August 8th Meeting Summary
Last night we had a meeting with a lot of ordinances passed and introduced. Here is a summary.
We finally passed an ordinance regulating 5G in Verona. As was stated previously, 5G is heavily regulated by Federal and State rules, so we cannot prevent 5G from coming to Verona. Apparently its in Caldwell and Montclair, so it's coming soon. What this ordinance does do is allow Verona to charge the carriers acceptable fees and places some regulations on how they can establish the 5G structures in our right of ways. If a 5G carrier does apply to come in the district, expect a "town hall" meeting just on the topic of 5G so that we can all understand better where the 5G locations will be installed.
Two ordinances were passed regulating sump pumps. If you have a sump pump, it is now officially illegal to have your sump pump discharge pumped into our sanitary sewer system. Doing so creates havoc in big storms - flooding our sewer plant. It also causes our sanitary sewer system back up into people's homes. In addition, the Council passed regulations on new and existing sump pumps. On existing sump pumps, if they cause a public nuisance, including ice buildup on the streets, those drainages systems now need to be re-routed. Anyone installing new sump pumps will also have new regulations to follow. Note that on this second ordinance I abstained from voting due to a personal conflict.
Last night we fixed some issues with our Code on time-limited parking restrictions on Grove between Bloomfield and Personette. Time restrictions are new removed. We also approved allowing the Police department to hire outside of Civil Service, which should allow for a greater candidate pool for open positions, for which we have one currently.
The Council introduced three ordinances last night, the most important of which was a new Zoning ordinance to re-zone the portion of Bloomfield Avenue between Montrose and South Prospect (excluding the church properties). Previously, the Council agreed to re-zone this portion of Bloomfield as part of our agreement with Fair Share Housing. This new zoning will help to facilitate future projects to re-develop portions of the block to include buildings with housing. Retail spaces on the bottom and two floors of housing will be allowed, as will the creation of parking structures in the back. The total building height is the same as what is in our current zoning. This ordinances will go to the Planning Board for their review and public comment next before it comes back to the Council.
We also introduced an bond ordinance for $340K for necessary equipment for the Police department, which includes upgrading for the State radio system and new data terminals for the police cars. Additionally we introduced an ordinance to define the Veterans tax exemption based upon disability in our code.
Last night there was an addendum to our agenda where several resolutions were passed. The first was a resolution for a $25K contract with a law firm that related back to split decision back in January to hire a law firm due to a personnel issue (see January 3rd Council summary for more details). I voted against this resolution, as I think spending $25K of taxpayer money on this matter was not necessary. There were other ways we could have proceeded that would not have cost the taxpayers this much money, had only others on the Council be open to a discussion. The resolution on the law firm passed 3-2 (Councilwoman Holland also voted against it).
Under the addendum we also passed a resolution to accept the donation of 174 Sunset. As we discussed last night, the Township's plan for this property is to keep it undeveloped and use it to help manage stormwater coming off the Montclair Golf course property. More on this plan at future meetings.
Two other important items to note. At the start of the meeting, the Multicultural Inclusion and Accessibility Advisory Committee came in to present an update to the Council on ideas for new events, a plan for promotion, and best practices for disability inclusion. New events include adding a community event for Hispanic Heritage Month, MLK day, Women's History Month, National Disability Awareness Month, and Older American's Month. We had a great conversation, and the MIAAC got some feedback to proceed.
Finally during public comment, we had a Verona couple, Rob and Staci Puleo, come to introduce themselves and discuss whether the Council would consider amending our ban on cannabis dispensaries in Verona. The couple recently received a cannabis micro business license and would like to establish a dispensary on Pompton Avenue at the old Chase bank location. The Township Manager will be reviewing their proposal and engage legal council on how best to proceed. Should the Council want to consider allowing this business, we would be seeking a lot of public feedback, and it would require two ordinances. If this is an issue you are passionate about, I encourage you to watch the public comment portion of the meeting.
If you have any comments or questions for the Council, please send it to us here: https://www.veronanj.org/council.