Government

Randolph Township Council Discuss Freeholders Budget, Sussex Turnpike Concerns, and Coyote Master Plan

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RANDOLPH, NJ- The town council met again on Thursday night, June 4, to hear from the freeholder's and their budget. They also discussed an update on the Sussex Turnpike Project, introduction to a new ordinance and coming up with a Coyote Management Plan.

Freeholders were invited to the council meeting to discuss the 2015 Morris County Budget. To read and review the budget please click the following link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/258891401/2015-Introduced-Budget

The meeting continued with the review on the Sussex Turnpike Project. A project meeting held for the public raised a few concerns for property owners.  Among the issues reviewed was determining how the West Hanover right-of-way is to be vacated. It was the town's desire for the county to handle the issue, however, logistically it may seem that the issue will have to go through the town. The township wants the county to handle the manner in which the land is to be disbursed and they want it to be done amicably with the property owners.

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The property owners agreed that the would follow up with the neighboring property owners in meeting during the next coming weeks. They look to resolve the issue in a satisfactory way.

Another matter was brought up by the animal hospital and their access issue. The town has agreed to follow up on the problem. They will look at the design and talk to property owners about some ideas to help mitigate the concerns.

"We stressed the importance of the follow up and communication with the property owners along the route. We felt that the discourse with the public may have not been there to the degree we would've liked it to be done," said Town Manager Stephen Mountain.

Mountain has asked for the consultants and engineers involved in the project to continue follow up with anyone who has expressed "being in the dark" on certain things.

"Hopefully by the time they are ready to break ground some of these concerns will have been alleviated and we will have used this delayed period in a manner that makes the project better for Randolph," said Mountain.

Mountain does want to make clear that this is a county project and while the council is working alongside with the county they do not want to be their surrogate representatives in the process.

The council introduced a new ordinance Thursday night as well. The ordinance provided a temporary construction easement over property owned by resident Matthew Sprung. Sprung conveyed a temporary allowance for the town to work on the property, which would include grading activities, removal of an existing railroad tie retaining wall and construction of a new retaining wall on Sprung's property. The town accepted the conveyance of the temporary construction easement.

The last discussed item addressed the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee's (WMAC) recommendation for a Coyote Management Plan. The idea was brought up before the recent coyote attack and since then there have been many more reported incidences and sightings. On May 27, WMAC Chair Russ Nee gave a presentation to the committee on coyote behavior and presented educational information. During the meeting the committee made three recommendations to be brought back to the council.

The first would be to build an education program that takes advantage of all the mediums to better educate the public on precautionary actions to protect pets as well as educate them on the behavior of a coyote itself.  The mediums discussed were the town website, quarterly newsletters and park postings. The second recommendation was to set up a public education session sometime around the fall.  This meeting will be advertised for the public to attend in order to have a more direct interaction on the subject and have any questions answered. The last and more discussed recommendation was the idea of hunting coyotes.

The committee reviewed all the pros and cons to this sort of action. After the discussion, the committee agreed to take a limited action.

"The most experienced people involved with the town's hunting program would hunt coyotes, not on a targeted basis but more as they are sighted or if the opportunity unveils itself," said Mountain.

One of the two hunting frameworks is the special permit hunt, which is a small group of roughly 20 expertise hunters. This group would hunt the coyote, within the corresponding hunting season, should they encounter one. Coyotes will not be the primary focus, however, if the opportunity comes up the hunter will be able to take action.

"There is no guarantee this would eliminate or even minimize sightings or attacks like the one we just had. The coyote is animal that’s not like the deer it's much more wildly and harder to hunt," said Mountain.

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