SPARTA, NJ- The Sparta Township Council is accepting applications from community members interested in volunteering to serve on the Special Assessment Committee. The announcement was made at the township council meeting on Tuesday.
The committee will be tasked with creating the formula for the assessment related to the Glen Lake dam replacement. Any resident who lives in the Glen Lake community would not be eligible to serve on the committee.
Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn nominated Lorraine Parker to serve on the committee. The nomination was approved by a 5-0 vote. Mayor Jerry Murphy did not vote as he resides in the Glen Lake community.
The application to apply for the committee is available on the township website.
The committee is being formed to develop a formula for repayment of a loan co-signed by the township. The members of the Glen Lake Beach Club, Inc. are responsible for repaying the loan administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The NJDEP required the Glen Lake Beach Club to make the repairs to the dam.
The township was required to sign as a “co-borrower” for the loan to assure repayment because the township has the authority to levy a special assessment as well as the authority to impose a lien on delinquent properties, according to documents related to the initial litigation in 2017.
The original special assessment for the Glen Lake dam project was challenged in court. The court found that the formula created by the original committee was not fair and required the township to go back to the drawing board. The court upheld the township’s right to create the special assessment.
In 2017 Judge Stuart Minkowitz found the township’s appointed expert’s methodology in developing the special assessment to be “arbitrary.” Further the judge said the township council’s decision to impose the special assessment was “misguided by an arbitrary and unreasonable expert report.”
The judge also found the “special assessment process was tainted by a fatal conflict of interest,” when Councilman Jerry Murphy voted on the resolution to approve the appointment of the commission that would develop the special assessment plan.
The initial 15-year loan was for $925,748 according to Township Manager William Close. Close said $422,444 has already been collected. It appears the latest court ruling will require all payments to be reviewed and property owners’ liability to be revisited, Close said.