MONTVILLE, NJ – Township Administrator Victor Canning announced at the Jan. 23 township committee meeting that progress is being made on the township budget, but the capital and open space portions of the budget are “concluded.” Mayor Richard Conklin said the special Jan. 13 Saturday work session meeting was very successful.

Canning called the budget a zero budget, meaning, every item was placed into the budget starting from zero, and each item had to be justified before it was put into the budget, he said.

“The levy is not exactly where I’d like it to be but it’s early in the process,” Canning said. “Our CFO is still working on the annual financial statement and we don’t know all of our financials yet; there’s still a lot of unknown pieces.”

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The township committee will be introducing the capital budget at the first meeting in February, Canning said. The reason for this is so that scheduling for, as an example, road repairs, can be done for as soon as school lets out.

The committee will be conducting another special work session in March before the closed session of a regular township committee meeting to discuss the operating budget, since they couldn’t find a Saturday when they could all meet.

Township Attorney Fred Semrau said he is continuing to work with subcontracted planner Joseph Burgis of Burgis and Associates regarding “the capacity of the township” for the affordable housing litigation.

“He is working on various reports for the township and doing investigation work,” Semrau said of the situation. (Read more about the affordable housing situation here.)

Regarding the JCP&L power lines project, Semrau said that the Montville Township Board of Education has filed an appeal of the Board of Public Utilities decision, while the township’s portion of the decision is staid until the matter is concluded.

“If the appeal is overturned, then everything is back to square one,” Semrau said. “If it’s upheld, or settled, then the township’s settlement is preserved.”

Semrau is also developing an ordinance regarding demolition by neglect and historic properties. The township’s Historic Preservation Review Committee is currently under litigation from the corporation which owns the historic stone house located at 107 Changebridge Road, as is the township. The ordinance may be to prevent future problems regarding historic and non-historic properties.

Mayor Richard Conklin asked Semrau and Canning to look into bringing back sledding at Camp Dawson, which Committee Members June Witty and Dr. Matthew Kayne stated they were also in favor of. Conklin said only one accident had happened 15 years ago when sledding had been permitted and it would be nice to have a spot for free recreation.

Bansari Shah, a member of the Environmental Commission and founder of the Montville Green Team, spoke at the meeting to encourage the township committee to become eco-friendly by becoming involved in Sustainable Jersey. This non-profit through The College of New Jersey, Shah said, provides grants to help towns to make changes that are “easy to do, help local businesses and are good for our health.” Shah said the first step was to pass an ordinance to start the process. Conklin said the Environmental Commission liaison should talk to administration. Committee Member Richard Cook, reading the literature Shah passed out, said it looked like the town is already doing some of the items on the list.

Several neighbors from the Old Lane neighborhood in Towaco stated during public portion their support and concern regarding installing sewer lines in their neighborhood.

Ellen Conlon said her house was built in 1967 and septic systems seldom survive more than 40 years, so she was worried about her system failing.

Mark Stafford said there are 93 homes affected by the lack of sewer lines in that neighborhood and he was informally speaking for them to say that sewer lines are definitely needed in the area.

Township Water and Sewer Director John Perry had met with residents from that neighborhood according to an ordinance passed that evening. The township does have sufficient sewer capacity with Parsippany-Troy Hills Township to accept additional flow to that township’s sewer plant according to the ordinance. The first step, the ordinance says, is to determine the feasibility of the project by base mapping the existing conditions and route of the proposed area, so that the township will have a better understanding of the costs of the project, and whether the township would want to move forward with the design work. After receiving four bids, according to the ordinance, the township committee chose Suburban Consulting Engineers’ bid at $36,575 to survey the Old Lane area.

Prior to any further steps, public meetings will be held regarding the proposed project, Assistant Township Administrator June Hercek told TAPinto Montville.

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