Wronko – yes; Councilman Vance – yes; Councilwoman Kuncken – yes. The governing body is in favor of moving forward with the procedure to change the existing ordinance.
Water System – Administrator McNeilly stated the State of New Jersey continues to be on drought watch. The Borough’s Water Operator, DPW Superintendent, Jason Titsworth, reports that the static level in all the wells is one to two feet below normal but there is no need for restrictions at this time. Mr. Titsworth is monitoring the levels on a daily basis until the rainy weather returns. The pumping of water is very low at this time. Residents are not using a lot of water. The daily meter readings for pumpage for Stanhope Borough through the MSA for all of last month were in the hundreds of thousands, like 189. Sometimes the readings are three to four hundred after a rain storm. Everything is just dry. There is no ground water at all in the system right now.
Brooklyn Road Crossings – Administrator McNeilly stated he received an email from the County Engineer stating the County is still working on obtaining the materials for the Brooklyn Road Crossings project. The County was hoping to be ready prior to the start of school but that appears to be unlikely at this time. New signage has been installed but no construction of the crossings has been done as yet.
Clean Communities Coordinator – Administrator McNeilly stated municipalities are required to have a Certified Clean Communities Coordinator. The Borough’s most recent coordinator was the recently retired CFO. The new CFO is prepared to take the classes and become certified which could take place by late Fall 2022.
EPA Grant Status – Administrator McNeilly stated work is continuing on the process and the paperwork to prepare to receive the funding for the EPA Grant once it is made available. US EPA advises that they should have the final regulations and guidance ready by late Fall 2022. Borough Engineer, Eric Keller, has begun the base work for the project and will report on that. Mayor Zdichocki stated the timeframe required for completing the project will begin once the funding is received.
Sparta Road – Councilman Thornton asked if there is an update on the issues with the sign on Sparta Road. Mr. Keller stated Salmon Brothers is aware of it and the sign company is going to fix it. At this time, it is not known if the sign will be replaced or if it will be repainted. Mr. Keller stated he has a conference call scheduled with GPI and Local Aid for tomorrow to resolve the audit issues which have arisen. Mr. Keller will confirm as to whether or not Local Aid has completed their inspection.
Construction Permit Fee Waiver – Mayor Zdichocki stated, in the past, construction permit fees have been waived for entities such as the Fire Department and the Lutheran Church. The First Presbyterian Church is having a new roof installed and has asked if the permit fees can be waived. There are fees required for commercial buildings. Councilwoman Kuncken stated the background information should be validated prior to setting a precedence. Were fees waived in the past and for what groups? Mayor Zdichocki stated she spoke with the Construction Official and he stated to her that waivers have been granted in the past. Approving a waiver would require a resolution by the governing body. Much discussion took place regarding past practice and how non-profit organizations should be handled with regard to permit fees moving forward. Administrator McNeilly stated the church has been given permission to proceed with the work due to the fact this is an emergency repair. Some questions were raised as to whether all non-profit organizations should receive waivers. Should schools and emergency services be the only non-profits to receive waivers because they serve all of the community as opposed to churches which serve just a portion of the community? Councilman Romano stated, in this case, the Presbyterian Church has always supported the entire community and he suggested that perhaps it would be best to review each request on a case by case basis. Mayor Zdichocki asked Borough Attorney Bolcato if the governing body can continue to review the requests individually. Attorney Bolcato stated it could become an issue if for example one church was granted a waiver and another was not. The governing body decided to continue this discussion at the next scheduled meeting after determining if any churches have received waivers in the past.
Shade Tree Commission Request – Mayor Zdichocki stated the request by the Shade Tree Commission to have a flyer placed in the water bill mailing was discussed and approved during the Administrator’s Report.
Resolution Opposing Proposed Increases to the State Health Benefits Program – Mayor Zdichocki stated she has done some research into the proposed increase to the State Health Benefits Program and the municipalities do not have a say in what happens. Administrator McNeilly stated it is still a good idea to adopt a resolution opposing the increase. The governing body agreed to move forward with the resolution opposing the proposed increase to the benefits program which will be added to the next agenda.
Resolution Authorizing the Borough to Charge a Mailing Fee for Tax Sale Notices – Administrator McNeilly stated, at a previous meeting, the governing body approved for the upcoming tax sale to be held electronically. Charging a fee for tax sale notices provides the ability to recoup some of the costs incurred from the online service and the advertising costs by placing those fees on the lien for the properties which are on the tax sale. The electronic sale will increase the chances of receiving a better rate by reaching more participants in the tax sale. The fee would get added to the unpaid tax amount. There would be two fees charged, each totaling $25.00. Mayor Zdichocki asked the governing body if they were in favor of having a resolution authorizing the Borough to charge a mailing fee for the tax sale notices. The governing body unanimously agreed to have the resolution placed on the next agenda.
Mayor Zdichocki offered the following resolutions which were read by title.
Resolution 152-22 RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF AGREEMENT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLD WATER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHWAP)
WHEREAS, access to safe and affordable drinking water and wastewater services is a fundamental element of health, safety and well-being for households and residents; and
WHEREAS, for many low-income households across America, water affordability needs have been significantly exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health crisis, and while water is required to follow the federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advising washing hands frequently in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the pandemic has made it significantly more difficult for individuals and families to pay their home drinking water and wastewater bills; and
WHEREAS, the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) provides critical nationwide emergency support by providing financial assistance to eligible households to reduce water and wastewater bills; and
WHEREAS, in order for eligible residents in the Borough to participate in this program, the Borough must enter into an Agreement for services, in accordance with LIHWAP, with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Borough Council of the Borough of Stanhope, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, that the Mayor is hereby authorized to execute an Agreement with DCA in accordance with the LIHWAP.
Councilwoman Kuncken – yes
Councilman Thornton – yes
Councilman Riccardi – yes
Councilman Vance – yes
Councilman Romano – yes
Councilman Wronko – yes
Resolution 153-22 RESOLUTION TO REFUND OVERPAYMENT OF TAXES
WHEREAS, the title company overpaid the 2022 3rd quarter property amount; and
WHEREAS, the title company is due a refund of the amount of the overpayment.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Borough Council of the Borough of Stanhope, that a warrant be drawn to the title company named below in the designated amount representing an overpayment of taxes, as follows:
Block Lot Qual Name & Address Tax Year Amount
10404 11 Sunrise Title Services Inc 2022 $546.62
1599 Route 517
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
PAYMENT OF BILLS
Resolution 154-22 RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF STANHOPE AUTHORIZING PAYMENT OF BILLS
WHEREAS, the Chief Finance Officer has certified that funds are available in the proper account; and
WHEREAS, the Chief Finance Officer has approved payment upon certification from the Borough Department Heads that the goods and/or services have been rendered to the Borough;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Stanhope that the current bills list, dated August 23, 2022 and on file and available for public inspection in the Office of the Chief Finance Officer and approved by the Chief Finance Officer for payment, be paid.
Councilwoman Kuncken – yes
Councilman Thornton – yes
Councilman Riccardi – yes
Councilman Vance – yes
Councilman Romano – yes
Councilman Wronko – yes
Angelo Bolcato, Borough Attorney, stated he had no report this evening.
CITIZENS TO BE HEARD
On motion by Councilman Wronko, seconded by Councilman Romano, and unanimously carried by voice vote the meeting was adjourned at 8:05 P.M.
Deputy Clerk for