May 23rd Council Meeting Summary
Last night we had a Council meeting. Here are the highlights.
Due directly due to Councilwoman Holland's efforts, a team from Rutgers University came in to give a presentation on their flooding study in Verona. It was really fascinating and I encourage residents to watch (it starts about 18 minutes into the meeting. Click here). The team proposed some ideas on how we could try to reduce the impact of flooding along the Peckman River by channel reshaping, redirecting storm water infrastructure around problematic areas, and modifications that could be made to Verona Lake so that it acts more like a retention basin. Flood barriers for our water sewer treatment plant were also discussed. All of the data they presented (and more) will be provided to Verona so that we can use it in the future. After the presentation our Township Manager Mr. D'Arco discussed how the staff is already using the Rutgers data to think through possible solutions to our issues.
We introduced two ordinances - one to change our zoning code on how we recommend plant selection for development projects. The second is to increase the salaries for part time crossing guards and dispatchers, two necessary safety positions that we have a lot of difficulty hiring for. If you have any comments on these ordinances I encourage you to reach out to the entire council here: https://www.veronanj.org/council.
Under resolutions, we passed a resolution authorizing the Pride flag to be raised for the month of June. We made an adjustment to the budget due to the acceptance of a VMAC grant. We also authorized contracts to fix issues with the water sewer treatment plant.
We had two very interesting conversations in New Business. The first was in conjunction with a new road opening ordinance, and whether or not we should charge fees to PSE&G for opening the road. I am thankful that we have Councilwoman Holland, whose profession is in energy utilities, to help explain how rate setting actually works, and how charging a fee to PSE&G is actually expected and happens across all other municipalities. Our Township Manager also discussed the costs to the Township for road openings. In the end, I hope to see an ordinance that does charge reasonable fees for road openings to any utility company, as I don't want to see the costs passed along to our tax payers in the form of tax increases.
We had a second conversation in new business that surprised me. At the top of the meeting, the Mayor had a proclamation recognizing Gun Violence Awareness Day which is on Friday June 3rd. Mayors in Verona have been issuing this proclamation since 2018. In new business we were following up on a request to light our town buildings orange in recognition of the event and Councilman Tamburro expressed an objection. I am not going to summarize his POV on this issue, and what I said in response, but you can watch it at about 2 hrs into the meeting (click here). What I want to add, the morning after this exchange, is that as a mother, I have had to endure every day the stress and knowledge that my children need to practice hiding in their classrooms in the event there is an active shooter. In addition, as a leader in this community, I also have to live with the fear that one of our members of our incredible police department could be harmed or killed due to guns. A week or so after yet another horrific mass shooting in this country, this one driven by white nationalism, I did not expect lighting our buildings in orange as a symbolic gesture would be debated. I reaffirm my values that as leaders we need to do everything we can to keep residents and police force safe, and that bringing awareness to the epidemic of gun violence is a worthwhile activity.
As with every meeting, comments can be sent to the entire Council by emailing us at https://www.veronanj.org/council.
This post will be updated with video links when they become available.