PEAPACK AND GLADSTONE NJ - An important amendment to the Peapack-Gladstone land use ordinance cleared another procedural hurdle at Tuesday’s borough council meeting, but the votes of two council members left some observers scratching their heads.
On the agenda of the July 28 meeting was a resolution to pass on first reading an ordinance codifying certain recommendations made by the borough’s Land Use Board in its January 29, 2015 report. Based on the recommendations the report, the borough council was scheduled to take the next procedural step toward adoption of the board’s recommendations.
Consideration of the ordinance met an immediate roadblock. Citing a need for more information, Councilman Bill Simpson made a motion to table the resolution. Councilman Roy Smith immediately seconded the motion. Councilmen Corigliano, J.P. Caminiti and Jerry Gunning opposed the motion to table the resolution.
After some discussion, Council President Suriano joined Simpson and Smith, voting to table the resolution. With the council deadlocked three-to-three, Mayor Bill Muller voted to break the tie, defeating the motion.
The landscape then shifted when it came time to vote on the resolution to pass the ordinance on first reading. Councilmen Corigliano, Caminiti and Gunning voted to pass the ordinance on first reading. Councilman Simpson abstained. Councilman Smith voted no. Councilman Suriano, having just voted to table the resolution, voted to pass the ordinance on first reading.
A “yes” vote on the first motion would have delayed passage of the ordinance. A “no” vote on the second motion could have done the same thing. In a telephone interview, Suriano clarified his position.
“In the first vote, I was deferring to the requests of two councilmen who wanted more time and more information,” said Suriano. “That vote did not reflect any opposition on my part to consideration of the ordinance or my own desire to delay. The second vote was a different question. The second vote was not about whether my colleagues had enough time or information. It reflects my belief that this an important question, one which the council needs to decide.”
Councilman Gunning, who served on the Land Use Board and the Master Plan Subcommittee explained in a telephone interview that the information has been the subject of several Land Use Board meetings, and that each councilman will have at least six weeks to study the matter before making a final vote on passage.
The proposed ordinance now heads to the Land Use Board for a routine review. The council is scheduled to consider the merits of the proposed ordinance at its September 22, 2015 meeting.