Government

Girl Scout Honored; JCP&L and Dog Park Discussed at Montville Township Committee Meeting

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Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Megan Kolides at the Montville Township Committee meeting on October 27th.  Credits: Melissa Benno
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Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Megan Kolides with the Montville Township Committee on October 27th.  Credits: Melissa Benno
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MONTVILLE, NJ – Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Megan Kolides was honored at a regular meeting of the Montville Township Committee on Oct. 27. Township Mayor Scott Gallopo read a proclamation honoring her for “providing education and raising awareness about food allergies. She visited local restaurants and universities to inform chefs and management about safe food handling techniques. She also created and distributed a brochure containing tips for cooking for guests with food allergies. Community residents will benefit greatly from your efforts,” the proclamation read.

Library Parking Lot Ordinance

The Committee introduced for public hearing an ordinance regarding the parking and driving laws at the Montville Township Public Library.

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For more information about this ordinance, click HERE

For more information about the discussion at the meeting surrounding this ordinance, click HERE.

JCP&L

Township Administrator Victor Canning reported there will be a public hearing regarding the JCP&L project on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Montville Township High School at 6:30 P.M.

“At this hearing the public will have the opportunity to address this project, and I believe there will be a legal representative from the court system and JCP&L. We would like to encourage strong participation to voice your concerns about this project and its impact on our residents and community,” he said.

New Website Provider

Bob Perkins, Canning and Assistant Township Administrator June Hercek presented their recommendation for handling the Township’s website after Perkins retires at the end of the year. The company, Civic Plus, deals strictly with government websites. Residents will be able to fill out building permits and pay taxes and water/sewer bills online, and it’s possible to stream meetings live via the new website. He says it will also be more accessible and readable using smartphones and will have a better interface with Twitter and Facebook.

Canning also stated that if residents sign up with their email address, the new system can send out emails regarding recreation programs, emergency notifications, and the Montville Messenger magazine can be emailed instead of sent on paper, which will save money for the Township. Tax bills can also be emailed out, with confirmation that the email was received, which will also save money for the Township. He stated residents will be notified via paper in tax bills and will be asked to sign up.

When asked when the website could be implemented, Hercek stated that a resolution authorizing the agreement will probably be on the agenda for the Township Committee meeting on Nov. 10, and it will take two to three months after that to go live.

Dog Park

An ordinance was introduced regarding the Montville Township Dog Park. Canning said the ordinance, which will have a public hearing on Nov. 10, will establish an official Dog Park Advisory Committee for safety and liability reasons. The committee will have five officers and four members. Six members will be Montville residents and three can be non-residents. A liaison from the Health Department, Administration, and the Township Committee will also be non-voting members of the Dog Park Advisory Committee. After by-laws are established, rules can be enforced by administration and staff, whereas in the past, the committee had no “enforcement power.”

Pine Brook resident Joan Honig told the Committee she would like to see enforcement rules in the bylaws.

Sandham stated it was “not at all the ordinance I envisioned. We have to make sure there’s a distinction between a Township committee and a club, and who is responsible for enforcement, which belongs in a Township department. I have a problem introducing it tonight.”

Gallopo stated the committee is the eyes and ears for the Township and the ordinance says nothing about enforcement. Enforcement would be the responsibility of the Health Department, and the committee would have no role in enforcement.

Sandham stated that people not on the committee were told they had no enforcement capabilities. Canning stated that members of the existing committee wanted to make up rules regarding, for example, dogs of one weight being near dogs of another weight, and tried to implement these rules, but there were members who disagreed. Because of back-and-forth about how to voice concerns, it became an issue whether the rules could be enforced, because the committee wasn’t authorized through the Township, which has the enforcement power for the Park. Canning also stated that Township Attorney Fred Semrau had modeled it after a Mount Olive ordinance because other towns had been sued regarding issues in dog parks.

Gallopo asked Sandham if adding “not enforcement” to the ordinance would make Sandham more comfortable, even though enforcement is not part of the language of the ordinance. Canning stated the committee meetings can be attended by the other members to voice their concerns about issues. Sandham asked if past ordinances had been checked and Semrau stated he would do that. Nielson wanted wording to be clear that it is advisory, and Semrau stated that could be added.

Preliminary Budget Presentation

Canning made a very preliminary budget presentation regarding the operating budget, including salary, wages and operating expenses. The capital budget will be presented on a different date. He stated roof maintenance will need to occur, and he hopes to spread larger expenditures over ten years. He stated that Open Space items will need to be examined. He further stated that collective bargaining agreements expire at the end of the year, which could affect the budget. Because Perkins is retiring, an outside IT firm will be contracted, and the figures introduced were not reflective of that situation. He stated the Recreation Departments figures increased by $12,000 because coaches had not had background checks performed in three years, but that coaching application fees in the future would include the charge for that service. Land Use consulting fees will be reduced. He stated DPW costs will decrease because John Perry has professional licenses that will decrease the use of outside contractors. He assumes that salaries will increase by 2% “if negotiations go well.”

Conklin’s Project List

Conklin stated that he would like to have working brainstorming meetings with the Committee regarding streetscapes; replacing of guard rails, street signs, and traffic signals; road paving; and surveys regarding Land Use issues, emergency services, the roads, what recreation programs are desired, and a critique of the Township Committee’s performance. He stated he would like to improve Land Use notifications, with possibly a quarterly newsletter, and he is hoping that the new website will get more information “out there.” He would also like to see employees recognized.

Kostka stated he supports Conklin’s ideas for public work sessions “because we work for you,” he said, indicating the residents in the audience.

Nielson stated she agreed with Conklin regarding the dissemination of information. She stated that in prior years, new ordinances were discussion items on the agenda so that motions developed as part of an ongoing dialog.

“In order to achieve transparency we should adhere to that policy of having a discussion item first or the Administrator should bring it up, and we did not have a lot of open discussion before that. If the discussion occurred up front, we’d be in a different place,” she said.

Gallopo stated he agreed that ordinances should be a discussion item although certain ordinances are “housekeeping,” so the discussion would probably be short. He stated that the Dog Park ordinance should have been introduced under “New Business.” Sandham agreed that in the past all items were listed under “New Business.”

During the public portion, resident Heidi Calcagno stated that she agreed with Nielson’s point that official discussion was not readily available to the public regarding the Library parking lot ordinance. Gallopo encouraged her, and the public, to reach out to the Committee Members for information at any time.

150th Anniversary

Conklin stated he would like to see the setup of a committee for Montville’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Nielson said the celebration may need to have a budget assigned, and that volunteers for the committee should be solicited. Gallopo agreed and stated it would take an entire year to plan.

DAC and Share the Road Signs

The Committee also unanimously passed an ordinance changing the Drug Awareness Council to reduce it to thirteen members, eight with full voting abilities and five non-voting liaisons.

They voted down a resolution to erect “Share the Road” (with bicycles) signs on Changebridge Road. Members stated they did not want signs to add visual clutter to the road.

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