April 25th Council Meeting Update
Last night we had another long Council meeting, as we have so much we are working on. It was very productive! Here are the highlights of what we discussed in order of significance.
We hired an engineering firm, Jacobs Engineering, to design the solution to our PFAS water contamination. The cost of this design phase will be around $500K, and will take several months. In upcoming meetings we will get updates on the timeline for the engineering phase and a recommendation of which treatment option will be best for Verona. Once that is determined the cost to build the remediation system will be known. I am happy to see this project move forward under the direction of our new Township Manager.
Last night we also voted to advance the One Sunset (a.ka. Spectrum) project to the Planning Board by completing our constancy review. At the last meeting, we voted that the project was inconsistent with the redevelopment plan for the area, focusing on a few areas: the circular drive, the location of the offsite parking, and the size of the patios in the courtyard. We also wanted a second planner to review the project plans to ensure that we did not miss anything. We completed the second review, which did not raise any significant additional issues, and the developer adjusted the location of the parking lot to make it consistent with the Plan. What remains as an issue, by a vote of 4-1 by the Council, is the circular driveway. We find that it is inconsistent with the redevelopment plan, and the Planning Board will need to address this with the developer. For the members of the public interested in this project, please attend the future Planning Board meetings to make sure that your questions and input are part of the process. I would expect the review of this project to take several meetings.
We approved ordinances last night to spend $1.55 million (minus grants) to reconstruct Derwent Avenue and install 30 ADA ramps around town. ADA ramp construction will be starting shortly. We also voted on a $1 million bond to improve the water and sewer distribution system for Ann, Cypress, Steven and Willow. This is a necessary step to take before re-construction of the road.
The Council introduced several ordinances, all of which will have a second reading next meeting. One ordinance was to establish a $1,000 per week Community Center gym rental fee, which is actually a fee reduction to our current ordinance. At this time entities that want to rent the gym need to pay an hourly fee that is cost prohibitive for weekly rentals. We need to make some additions to our salary ordinance for the part time positions of payroll clerk and violations clerk, so that was another ordinance that was introduced. Another introduced ordinance was to lease space to DISH wireless for a $40K annual fee. In new business we also introduced a final ordinance to increase our previous approval for pool slide maintence from $65K to $90K due to increased costs with the project.
Last night we also approved several resolutions, including awarding the demolition bid for the Cameco factory to IBN Construction for $280K. Expect demolition to start soon. We also hired the law firm of DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole, and Giblin to help us with any matters related to our agreement with Fair Share Housing/COHA, should they arise. We signed off on contracts with E&M O'Hara Electric for work that needs to happen at the pool, the fireworks vendor Starfire for 4th of July fireworks, the Cougar Aquatic Team, and some procedural housekeeping for ADA compliance, finance, and managing volunteer applications for the fire department. The hearing that was planned for Ajaco Towing was postponed. The Council also went into Executive session.
Finally, we discussed a proposal to start a composting pilot with Java Composting, which would be available to 50-70 residents. I cannot wait to get more details on that proposal. The presentation was one hour into the meeting for residents that want to learn more on what was discussed.
Whew! It was a long meeting but we have many important projects to get through. Any comments on these matters should be sent to entire council at https://www.veronanj.org/council.