Residents Address Council On Professional Service Expenditures Of The Potential Land Swap Of Little Flower Church And Township's Development Of New Municipal Complex

Carol Matula addressed the council on her opposition to referendums being voted on with regard to Professional Service Agreements entered.  Credits: Bobbie Peer

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Resident Tom Foregger addressed the council at Tuesday's meeting with questions regarding three contracts the township has entered with Paul Beiser and Value Research Group, LLC [professional appraisal service], Michael Mistretta and Harbor Consultants [professional planning service] and Jim Ramentol and GRA Architects, Inc. [professional architect service] .  

Foregger made a request to the council -- "No more studies until you have clearance from the court," -- in connection with the Township's development of a new municipal complex as a result of a potential land swap with Little Flower Church.  "Wait until money becomes available," said Foregger. "And until the Matula lawsuit is settled."

Township Attorney Joseph Sordillo clarified and said, "We were successful in defending the lawsuit before the trial court."  Sordillo recommended Mayor Bruno and the council to not respond to anything regarding the pending litigation that is still ongoing in appellate court.

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Foregger had further objections in regard to resolutions on the agenda to be voted on by the council pertaining to professional appraisal and planning services. 

Township Administrator Linda Cavanaugh responded to Foregger and Carol Matula's objection of Resolution 2, stating that the resolution authorizing professional appraisal services with Value Research Group, LLC was created as a precaution of future services in connection with the landswap project and no additional money has been expended. 

Matula stated that the professional appraiser and planner should be hired for specific jobs under resolution, so tax payers would know what is going on.   Matula is opposed to Resolution 3 and 4 which would allow the Township to work with the planner and appraiser -- "without any kind of public scrutiny. On those grounds, I oppose Resolution 3 and 4," said Matula.

Foregger also stated that he believes that most of the council should not be involved in decisions of the landswap due to conflict of interest as parishioners of the Little Flower Church.  "You should not be involved in this decision in any way whatsoever," said Foregger.

Sordillo stated that there is "no conflict in this situation" between the council. 

The council voted to pass resolutions 2 and 3 with regard to the professional appraisal services in connection with the Township's developement of a new municipal complex as a result of a potential land swap with Little Flower Church and general professional appraisal services for the Township, respectively.  The council also voted to pass resolutions 4 and 5 with regard to the professional planning services with Michael Mistretta and Harbor Consultants for general professional planning services for the Township and for planning services in connection with the Township's potential redevelopment of the existing municipal complex, respectively. 

Councilman Ed Delia abstained from the vote after listening to Foregger and Matula -- " and I don't feel it is right to vote on something coming out of the Capital Budget before we have passed it," said Delia. 


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