June 27th Meeting Summary
Last night we had a Council meeting where lots of great items were discussed. Here are the highlights.
We had several substantial conversations as part of the Township Manager's report. First we heard from a 5G consultant from Hoplight Communications, who recommended an approach we should take to finally develop and pass an ordinance to appropriately regulate 5G in the Township. 5G is different than our current wireless carries as it requires multiple installations that are about a football field and a half apart. It will require poles basically down Bloomfield Avenue or will need to be attached to existing structures (such as streetlights). Obviously we want to make sure that the installation of 5G does not ruin the aesthetics of our downtown. Verona is likely to have 50 5G sites approved at some point in the future. As a reminder federal law does not allow Verona to prevent 5G from being installed in our community and highly regulates our ability to regulate its installation, so this is something that will happen some day.
Since we approved using Hoplight Communications under resolutions, the public should expect to see us discuss both a 5G ordinance and a 4G small cell ordinance in our upcoming meetings. Once the ordinances are in place, if a carrier approaches Verona regarding installing 5G, we will have a public information session on 5G to discuss key questions, including health and safety and noise. Hoplight Communications does not charge the taxpayer for services, but instead is paid out of fees from the carriers.
The next major item discussed was Recreation facilities (about 30 min into the meeting). The ADA playground design at the Community Center is currently being engineered and will go out to bid shortly. It will incorporate adult exercise equipment that was donated by Partners for Health. The cost of this project is offset by a $150K grant from the County of Essex, and we expect to pay $120K-$150K for the installation of the playground.
We also discussed the planned renovation of the baby pool, which was approved in 2019. The goal is to start construction in September. The renovation includes installing water sprinkler features where the playground is, making the baby pool zero entry, and installing several new shade features. Last night we discussed the Council's desire to approve the color of these new shade and see the final water features selected. The cost of this project will be offset by a $75K grant that I helped the Township attain.
Next up was a discussion of the tennis courts at the pool (50 minutes in) - which I know are of great interest to the avid and growing pickleball community in town. The tennis courts were repaired with crack sealant recently. The plan is to install in the fall a new tile system which is placed over the current surface. The court will then become six pickleball courts while still retaining a tennis court net so that the space can accommodate both. Right now there is only room for two pickleball courts.
Under ordinances, you will notice since Mr. D'Arco's arrival as Township Manager we are starting to pass very technical ordinances that are missing from our code. Many of these ordinances are very commonplace in other municipalities. Last night we passed a new ordinance regulating utility poles in the Township. We also introduced an ordinance modernizing how we allow and payments required for road excavations. We also introduced an ordinance banning smoking and vaping on Township property, which was a surprise to me that we did not have in place already. With the recent legalization of cannabis this is a necessity. Both the road excavation ordinance and smoking prohibition ordinance will have a public hearing at our next meeting on July 11th.
Under resolutions, we approved Grove Contracting to install a new ADA ramp at town hall, Midwest Construction to reconstruct Ann/Cypress/Stevens/Willow, and John Garcia Construction to reconstruct water and sewer on Ann/Cypress/Stevens/Willow. We approved Edmunds for our software system, Suburban Sports Group for recreation officials, entered into a new cooperative purchasing agreement with Keystone Purchasing Network, and we accepted a $27K Clean Communities Grant, which we will be using for litter abatement in town center. We also executed our 2022 Qualified Private Community Services agreements for all of our private communities with the exception of Claridge House I. Meeting dates were approved for the next year as were the rules for the pool.
We also approved our licenses for plenary retail consumption (e.g. bars and catering halls) and distribution (e.g. liquor stores). A few meetings ago, we had an ordinance to raise the fees we charge these businesses by reasonable amounts ($81 for retail and $311 for distribution), but we ended up not introducing. It is my opinion we missed out on $1,338 of revenue by not moving forward, which gets compounded over time. Every bit of revenue helps - so we need to take advantage of these revenue generating opportunities in the future.
In new business we had a lengthy discussion regarding banning sump pump discharging into our sanitary sewer system. These type of hookups cause sanitary systems to back up into people's homes, including neighbors, during storm events.
Finally we made several appointments to our Boards and Commission. We are actually lacking in a lot of volunteers for several open positions. I will be making a separate post regarding those openings.
This was just a summary of what we discussed. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to send it to the entire Council at https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.