Recap of 02/08/2018 Council Meeting

Council President Robert Hermansen and Township Attorney Brian Chewcaskie

Highlights of Town Council Meeting February 8, 2018

Eruv Settlement

Prior to opening the public portion of the meeting town attorney Brian Chewcaskie provided an update on the Eruv settlement and explained why the settlement meeting scheduled earlier in the week was cancelled. The Mr. Chewcaskie explained;

  • The meeting was cancelled based upon advice of the attorneys handling the eruv litigation and the AG litigation. The reason it was cancelled even though there was a settlement agreement entered into, authorized by the council and filed with the court on January 31st, there still are continuing actions being taken. Mahwah scheduled meeting with the rabbi and the attorneys to discuss various alternatives and they have agreed to accommodate Mahwah and do so. That meeting is scheduled the week of Feb. 20th.
  • The Montvale case has been resolved, it has been marked as settled and a formal resolution will be adopted on Tuesday (2/6/18).
  • Upper Saddle River is scheduled to return to court 2/22/18 and is actively in negotiations trying to seek a resolution.
  • Most interestingly, the town attorney stated about the negotiations that "Basically on what we've learned there is no difference in what is being discussed in Montvale or Upper Saddle River and then what has occurred in Mahwah.”
  • Mahwah requested a meeting with the attorney general’s office but do not have a meeting scheduled yet.
  • He expects that there would be a town hall within the next three weeks for any questions relating to the status of the eruv and AG litigations, presumably after both matters are resolved.

Public Portion

Eruv

A question was raised about when the Council was notified by attorneys that there was significant case law that would work against removing the eruv. The town attorney and administration said any discussion about eruv would be held after the settlement is finalized.

Affordable Housing

Questions were raised about the affordable housing issue. While the negations are ongoing the town attorney provided some updates.

  • A judge denied a firms request to consider the area around the post office as a location build affordable housing.
  • Sites under consideration are the Cross Roads location off Route 17 and the Liberty Travel site on Franklin Turnpike.
  • The range in housing units required range from 400 to almost 1,300 with the township estimating they have approximately 600 credits which would be used to offset the final number approved.

Budget

Administration is expected to provide a budget proposal to the Council at the next scheduled meeting.

Ramapough Judgment

Questions were raised about why the Town is not enforcing the judgement against the Ramapough’s zoning violations at Halifax Road. Representatives from the Polo Club estimated they spent over $100,000 and 2 years dealing with this issue. Town attorney stated they will be back in court on Monday February 12th and if the illegal structures are not removed they will then enforce the judgement. Later in the meeting Boswell engineering requested additional payment of approximately $7,500 for the hours (300+ by their estimate) related to this litigation. Mayor Laforet stated the Ramapough’s would need to apply zoning variance/permits just like any other group if they want to erect structures there.

Police & Fire Academy at Campgaw

Issues were raised regarding the cleanup and redesign of this facility due to lead contamination and noise levels. Claims were made that the County is not providing the redesign plans with the town. The Mayor stated he requested the plans weeks ago but has not received them, Council President Hermansen said he would request the plans through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). A resident stated he attended a meeting of the Bergen County Freeholders where he was assured the decibel level at the site would not be any louder after the redesign is completed.

Sewer Odors

Residents near Chapel Road claim a filtering solution for sewer gases entering their homes in cold weather is not working. The issue has been ongoing for over a year and based on studies the issue relates to housing sewer line being directly connected to the Bergen County Main line. Council President stated that Mahwah pays a lot of money to the Bergen Sewer Authority and they should address this issue with a permanent solution. Mayor Bill Laforet said he sent a request asking the sewer authority to separate the housing line from the main sewer line.

Council Presidents Update

During his update the Council President and the Mayor got into a heated discussion about social media posts regarding false statements about the eruv settlement that the Mayor allegedly sponsored. The Mayor denied the allegations and Council President asked the Mayor to stop making public statements until the settlement is finalized.

Resolution #123-18 Police Rules and Regulations

Per town attorney the regulation was being updated because it was outdated and not statutorily correct. The revised regulation was reviewed by the PBA and police chief and final regulation will be presented for approval. 

Consent Agenda

All of the items listed on the Town Council Meeting Agenda were unanimously approved except for one. Council President Hermansen abstained on Item #108-18 Amendment: Professional Service Contract Resolution; Resolution #026-18; Labor/Employment Attorney stating he had some questions to ask the labor/employment attorney.