Council Reaches Compromise With Sussex Borough Citizen Over Car Damages

Resident Nicole Hand speaks with the Board of Sussex Borough about reimbursement for her damaged vehicle. Credits: Robyn Giannini
Credits: Robyn Giannini

SUSSEX BOROUGH, NJ  -- Tuesday evening’s mayor and council meeting of Sussex Borough generated a welcome resolution to the ongoing issue between Sussex citizen Nicole Hand and the council over adequate reimbursement for damages inflicted on Hand’s car by a fallen tree while the vehicle was parked in one of the borough’s public lots. The council had originally offered Hand a voucher equivalent to two years of free parking in any of the town lots to compensate for the vehicle damage. Hand was unwilling to accept the initial voucher offer.

“I don’t pay for parking in the borough, so the offer for free parking doesn’t help me,” said Hand.

Prior to last night's meeting, Hand was still waiting to hear back from the council on whether they were willing to ammend their original offer to include monetary reimbursement, covering the full cost of repairing the car, an amount quoted by Hand’s insurance company to total $800.00. When Hand confronted the board on Tuesday, borough attorney John Ursin expressed befuddlement over why she had not yet received a letter from the council regarding voucher amendments.

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“What I meant to do was send her a letter ahead of time,” said Ursin, approaching  Hand with a copy of the letter. Ursin said its contents included a key amendment to the voucher that would enable it to be transferable to any holder, like currency. Once in possession of the voucher, Hand could use it, sell it, or do with it as she pleased.

“Think of it as a gift certificate,” said Ursin.

“I’m happy with this offer,” said Hand, although she specified that she would only accept the voucher if “whatever the dollar amount be, that it would be enough to cover the damages of the car.”

“The amendment as it is currently on the floor is two years, which amounts to $600.00,” said mayor Jonathan Rose.

Hand adamantly replied she would only embrace the council’s revised voucher if its amount equaled the sum of $800.00 to cover all repairs for damages suffered by her car. She estimated that would necessitate the voucher’s timeframe stretch to 32 months of free parking.

“We could amend the amendment, if you want,” said Rose to the council.

Councilwoman Linda Masson spoke up. “I’d like to motion to amend the amendment to the amount of $800.00.”

Masson’s motion was carried by the board, therefore Hand was granted a transferable voucher for 32 months of free parking in the borough lots, equaling a monetary value of $800.00.

Following up on business from the last council meeting, clerk Mark Zschack declared the dog census was officially under way in conjunction with Vernon Township. Zschack also commented that he had spoken with the town pastor about the absence of light in the clock tower, and was told that while the light bulbs were not in fact broken, they were set on a timing system which could be out of whack. Zschack confirmed he was looking into the situation further to ensure the timer commanding the clock’s lighting would be put back on track.

The council additionally consented to allocate money given to the town by the Sussex County Clear Communities Program to projects such as cutting grass, picking up litter and similar green initiatives designed to help keep the borough clean. Water and Sewer Adjustments for the first quarter of 2013 were also passed; however Zschack tagged on that “a five year capital improvement plan for water and sewer utility will be drafted this year.”

Hand had the final word of the night, addressing the council once again in the open public session with an inquiry unrelated to her vehicle, regarding trash bins attached to lamp posts, which are scattered throughout the town to inspire citizens to discard their litter in the bins, rather than on the ground. Hand requested a bin be placed on the lamp post in front of Good Heads Barber Shop, provided the borough possessed a vacant can up for grabs.

Zschack thought an extra can might be available, and assured Hand he would look into it today.


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