SUMMIT, NJ - Council Chambers were packed for the October 2 meeting of the Summit Common Council, thanks to vote to prohibit the retail sale of dogs and cats in the Hilltop City and a resolution that honors popular former Summit Mayor with the naming of a space for kids at the Summit Community Center.
The Law & Labor ordinance to prohibit the retail sale of dogs and cats in Summit was moved by Ward 2 Council Member Stephen Bowman. He believes it will help to promote adoptions and decrease the number of animals in shelters. Bowman said that Summit has three stores focused on pet-related services, and that the owner of the lone pet store, which doesn’t sell animals, has expressed support for the ordinance.
All audience members who spoke supported the ordinance. Veterinarian Laura Armenti of Madison, pointed to the animal overpopulation, and called the sale of animals likely from puppy mills “supporting animal abuse.” She said she’s observed a range of medical conditions and even congenital defects in pet-store puppies. From a consumer view, it’s “allowing people to purchase sick animals.” She also noted that shelter animals are frequently “mutts,” which have more diverse genetics and are consequently usually healthier.
Ike Welsh said it was time to “join the 100-plus communities in the state who’ve already passed this measure” and put an end to the consumer demand for puppy mill dogs.
Brian Hackett, the New Jersey state director of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS), thanked the Council on behalf of the HSUS’s members. He said potential pet owners can still deal directly with responsible breeders, who care about both the dogs and the customers and who would never sell through a pet shop. Similar ordinances have been repeatedly upheld in courts around the country. Hackett also said 24 of 25 of the country’s largest pet retailers in the country refuse to sell cats and dogs, but rather assist in shelter adoptions.
Larry Cohen of Fanwood, volunteer legislative coordinator with HSUS, urged council to pass the measure, applauding the research Council put into the measure. He said he’s seen towns turn animal sale bans into a “right versus left” issue, when it’s “really just an animal cruelty issue.”
Madeline Gould, the Council members Gould’s daughter, said her mom had spoken to her about the question. The 18-year-old said that as a member of “the new voice of Summit citizenship,” she completely supports the ordinance.
Council Member at Large Beth Little thanked the large crowd for attending, saying many residents had contacted her, and that the ordinance had been the topic of the eighth-grade civic project as well. All the emails she’d received from residents have supported the measure.
Marjorie Fox, Ward 2 Council member, echoed those thoughts and added that now was the right time to address the issue proactively since there are no pet sellers currently operating in town.
Mike McTernan, Ward 1 council member, had previously been the sole vote against introducing the ordinance. While stressing that he absolutely abhors puppy mills, he maintained that “sending ethical statements about puppy mills is not our job.” He suggested that a resolution deploring puppy mills would be appropriate, but that the Council should not be enacting a law. He also referred to county, state, and federal regulations already in place.
Greg Vartan, Ward 2 Council member, expressed his support from both a moral and financial standpoint.
Naidu, while taking McTernan’s objections seriously, used the analogy of recreational cannabis sales, and what Summit would do if the state okays it, whether they would decide to regulate it. “This is no different.” The ordinance passed 6-1, with McTernan voting no.
Following the vote, Naidu called a brief break to allow attendees to leave if they wished. When the meeting resumed at 8:47, the room had largely cleared out.
Former Mayor Glatt Honored
Earlier in the evening, Council President David Naidu started the meeting by pulling a Community Programs & Parking Services resolution to the top of the agenda. Moved by Ward 1 Council Member Stephanie Gould, it recognizes former two-term Mayor and longtime City volunteer Jordan Glatt by establishing the “Jordan Glatt Youth Lounge” at the Summit Community Center.
Glatt had helped ensure that funds were dedicated to the new Community Center.
Naidu acknowledged the “Jordan Glatt fan club” who suggested the proposal, which was to have been acted on in July but was deferred because of the death Council Member Matt Gould, who’d championed the cause. Naidu listed some of Glatt’s many contributions, ranging from his Council service to fund-raising for various local causes to collecting turkeys at Thanksgiving. “That is what makes this town great, people who are willing to donate their most precious thing, which is their time, to help out others.” The resolution was unanimously approved.
Speaking after a standing ovation, Glatt joked that the youth-focused honor was ironic since “I was the first mayor to cancel Halloween.” He admitted to being “a bit embarrassed” at being recognized for doing something for which he got “so much more in return.” He credited Summit itself with inspiring his actions. Glatt thanked the many people in Summit’s government and private sectors with whom he’s worked over the years, culminating with his family. He said, “I hope I have led by example for my boys, to see that no matter how small, if you can make your little piece of earth a better place, you have that obligation.”
Ordinances and Further Resolutions
Gould introduced an ordinance to establish the rules and fee structure for a dual-port electric vehicle charging station in the Deforest Avenue lot. Approved unanimously, it will be heard at the October 15 Council meeting.
Gould then moved a Community Programs & Parking Services resolution to approve the execution of a grant agreement in the amount of $6,000 with the NJDEP 'It Pays to Plug In' electric vehicle charging program. It would help to pay for the Deforest charging station. The resolution passed. She followed up with a resolution authorizing the purchase of the charging station itself. McTernan pointed out that the fees and costs for the charging station were currently unknown, since the ordinance setting them had not yet been voted on. Naidu suggested that -- since few members of the public would have a chance to weigh in on a discussion of those fees tonight -- the resolution should be tabled. Rita McNany, parking services manager, assured the Council that would not affect the grant application. The motion to table was passed.
Little moved a Finance resolution authorizing the issuance of notes to fund the bond ordinance passed in June, not to exceed $5,299,000.
Bowman had a pair of Law & Labor resolutions, one extending sick leave with and without pay for a DPW employee through the end of the year and one declaring a vacancy due to retirement of an administrative assistant in the police department.
Five Capital Projects & Community Services resolutions were moved by Fox. The first amended the City’s Greening Union County grant, originally proposed for 100 trees. In honor of Matt Gould, who was passionate about planting trees in Summit, the number of trees to be added in 2020 is being increased to 250. Fox thanked the Freeholders for being amenable to the change. The $37,000 grant match will be in the 2020 budget. Paul Cascais, DCS director, said Summit will plant 250 trees annually over the next four years to reach the goal of 1000 new trees.
A resolution authorized an increase in funding to planning firm Topology for Broad Street West redevelopment work. This resolution authorizes an additional $38,828.51 for additional Phase 2 outreach work performed at the request of the City.
A resolution amended the professional services agreement for the Community Center renovation project in the amount of $594.10 to Atlantic Engineering Laboratories for additional soil testing.
Funding was also authorized to pay for additional work on the Locust Culvert replacement project. While relocating the sanitary sewer main below the stream bed, it was discovered that the storm sewer line was also exposed and in need of repair, requiring an additional $52,419.01 payment to Union County to repair that defect.
Finally, there was authorization to purchase a Ford F450 truck with a snow plow through the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council for $41,288. It replaces a 2008 truck that will be sold via Municibid.
All these resolutions passed.
A pair of items for Discussion, Action, or Referral were raised by Gould and Vartan. The first concerned Summit Downtown Inc.’s request for free holiday parking. McNany said SDI is committed to a $3,000 payment as well as providing a marketing plan, but that plan has not yet been provided. Council will consider SDI’s memo from SDI at the next meeting, providing the plan has been received.
Also, the developer of the New Darlington complex at 123-127 Summit Avenue has requested that one parking meter at the site be bagged for an unspecified period of time, and another meter be removed to accommodate a circular driveway. McNany said the usual bagging fee is $25/meter per day times six days a week, though for long-term applications, the fee may be reduced to $10/day. The same developer has previously asked for the removal of meters. Fox asked what lost revenue might be associated with the removed meter; McNany replied that $1,000/year for 20 years is reasonable. She also said that with redevelopment, more parking spaces may be disappearing, and urged caution in setting precedents. Several council members noted that these changes would only benefit the developer. Vartan indicated the Parking Services committee needs to discuss this further.
Radest issued a proclamation declaring October 6-12 as 'Fire Prevention Week' in Summit. She cited statistics showing that 4/5 of fire-related deaths occurring from home fires – 2,630 people in 2017. There were 357,000 home fires across the US that year. When the smoke alarm sounds, one may have less than two minutes to escape; a practiced fire preparation and escape plan demonstrably saves lives. This year’s slogan is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape – Plan and Practice Your Escape!”
The proclamation was presented to Summit Deputy Fire Chief Donald Nelson and Lieutenant Joseph Moschello, fire prevention coordinator. Nelson added that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and that the department would be wearing pink polo shirts in recognition.
Union County Board of Elections Administrator Nicole DiRado gave a short demonstration of the new Express Vote XL voting machines. The machines feature a touch screen and a paper backup creating an audit trail. The on-screen ballot mirrors the sample ballot mailed to voters in advance. Voters get to see the paper copy of the selections they’ve made before verifying and casting their vote. Provisional ballots will still be handled as they have been in the past. The machines, made in Omaha, Nebraska. Have already been used in some Union County communities for the primary election. They are not connected to the internet; results are transmitted via a secure T-1 line. Results are saved to a USB stick drive which will be securely transported to the municipal clerk’s office on election night with a sheriff escort. The paper with the machines will have a county police escort to the location where they are impounded for the prescribed 17 days. Every polling place in Summit will have them for the November election. Additional public demonstrations will be given on October 10 at the Community Center, October 22 at the Chestnut Street Housing Complex, and October 29 at the library.
In other election-related matters, residents were reminded that if they previously voted at the Brayton Elementary School, they will now vote at the Cornog Field House.
Naidu provided a heads-up of upcoming council activities during the year’s five remaining meetings. He anticipated dealing with the plastics restrictions in November; the sidewalk master plan this month and next; and reviewing and voting on the Development Regulations and Ordinances, to be reviewed first by the Planning Board, in November or December.
Radest took the opportunity to clear up a misunderstanding from the previous meeting. She quoted the Junior League’s mission to train women to be effective community leaders and in that capacity, they launch and fund programs and projects – but they not continually fund them. She said members expressed concern over implications during discussion of the new senior bus that the League was in some way “slacking off.” Radest stressed that the city recognizes and is appreciative of all the League has done in its 90 years of work in the City.