Vernon Township Discusses Town Center Development And Recent Lawsuit

Members of the Vernon Township discuss the development of the town center and recent lawsuit. Credits: Alley Shubert

VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Town planner Jessica Caldwell attended the recent Vernon Township council meeting on March 25 to discuss the development of the town center.

The ordinance for the town center was developed from a previous document in 2005.
Caldwell asked the council to make an annual appointment to update information in the township's computer system.
“It is just recording what the town has done,” Caldwell explained. "There is no decision making, all of that lies within the council.”

Caldwell had stated at a previous work session meeting that the goal was to create “more of an emphasis on the colonial architecture,” which already is present within the township.
The topic was open for public discussion.
Resident Gary Martinsen expressed his views on the development of the town center.
“Newton has just done recent surveys and council meetings on how to redo their town center,” said Martinsen. “I went and looked at little resort towns that are successful.”
Martinsen also voiced his opinion on parking lots and the light fixtures.
“Shared parking is encouraged,” said Martinsen who also stated, “The light fixtures will be 20 feet up in the air with nothing to protect them. Lights the town previously requested could not be used because of light pollution, yet we are going to light up the whole town that way.”
According to ordinance #13-04 titled “An ordinance repealing and replacing Chapter 330-184.B Town Center District, adding design guidelines for the C-2 Zone, and repealing ordinances 07-43 and 08-02” states that lighting “decorative fixtures shall be used both along the street edge and private walkways to establish a consistent design theme. Fixtures shall be Hadco Independence (V151) fixture in black, double-headed, in black with decorative post and shaft, or an equivalent light fixture and pole approved by the Land Use Board. Downward facing lights may be approved by the Land Use Board for interior parking areas.”
Martinsen stated, “The thing I would do is take what you have right now, layout some of your rules. You’re not going to be able to build it.”
“Much of this information was developed with the Land Use Board, town engineer and town planner,” said council president Patrick Rizutto.
“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” said Caldwell. “We are taking what is already there. Many of the standards are really the same.”
In a recent work session meeting Rizutto described the lighting, using flowers and fruit trees as “really beautiful.”
Resident Mary Ellen Vinchiconti approached the council to address the fruit trees.
“If you’re putting fruit trees out there, the bears are going to go up there and eat it,” said Vinchiconti.
“I guess we are never going to do anything right, are we?” Rizutto asked the council.
In other business:
Vernon Township has filed a recent suit against four Sussex County residents and The New Jersey Herald, after the municipality stated Social Security Numbers of 119 employees, along with other confidential information, had been released.
Former mayor Sally Rinker, Jesse Wolosky, Lynn Van Gorder, and Sandra Ooms, had reportedly requested the township's payroll roster, which they later received from municipal clerk, Susan Nelson. The document was supposedly emailed to the recipients from Nelson in an attached Excel file. The township claimed Wolosky showed the information to a reporter. Township attorney Kevin Kelly had filed a suit for the township on March 22.
“In regard to OPRA and the individuals, every employee is being provided with Life Lock Security and being educated,” said mayor Victor Marotta at the March 25 township council meeting. "It is important for the council and public to understand not all OPRA documents requested.”
Marotta had also mentioned a previous lawsuit training the council undertook in 2012.
“If that lawsuit had gone to trial, there was a good chance we could have been struck with punitive damages,” stated Kelly.
The case was scheduled for court on April 5.


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