20180718 Village Council Public Meeting

A REGULAR PUBLIC MEETING OF THE VILLAGE COUNCIL OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD HELD IN THE SYDNEY V. STOLDT, JR. COURT ROOM OF THE RIDGEWOOD VILLAGE HALL, 131 NORTH MAPLE AVENUE, RIDGEWOD, NEW JERSEY ON JULY 18, 2018 AT 8:00 P.M.

 

  1. CALL TO ORDER – OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT – ROLL CALL – FLAG     SALUTE

Mayor Hache called the meeting to order at 8:01 P.M. and read the Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act. At roll call the following were present: Deputy Mayor Knudsen, Councilman Sedon, Councilman Voigt, Councilwoman Walsh, and Mayor Hache. Also present were Heather Mailander, Village Manager/Village Clerk and Matthew Rogers, Village Attorney.

Mayor Hache led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as well as in a Moment of Silence to honor the brave men and women serving in our armed forces and all our first responders.

  1. ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORTS

Mayor Hache moved the Bills, Claims, and Vouchers, and Statement of Funds on Hand as of June 30, 2018, be accepted as submitted. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

  1. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC

 

Tony Damiano, 274 South Broad Street, stated that he was glad to see that the Village was making progress with the parking garage. He added that there was a presentation at the Historic Preservation Committee and he likes the design very much, but he suggested that there should be an entrance at the corner of South Broad Street and Hudson Street, as that is the focal point of the garage. Mr. Damiano stated that the idea that the meters have to be raised to seventy five cents per hour is understandable and he hopes that the meters in the garage will be less so that the employees can finally get off the street and utilize the garage. He stated that twelve years ago, when he was President of the Chamber of Commerce, he said that the meters should be raised, citing the rates per hour in other nearby towns.

Mr. Damiano stated that he felt the Building Department took the sidewalk repairs too far, adding that on his block there were six businesses that have to have their sidewalks repaired to the tune of $800 to $1,000 per business. He feels that the Village should have applied for a grant for this work. He stated that Pompton Lakes acquired a grant for $100,000 to have sidewalks repaired a couple of years ago, and there is grant money out there.

Mr. Damiano asked about the park lighting plan and whether there were any updates. He added that the Ridgewood Guild has a new event that was just approved, which is a ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ on Sunday, August 26th at 4:00 P.M. which is being conducted by Black Box Theater of Teaneck. They will end the summer season with Musicfest on Sunday, September 9th. He added that Glen Rock will be starting a Guild as well.

Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that he fully supports any plan that the Village Council might have to move the School Board election from November to April. He added that he fully supports their intent to vote on that through a resolution this evening. He attended the BOE meeting earlier this week when the topic was discussed and he still feels that there is no reason why the election should not be moved. The primary reason he wants to have the election in April is that it returns the opportunity for the voters to vote on the budget and if the budget is voted down, it offers the Village Council the opportunity to do the checks and balances on it, which can not happen if the vote remains in November.

Laurie Weber, 235 South Irving Street, stated that at the most recent Board of Education meeting, Sheila Brogan offered misleading information regarding S-2464 pending in the NJ Senate to extend the moratorium on moving school elections back to April. She stated that there was nothing in S-2464 that suggests any retroactive actions on municipalities that move their vote back to April prior to the bill’s passing. She stated that S-2464 is not predicated on the formation of the school district annual school election commission, rather the moratorium it imposes would last until ten days after that commission is formed and delivers their report. Ms. Weber stated that according to Ms. Brogan, she heard from the Governor’s appointee to the Commission that the Commission had not been impaneled and may never have been impaneled. In other words, once S-2464 is adopted, the Village will likely never have the option to move the school elections back to April. Ms. Weber stated that also contrary to Ms. Brogan’s assertions, if the bill’s sponsor chooses to act on it, it can move through the legislature within a week.

Ms. Weber stated that voter participation in School Board elections has decreased since the elections were moved to November. She added that the largest voter turnout for regular BOE business in the last eight years was in 2010 with no contested seats. Residents who scrutinize the school budget and show up in April to cast their vote, provide a service to the community and important check and balance to the BOE until they did away with that.   She stated that Board member Christina Krauss has unwaveringly respected the community she serves, by voting no on the budgets when the residents did not agree with them. Ms. Krauss is a hero in the community and has characterized the movement of the elections to November as a ‘debacle.’

Ms. Weber stated that having the school elections in November doesn’t prevent anyone from voting, but it prevents everyone from voting on the school budget. If voter turnout is so important, then the Board of Education should understand that in 2014 they made a decision that brought the voter turnout for the budget down to zero. She added that you don’t penalize by taking away an important voter opportunity in hopes of appeasing those who can’t be bothered or might not show up. The opportunity to vote must give priority over the choice to vote.

Anne Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that she attended the Board of Education meeting this week and she has great respect for the BOE, school system, and the teachers, adding that she is an advocate for the local schools. She added that she feels very strongly that the vote on the BOE budget should be returned to the public. She can’t think of a single reason why it shouldn’t be done, adding that she would like to have her legal right to vote on it.

Lauren Riker, 224 South Irving Street, stated that she was asking the Village Council to vote to move the School Board elections to April. As the daughter of a NYC retired school teacher and the mother of a young son who will be attending the Ridgewood schools, she thinks it is very important that she has a right to vote on that budget.

Saurabh Dani, 390 Bedford Road, stated that he was requesting that the Village Council vote to move the BOE elections from November to April. He added that the BOE members have the best intentions and he respects that, but he feels that because voters don’t have the final vote they have lost touch from taxpayers on what they want and that is what he experienced during the last budget hearings. He stated that during the hearings at the BOE regarding the preliminary budget, there were petitions for changes, however they were told that it was too late to make any changes.

Mr. Dani also read a paragraph from earlier Village Council meeting minutes regarding Councilwoman Knudsen questioning a 22% increase for leaf removal. He stated that this meeting was in 2015, and that every year they say that the contractor underbid the previous year, yet the money increases the next year. It may be valid, but there is a problem with the process. He suggested presenting surrounding towns’ costs for those services and then use those costs to base giving the contract to a specific contractor. They should not be showing a bidding process when one does not exist.

Linda Tarzian, 576 Highland Avenue, stated that she is a 30-year resident and taxpayer of the Village. She thanked the Village Council for serving the Village, and thanked the Board of Education members as well. She is requesting that the Village Council consider moving the BOE election to April, because as a taxpayer, she feels she should have a right to exercise her approval or disapproval of the BOE budget. Ms. Tarzian stated that as a taxpayer, she finds it incomprehensible that the residents don’t have a right to comment on the BOE budget in a meaningful way, and that they must rely on five elected officials, the Board of Education members, to vote on the BOE budget. She encouraged the Council to do what is in the best interest of the entire community.

Hyun-Ju Kwak, 291 Highland Avenue, stated that she was firmly in support of allowing the taxpayers to vote in the school budget in April, so that the Board of Education knows what the constituents want. She added that the residents should have some input and understand how the budget is being allocated and utilized. The school budget is $110 million and growing at 4%, which far outpaces income and information growth. Ms. Kwak stated that she thinks residents should have some input on the way that the BOE budget is formed, and the only way to do so is to restore the vote to April. She stated that the argument that it would cost too much to hold the vote in April is without narrative in her opinion, adding that it costs less than $2 per resident, which is less than a half day of parking in downtown.

Anshul Agarwal, 395 Hamilton Road, stated that his daughter was preparing for middle school this year, and he was at the meeting to support moving the school election back to April to get the school budget vote back. He added that he wants a say on how his hard earned money is put to use, whether judiciously or not, for the benefit of his child’s education and development. Mr. Agarwal stated that he wants complete transparency and the ability to be heard regarding the school budget. Two-thirds of the Village’s taxes goes to the school and yet, residents have no real voice. In any matter related to community, it is good to have a democratic process and therefore a partnership between the BOE and residents will lead to a healthy, sustainable budget and spending for the schools.

Jeanne Johnson, 325 Mastin Place, stated that she was not certain what was best for residents considering the Board of Education vote, adding that she would like to see more people engage in the process but it appears only a fraction of people are even interested. She stated that the Board of Education has always been transparent, sending multiple letters and if anyone wants to know what’s happening in the school district, it is easy to find. Their website is user friendly and filled with valuable details. Ms. Johnson stated that the thing she is concerned about tonight is the spirit in which the discussion began, as it appears that are a handful of residents who are uncomfortable with that last Board of Education budget increase. They have been vocal with their concerns. She added that if it hadn’t been so mean-spirited, it would be exciting to see so much passion about local issues.

Ms. Johnson stated that it seems some people have a lack of trust for the elected officials, or as she likes to call them – dedicated, hardworking, educated, and committed volunteers. It is impossible to agree with everything that they do, but at the end of the day, they deserve respect. When she hears her neighbors accusing the Board of Education of spending like drunken sailors, she takes issue with that. It takes a lot of money to manage 800 plus employees and eleven buildings. Ms. Johnson stated that the Board handles all of this, along with the burden of following County, State, and Federal mandates. The budget process is complicated, and as far as she is concerned, the Board of Education members who have worked on the budget in the 15 years that she has lived here, have done an exceptional job. She added that they have kept the tradition of excellence that the school district is known for intact. The home values correlate with the success of the schools and everyone knows Ridgewood is doing fine. Ms. Johnson stated that Ridgewood’s taxes are ridiculously high, but again she doesn’t think giving the public an opportunity to vote on the budget will affect that, as there are many things that affect the cost of running the school district efficiently.

Ms. Johnson stated that the Education Center is a building that is on the National Register of Historic Places, and this status costs taxpayers an inordinate amount of money. There is a protocol that needs to be followed for necessary upgrades which are costly, mentioning the recent window replacement. Ms. Johnson added that she does not believe that the Board of Education would jeopardize programs for the students in exchange for these extravagances, as new windows are a necessity as they can actually save the district money. She encouraged people to get the facts, make generous assumptions, and take time to get to know our leaders before accusing the Board of Education of throwing away our money.

Dan Creed, 897 Hillcrest Road, stated that being a taxpayer in the State of New Jersey has become much more difficult in 2018 for a host of reasons, hence as elected representatives, their burden has gone up exponentially also. He mentioned the recent BOE window replacement cost of $750,000, adding that it would take about 800 years for the natural gas savings to be worth the cost of the new windows. He supports moving the elections from November to April. Mr. Creed stated that two things have changed since the vote was taken away; one is the vote was taken away under the premise of the 2% cap, but what he thinks most taxpayers didn’t realize is that it wasn’t really a 2% cap because there were all sorts of loopholes. He added that in this country, he just doesn’t know how a vote can be taken away, and when there is an opportunity to give the vote back, why the BOE would turn their back on that. The vote is a very sacred thing in this country, and the vote on the BOE budget was taken away on the premise of a 2% cap that wasn’t really 2%. Mr. Creed stated that the situation has changed dramatically, adding that the Village carries a lot of debt on its books right now. He thinks that the residents deserve to have a vote on the budget driver that drives 65% of their tax dollars.

Steve Kim, 291 Highland Avenue, stated that first and foremost this is about the kids, adding that he really wants the schools to do well and be well-funded. He added that he will most likely vote in favor of the proposed BOE budgets, but he still wants the voting rights. He worked in an industry that was self-regulated and self-regulation doesn’t work. It might work next year and the year after, but somewhere down the line, it is going to break down. Without somebody to oversee what is going on, it is essentially self-regulation which is not best practice, which is necessary for the school. Mr. Kim stated that he wants full-funding for the school, but he wants transparency, good management, and proper allocation. He added that he does not want windows replaced in a place where there are no kids, at the expense of not addressing a safety issue in another school building. He stated he didn’t know how to communicate with the Board of Education without the voting right.

Mr. Kim stated that the Board of Education pointed out that only eight people showed up for the discussion about moving the vote to November and only four people were against it. However, he put a petition on-line for the budget to be moved to April, and 200 people signed it. The reply that he got was that it was only 200 people, but he questioned when it was enough. He suggested having a process where everyone can go and vote, as it is the best practice.

Brian Essex, 564 Van Dyke Street, thanked the Village Council for the work that they do and stated that he was present to voice his support to move the Board of Education vote to April. He added that he has seen his taxes go up year after year, but he is all for spending money on our school system. He has a daughter in middle school and one in high school, so he is in full support of better programs and benefits. What he does appreciate, however, is having the ability to vote and having the open conversation and the debate about what is right. Having the position of the residents of Ridgewood heard by the Councilmembers and the Board of Education is important. Mr. Essex stated that he sees no reason at all to keep the vote in November, and he fully supports moving the vote to April.

Bill Fahey, 937 Andover Terrace, stated that he opposed the changes in the meters as it would not do residents any good. He cited the changes, adding that from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., people are coming in to town for various reasons and now they are going to have to pay for these meters, which is wrong. He stated that the current parking meter hours are working and should be left alone. He pointed out that residents pay enough in taxes and that the Village Council should be satisfied with that. Mr. Fahey added that he comes to the downtown a couple of times a month for meetings, and he doesn’t feel like digging into his pocket to pay for a meter and he shouldn’t have to. He asked the Council to vote the ordinance down.

George Williams, 300 Godwin Avenue, stated that valet parking seems to be expanding, and if there are allocated parking spaces for valet parking, he doesn’t understand why people aren’t just told that if they use the allocated parking that they will be charged a special rate for them. This will allow people to drive there themselves, instead of paying somebody for it. He stated that it made no sense to him and was a waste of money and time, as it is a duplication of effort.

Mr. Williams stated that in terms of parking meters, if it is true that meter prices will be raised in order to encourage people not to shop around and choose meters over the parking garage or vice-versa, that suggests to him that there isn’t as much of a need for a parking garage as people seem to think. If in fact, there isn’t as much demand or need for the parking garage, he suggested that the burden be put on people who are from out of town and the businesses that are benefiting most from the parking garage, as opposed to the residents, who are being asked to supplement the parking garage.

Charles Reilly, 448 North Maple Avenue, stated that he wasn’t there to debate the merits of the Village Council’s decision on whether or not to move the Board of Education election from November to April, but stated that it was important that they hear from the entire Village. He added that he thinks making the decision in the middle of the summer would be a mistake and he urged the Council to put it off until the Fall when they could hear from all of the residents. He stated that he understood there was time to consider this later on. Mr. Reilly added that as a general concern, he was on the School Board for eighteen years, and witnessed two budget defeats which had a real effects on the education that was delivered. The school budget, in large part, is mandated, and when there are budget cuts, they come from the regular education budget and what is lost are the kind of services that are provided to the students that are getting a regular education. The public may feel that it is sending a message, but really much of the budget has already been mandated and the harm that occurs due to budget cuts is to the students.

Bob Hutton, 265 Hillcrest Road, stated that he questioned why the Village Council is meddling in the affairs of the Board of Education, asking whether it was because they could or if it was for deeper reasons. The members of the Board of Education are the most dedicated and underappreciated volunteers in our community. They are not vested in the State pension system, and are not paid for their time or talents. Mr. Hutton stated that in 2010, there was a massive voter turnout when Governor Christie was telling people to vote no against the School Board unless the NJEA gave into his demands. There was a massive turnout and the budget lost because the Governor was speaking against every school budget, because he had a vendetta against the NJEA. He pointed out that over twenty or more years, the budget was defeated less than a handful of times. Mr. Hutton stated that having the budget process that does not require the public to vote, levels the playing fields for the Board of Education and all of the other taxing governmental authorities, the Village Council included.

Mr. Hutton questioned why the Board of Education budget is the only one that the public gets to vote on. He stated that the playing field is tilted away from the BOE, which is indicated by the fact that the Village Council, who are also elected officials, just voted on a bond to increase the debt of the Village of Ridgewood. When the BOE wants to increase the debt, they go to a referendum; therefore, the playing field is not level. He added that the Ridgewood Public School district is one of the best run and governed in the State of New Jersey. Year in and year out, those young adults in white gowns and dinner jackets have received a priceless gift and open doors.

Martin Walker, 114 Cottage Place, stated that there was no need for him to repeat a supposition that he has taken on many forums, that this community is one that has to work together for all of its generations in a very fair and equitable way. The origins of American Public Education are in small New England congregational towns which were designed to provide the best services that they could, to the families and the community that existed. The way that public education has evolved has gotten to the point where it does not serve that purpose. Public education in the United States was not designed to create a fast track to be able to add to the ranks of the intelligencia of the United States, it was designed to work on behalf of its community. Mr. Walker stated that he was glad about the comments that the Village Council perhaps had an ulterior motive in shifting the vote to April. There is an ulterior motive, the community has to come together as a whole to make a collective statement as to what education should mean for us as a community. He has three children in the public schools and he wouldn’t want them to go to school any other way.

There were no other comments from the public.

Mayor Hache stated that the entranceway to the garage on Hudson Street and South Broad Street was actually one of the design tweaks that the Village Council had gone back to Epic with, and instead of having a bland, sterile window to have it actually be an entranceway. Mayor Hache also addressed lighting in the park, stating that there was a significant funding gap which the Village tried through the CBDAC recommendation to close that gap, dedicating $70,000 to that effort, however, some donors have pulled out, leaving a small gap in funding.

Mayor Hache added that he appreciated everyone’s comments regarding the timing of the Board of Education election, stating that the discussion this evening is in no way a reflection of the competence, work, and dedication of the BOE. It is a thankless task and the Councilmembers know what it is like to be in the hot seat, adding that they are very appreciative of the work that the Board of Education members perform. As one of the top school systems in the State, the BOE members are held to a very high standard.

  1. COMMENTS FROM THE RIDGEWOOD BOARD OF EDUCATION ON MOVING THE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION FROM NOVEMBER TO APRIL

 

Vince Loncto, President of the Board of Education, Sheila Brogan, Jennie Smith Wilson, and Christina Krauss, Board of Education members, introduced themselves. Mr. Loncto stated that he wished to thank Mayor Hache for his kind remarks. He stated that the position of the Board of Education regarding moving the Board of Education election from November to April, which includes voting on the Board of Education budget, was communicated to the Village Council and the broader community last week, and it has not changed. He added that he had copies of the communication to the Village Council. Mr. Loncto stated that the Board of Education supports engaging the public in this discussion and they believe the discussions should take place in the fall after residents have returned from their vacations and are fully engaged.

Mr. Loncto stated that in order to change the elections, the notice to the County Clerk must be done by January 21, 2019, therefore, there is sufficient opportunity to fully consider this change and to provide adequate time to conduct a deliberative process. He suggested that both the Village Council and the Board of Education meet in the fall, after listening to the public opinion on the topic, to make an informed decision. He stated that the decision should be made after a much broader discussion takes place and not the result of a vote of the Village Council deciding this for the BOE in the middle of July. Mr. Loncto stated that in the absence of that input, and before the deliberative process, the Board of Education is not taking a position on this one way or another. They want to go through the process in the fall, reach a conclusion, and then take a position on it.

Ms. Brogan stated that she wasn’t quite sure of the Village Council agenda tonight, but she asked if the Village Council had any questions. She added that the BOE budget is complex, and as it was stated by Mr. Hutton, there are many mandates that are part of the budget that require funding. Some of their bigger issues in terms of negotiated salaries, special education, and transportation take up a large portion of the budget. She thanked the Village Council for opening this conversation, adding that the moratorium on changing the BOE elections back to April ended on May 31, 2018 and after changing the BOE elections to November, they had to go through four November elections which occurred in November 2017. Ms. Brogan stated that the Board normally does not make major decisions during the summer. They make hiring decisions to get ready for the school year, but something like this election would be a fall discussion with the community. She stated that when Mr. Loncto says that they would like to see this happen in the fall, that goes with their understanding of how our community has many people absent during parts of the summer and they don’t necessarily follow all of the intricacies that happen. The local newspaper coverage isn’t what it used to be, and for those reasons, she thinks that the Board of Education would like to continue this discussion into the fall.

Ms. Krauss thanked Ms. Weber for her comments in reference to her initial vote when they had the vote to move the BOE elections from April to November in 2012, it was a 4-1 vote and Ms. Krauss was the one board member who wanted to retain the vote in April. She stated that at that point in time, up until the past budget discussion, there wasn’t any commentary from the public and during that deliberative process it took them nearly two years to come to that conclusion. She added that the process was out there, the discussion was within the community, and there was no outcry at the time the election was changed from April to November. Ms. Krauss stated that she is concerned with the push, because as a body they tend to want public participation as much as possible. As Ms. Johnson mentioned, they give ample notice about everything that happens in reference to the BOE, and all it takes is an email, phone call, or text message to get a response and anyone is more than welcome to go to their meetings.

Ms. Krauss stated that she feels it is a false sense of urgency to have this change made right now, and to have it done by the Village Council almost feels like a hostile act because it is curious why residents would be coming to the Village Council and they wouldn’t be coming to the BOE meetings with requests to change the BOE election to April, which they are all more than willing to discuss. They would like to have the reconsideration and the move as a community-wide event, with perhaps some meetings at Village Hall and at the Board of Education building. She would like to give September and October as the time for discussions, so that residents have returned to the Village. There has been much discussion at the dais in past Village Councils about things being done under the cover of darkness, passed in the summertime when nobody is around. Ms. Krauss stated that she has heard many Councilmembers rail against that, and she agrees with that when it comes to something that is major. There is no urgency to get the election moved, and the only communication that she has gotten has been to hold off until September.

Ms. Krauss stated that as the member who voted to keep the BOE election in April, she would ask the Village Council to try to reconsider coming to a decision about that because she feels that in the end, this does not reflect well on the Village Council if they decide to do something to usurp the power of the elected members of the Board of Education. The Board of Education members are more than willing to engage with the public and have these discussions, they just don’t want to do it right now. It should be done in September, so everyone can talk about it and a decision can be made at that time.

Mr. Loncto stated that when the opportunity to move the BOE elections was given, the Board of Education went almost two years before they decided to move the election initially, and they decided to do so after observing what was happening across the State. There was no negative impact that they could see. Right now, 97% of the districts in the State have the vote in November. He reiterated that the BOE has not made a decision on this, and they are not advocating to keep the vote in November or move it to April. Instead, they are advocating conducting a thorough analysis, with community involvement, in a deliberative way. He reiterated that the decision does not have to be made until January 2019.

Ms. Wilson stated that she watched the Village Council meeting the previous week, and she was interested by the resolution to move the Board of Education election from November back to April, and thus allow the voters to cast a vote for or against the annual school budget. She added that she was not present to argue in favor of or against the right to vote on the school budget. She stated that she was present to support the position expressed by the Ridgewood BOE in their July 10th letter that “statute allows the Village Council or the Board of Education to make the decision to move the vote to April unilaterally.” Ms. Wilson stated that she believed that decision should be made by the citizens of Ridgewood. She does not think that two meetings in the middle of July constitutes a Village-wide conversation on an issue of such importance. As stated in the letter from the Board of Education, she believes this is an important conversation to have, but it should be conducted in the fall when more people are in town. The ten elected officials in this room tonight, were elected to make decisions on what is best for the community, be that the Village or the schools. They make these decisions after studied and careful deliberation, which are not always popular, but we represent all of the people, not some.

Councilman Sedon questioned how the BOE felt participation had been in the budgeting process and Board of Education elections, having gone through four cycles after switching the vote from April to November. Ms. Brogan stated that her feel is that although the percentages that she has looked at, the gross numbers of voting for BOE positions is larger than what it was when it was in April. The conversations about the budget are interesting, as she has been on the Board for awhile and each year when they held the budget vote in April she sat at budget presentations where no one came, or a few people, or they would present to a Home and School Association meeting with ten to fifteen people. For the most part, the discussions on the budget itself have never been as robust as she would like, although they do provide information, which is complex. Ms. Brogan stated that when they talk one on one with residents and provide an email address, those are always responded to, and many of the questions are about why a certain thing can’t be done, and the answer is State law. She added that the BOE budget is 65% of the property tax which for a high-wealth district where 4.5% to 5% of your budget is State aide, the only recourse is the property tax. Overall, New Jersey has a problem with how public education is funded. NJ relies on the property tax to fund municipal services and education, which she believes is a flawed system.

Mr. Loncto added that in terms of voter turnout, they have been looking at data and have been getting data over a period of time, but the data is changing as there are some discrepancies. He was saying this to point out that time should be taken to go through this process, rather than doing it mid-July with data still coming in on relevant issues. He stated that the whole message he was trying to convey was that there was no reason to do this mid-July as there is plenty of time available to do this with broad participation and with a deliberative process.

Councilwoman Walsh stated that during the middle of the summer there wasn’t much of a population, and that the sentiment that this was trying to be changed on the sly was present. She stated that she wanted to separate the budget from how a resident runs for any elected position, adding that she didn’t think that they should be intertwined. If a resident wishes to run for an elected position, a resident would figure it out. It is the resident’s right and responsibility and it is up to that resident to figure out how to run for public office. She stated that she didn’t want to have the two topics intertwined. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she was on the Village Council when the budget was voted down, and it was an uncomfortable process because the Village Council spends hours and hours on their budget, and they know what goes on with the Board of Education but they don’t know the intricacies of the Board of Education budget. She stated that when the BOE budget came to the Village Council at that time, they weren’t sure what they should do.

Councilwoman Walsh stated that both the municipal and BOE budgets are large budgets, and are significant in the fact that the BOE and Village Council take the time to make the budget and then present it to the public and allow them to make comments on it. She stated that she was an informed voter, so if she has a gripe with a public official, she would contact them and have a conversation. She added that she was in a quandary as to why this is being discussed by the Village Council in the middle of the summer.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen thanked the BOE members for their service. She stated that this came about because Councilman Hache and herself meet with the Board of Education President and Superintendent once a month, almost every month, throughout the year. They have been doing so since September of 2016. This past spring, she had observed that a BOE election was coming up, and that candidates were running unopposed and there was no advertising or information anywhere that there were open seats. Mr. Loncto interrupted at this time and questioned whether unopposed Board of Education elections were on the agenda, as this was a discussion about moving the budget. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that this conversation was about moving the election, adding that she asked at the BOE monthly meeting where the voting information was and how would residents know what seat was up, how many seats, how many signatures were necessary, and where the petitions were obtained. At the time, there was a general disinterest and there was a statement that the County Clerk had taken over the BOE election, with respect to filing of petitions. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that this was different from her notes, but she was told that information was published on this other State website and if anyone was interested they should go there. She added that she had difficulty finding this information.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that she asked in 2017, and again in 2018, if the BOE election information could be made available, but it did not happen. She was concerned in the spirit of making information available to the public in order to engage the public in a dialogue, because her recollection is that when the election was in April, candidate packets were due in February and there was always a League of Women Voters debate and a lot of conversation about what was going on at the Board of Education. She stated that she feels that something is awry in this process and she felt it was important that information became available.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that the discussion about moving the election from November to April actually occurred in April at one of their monthly meetings with the Board of Education. There was a lot of pressure coming from residents asking what was going on and how they could get that vote back. She stated that she went to the meeting with Mr. Loncto and the Superintendent and stated that there was a great interest in having the election go back to April, and requested that the BOE election information be publicized. She was told at the time that they would have that discussion, and the months went by. Residents began to do the research and brought this to the table. She stated that she and Mr. Loncto spoke last week when the Village Council gave adequate notice that this issue was going to be on the agenda, and he indicated that in November of 2013 there was a meeting where the election was changed. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that at that meeting in 2013, there were eight people who weighed in on the discussion at the Board of Education. Of those eight people, two said move it to November, one supported going from April to November, based on the idea that there would be a 2% cap and spending wouldn’t go beyond that, one person at that meeting had no opinion, and four people said don’t do this.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that not only has the Village Council received so many emails saying to move this election back to April, she only has a handful that say hold the conversation until September, October, or November. On social media there was a poll, 151 people to 14 said to move the election. There was a robust discussion regarding this on social media. She stated that people really want to move the election back to April for the election for Board of Trustee seats to make certain that we have the best candidates.

Councilman Voigt stated that he knows how difficult the work of the Board of Education is, adding that he tends to agree with their conclusion that the Village Council should be deliberative in this whole process. He stated that he agrees that having this done during the summertime, when a lot of people are away, is a mistake. He added that he felt they needed more input because this is a very important decision for the Village. Councilman Voigt stated that the BOE members deserve the chance to listen to more people to hear what is going on and what they are thinking about. Relating to the number of people who run for the BOE seats, there has been promotion of this through the League of Women Voters in June, and 8,000 emails were sent out to the community. He stated that he challenged the Deputy Mayor that it has been known.

Councilman Voigt stated that he had an issue with some of the numbers that had been presented. His personal feeling is that there are actually more people who vote in November than in April. He stated that they need the community to participate in voting, and this is a decision that can be made later on, but his personal feeling is that the Village Council election should also take place in November. Councilman Voigt stated that he was fully supportive of the Board of Education members’ opinion that the Village Council should let this be discussed more fully in the fall, and the BOE and Village Council get as much input as they can, before making a decision about moving the BOE election to April.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that there was a moratorium on moving BOE elections from November to April, which expired on May 31, 2018 and right now it is pending and that moratorium could be put back in place at any time. She pointed out that there is a window of opportunity that might no longer exist in a few weeks, let alone in September or October. She stated that if the Village Council doesn’t act or the Board of Education chooses not to act, that window of opportunity might very well close and once again there wouldn’t be a discussion. She added that in her opinion, that would create the worst case scenario. She doesn’t think that it is worth rolling the dice in this instance. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that the League of Women Voters email or flyer about openings on the Board of Education, is not a Board of Education communication. Her request had been to physically advertise the openings on the BOE website, and last week it did go up and was posted on their website. Mr. Loncto pointed out that Deputy Mayor Knudsen mentioned it to him in the morning and it was up on the BOE website in the afternoon.

Ms. Brogan stated that S-2464 was introduced in the Senate in April, put into Committee, and has not moved anywhere. There are two sponsors for that bill, and it reads that “when the date of an annual school election has been moved to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November from the third Tuesday in April for a school district, […] any petition filed or resolution adopted by a Board of Education or a Municipal Government or action taken by a type 2 school district with a Board of School estimates after June 1, 2016 but prior to the tenth day following the date of submission to the legislature the final report of the School District Annual Report Study Commission.” She stated that her point is that commission, referred to in S-2464, has never be impaneled, and there doesn’t appear any movement to do that. Looking at the State website, this commission is listed in the list of committees, and no members are listed except for Mr. John Burns, Esq, who she contacted. Mr. Burns said there is no commission, it is not impaneled and there is no plan to impanel it. Ms. Brogan stated that it is not likely that anything is going to happen now through the fall on this bill. There is a ten month schedule to have a report from 2016 which never happened from this commission. The other piece of legislation is an assembly bill, in its second iteration, A-1517, which was introduced in January and would seek to move a non-partisan municipal election and Board of Education election to November, and is currently in committee.

Mr. Loncto stated that the assembly legislation was initially introduced in 2016 and didn’t move. Ms. Brogan stated that in 2016 the bill sat for two years in the Assembly on a committee and didn’t move forward, and then was reintroduced in the new session. Mr. Loncto added that if they were to decide now in Ridgewood to move the election back to April, and there was a subsequent State law mandating November elections, that would invalidate the decision made before the Village Council. He added that they are not advocating that the election be kept in November, they were just saying that the time should be taken to more fully engage and do a deliberative study. He stated that regarding the uncontested BOE elections, it seemed as though Deputy Mayor Knudsen was implying that there was some obfuscation or attempt to suppress new people from running for a position on the BOE. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that was not the case, rather she requested the information be made available to the general public and made no inference or suggestion otherwise.

Ms. Krauss stated that when she decided that she wanted to run in 2011, she had help from friends and neighbors, but her encouragement was because there were topics that she was interested in and she was very interested in the way that the entire body worked. There was no one who came to her house to suggest that she should run and then hold her hand and tell her what to do every step of the way. She had the interest and gumption to go through this process and figure out for herself what it was all about. Ms. Krauss stated that at this time, information regarding elections and petitions has to be obtained in Hackensack, as opposed to the Board of Education building in Ridgewood. She added that the process was rather straightforward and intuitive, and she reiterated her previous comments regarding waiting for residents to be available to express themselves in the fall regarding moving the election. She added a comment for Deputy Mayor Knudsen that to her, four people expressing their concern does not quantify the majority in terms of her decision- making for something. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that she was saying that when she had this conversation with Mr. Loncto, he suggested that the fall would result in a robust conversation and she asked for the BOE minutes of 2013 when the BOE spoke about moving the election to November, and only eight people were present. She added that she was suggesting that wasn’t a robust conversation with eight people present in 2013. Ms. Krauss reiterated Ms. Brogan’s statements regarding the movement of the bills in the legislature.

Ms. Brogan stated that although people do come to the meetings and talk at the microphone, some feel intimidated by doing that, and reach out in other ways throughout the community. The Board of Education also spends time in the schools and sees parents in that way. She stated that they discussed moving the election over the course of five meetings in the fall of 2013, and it was at a time when there were also multiple newspaper articles about it. At the fifth meeting, the feedback they were getting was to make a decision and to move on, and after careful thought the BOE did change the BOE election to November, knowing that it was a four-year commitment and at that point it could be revisited.

Mayor Hache stated that there were three separate parts to the discussion, one about the context and the legality of the process; another was the debate around the budget; and then one around voter turnout and what would be the difference between November and April elections. Ms. Mailander provided a summary of all the election results for the last ten years for the Board of Education because there were some questions regarding turnout at different times. Mayor Hache stated that the highest percentage voter turnout was 31% in 2010. In 2016 there was a Presidential election and that added more votes. The concern was whether voters vote for the BOE in November which is shown through the analysis of the percentage of voters that vote, and then the percentage that vote the bottom of the ballot. In 2016, there was a 39% turnout who voted the top of the ballot, and 25% voted the bottom. The average turnout in April versus November shows that April BOE election average turnout was 21% where November BOE election average turnout was 16%.

Councilman Voigt stated that he had some issues with the data, adding that there were areas where the numbers were incorrect. He stated that in the 2009 election, Ms. Mailander has 2,789 people coming out to vote and she divides that by the total number of registered voters and comes up with 17%. He stated that was incorrect because there was only one person running who got 1,088 which comes out to 11.5%. Ms. Mailander stated that the individuals coming out to vote may have been voting on the question for the general budget. Councilman Voigt stated that had nothing to do with the voter turnout for the BOE elections. Ms. Mailander stated that it has to do with the total number of votes cast. Councilman Voigt stated that they were talking about the number of votes of people running for the election, adding that he had an issue with that, because these numbers are not reflecting that. He stated the numbers were reflecting two things, but in the future they are only reflecting one thing. He stated that the numbers were not correct. Ms. Mailander stated that the numbers were correct overall. Councilman Voigt stated that the numbers were not correct for the people who were being elected. Ms. Mailander stated that she could re-work the numbers and see if there was a different result.

Councilman Voigt stated that looking at Ms. Mailander’s numbers, the actual numbers for April should be 15.8%, and in November there are 17%. Ms. Krauss stated looking at the gross numbers of votes cast, there is a higher turnout in November than in April. She added that there was data and information that they need to dig into and take a look at, more closely. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that these are the actual number of individuals that cast a vote for a Board of Education election in either April versus November. Mr. Loncto stated that listening to the discussion over the last five minutes underscored for him the thought that the Village Council is proposing making a decision tonight based on data that was provided early this afternoon that has not been synthesized, analyzed, and clearly not understood. He added that there was no reason to make that decision tonight.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that in November 0% of the voters cast a vote for a budget, whereas in April 100% of the people voting have that option. The difference is not 12% versus 11% versus 27%, the difference is 0% compared to 100%. Ms. Krauss stated that what the BOE was saying is that they would like the community to make that decision based on discussions, and not have that particular decision taken away from people who are not here during the summer. She reiterated her previous comments regarding waiting until the fall for conversations regarding moving the election. She stated that the question is whether or not to vote on this tonight, and she would like to continue this discussion when there is a broader base of the community to participate.

Councilwoman Walsh stated that listening to everyone and seeing the tension in the room, the intention of the Village Council is not to operate in silos. She added that they all have the same pool of taxpayer dollars and want to make sure that they are spent in the best way possible. She stated the fact that they are all elected officials and have tremendous respect for each other, goes a long way. She is getting the feeling that there is a wall being put up, that certainly shouldn’t be put up, between elected official or between themselves and taxpayers. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she was in favor of having the broader conversation but she really wants to have the conversation to have more people be involved. Ms. Krauss stated that she completely agrees. Councilwoman Walsh stated that if this could be stalled until the fall, it should be. Mr. Loncto reiterated his opening remarks regarding the Village Council and the Board of Education meeting in the fall.

Councilwoman Walsh stated that the deadline for petitions is July 30th and she was hoping that there are some residents who will decide to run for the BOE so that there isn’t another uncontested election. Councilman Sedon stated that they were talking about how it was the summer and no one is around, but the deadline to run for a BOE seat is July 30th, so if the election is moved to April, the deadline for the petitions will be at a time when everybody is here in the Village and is engaged, so that is a point to consider. Ms. Krauss stated that it was a deadline, but that the petition could be put in any time before that. She stated that there are 600 school districts and 598 of them have school board elections. There are 73 Boards of Education in Bergen County, and most of them have the petition filing deadline of July 30th. Ms. Wilson stated that conversations with individuals who were interested in running started last December, and she added that the School Board Association provides a lot of information on how to run a campaign and what serving on the School Board is all about.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that she wants to be mindful that the people who came out tonight offered a robust conversation and she didn’t want to be dismissive of their comments, or their emails and on-line poll. She stated that the people are making a statement that they want the election moved back to April. Mayor Hache thanked everyone who came out today to speak their mind and be part of the discussion. He thanked the Board of Education members for their time as well.

 

  1. MANAGER’S REPORT

Ms. Mailander stated that she had nothing to report.

  1. COUNCIL REPORTS

Green Team Councilman Sedon stated that Jiffy Vermylen recently announced that she could no longer continue as the Chair of the Green Team because of family obligations. He thanked her for her services on the Green Team as she was the heart and soul of that committee. He added that she moved the Green Team forward to get a Silver Certification through Sustainable Jersey. Councilman Sedon that member Justin Manger stated he would step up and they would make that official in August or September, whenever they have a quorum.

Ridgewood Environmental Advisory Committee Councilman Sedon stated that there is interest by the Parks and Recreation Department to put bike racks downtown. He stated that in an email to Nancy Bigos, he shared some of the two years’ worth of study of different areas that were looked at by REAC, for bike racks. They would discuss providing some of the funding that was raised though Earth Day to pay for some of the bike racks.

Planning Board Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that the Planning Board met last night and she thanked Frances Barto, who has become the Planning Board appointment to the Open Space Committee. There was an application for an unusual subdivision that was previously divided, and then combined by the homeowner two years ago, and now they would like to subdivide it again. This is a complicated application as there is now a lot of variance relief. The Planning Board will convene again in two weeks.

 

Community Relations Advisory Board Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that the CRAB meeting was tonight.

ACCESS Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that ACCESS would be meeting tomorrow evening in Village Hall.

Ridgewood Arts Council Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that the Ridgewood Arts Council met last month at the Garden State Plaza cinema and the Grand Luxe Café for a showing of Bandstand which was amazing. There were 30 to 35 residents that came to the showing. She thanked Audrey Fink and everyone at the Ridgewood Arts Center for putting that event together.

Central Business District Advisory Committee (CBDAC) Mayor Hache stated that the CBDAC met last week and are in the process of inviting all of the CBD landlords to come in and have a mini landlord forum at the next monthly meeting. They would like to discuss several things, among them how they could work together to address the parking situation, as the Village is building the parking garage that employees can also use. He suggested that perhaps they could tie into the leases a couple of parking spaces that come with the property that is being leased. He stated that the other discussion is whether they can find ways to spread around the concentration of restaurants in the downtown, which he feels exacerbates the parking problem.

 

  1. RESOLUTIONS – RIDGEWOOD WATER

 

THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTIONS, NUMBERED 18-212 THROUGH 18-213, WERE ADOPTED BY A CONSENT AGENDA WITH ONE VOTE BY THE VILLAGE COUNCIL, AND WERE READ BY TITLE ONLY:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTION, NUMBERED 18-214, WILL BE CONSIDERED SEPARATELY AND READ IN FULL:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. ORDINANCES
    1. INTRODUCTION - #3653 – Amend Valet Parking Ordinance

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3653. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3653 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 263 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, VALET PARKING SERVICES, AT SECTION 263-4, “OPERATING REQUIREMENTS.”

Councilwoman Walsh moved that ordinance 3653 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3654 – Amend Chapter 105 – Animals – Establish Position of Municipal Humane Law Enforcement Officer

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3654. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3654 by title:

           

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 105 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, ENTITLED “ANIMALS” TO ESTABLISH A NEW SECTION TO CREATE THE POSITION OF MUNICIPAL HUMANE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER (MHLEO).

Deputy Mayor Knudsen moved that ordinance 3654 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3655 – Amends Chapter 244 Smoking

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3655. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3655 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 244 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD ENTITLED “SMOKING” TO AMEND THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS: SECTION 244-1 ENTITLED “DEFINITIONS”; SECTION 244-6 ENTITLED “DEFINTIONS”; SECTION 244-7 ENTITLED “USE OR POSSESSION PROHIBITED”; SECTION 244-10 ENTITLED “DEFINITIONS”; SECTION 244-11 ENTITLED “SMOKING PROHIBITED.”

Councilman Sedon moved that ordinance 3655 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3656 – Amend Chapter 265 – Vehicles and Traffic – No Left Turn – In to and Out of the Driveway at 121 Franklin Avenue (Starbucks)
    2.  

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3656. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3656 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 265 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC, AT SECTION 265-56, SCHEDULE VI “PROHIBITED TURNS AT INTERSECTIONS.”

Councilman Voigt moved that ordinance 3656 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3657 – Amend Chapter 265 – Vehicles and Traffic – No Turn from North Maple Avenue into Exit Driveway of 305 East Ridgewood Avenue (Jersey Mike’s Subs)

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3657. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3657 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 265 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC, AT SECTION 265-56, SCHEDULE VI “PROHIBITED TURNS AT INTERSECTIONS.”

Councilwoman Walsh moved that ordinance 3657 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3658 – Amend Ordinance – Enforcement for Dead/Dangerous Trees

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3658. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3658 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 165 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, GARBAGE, RUBBISH, REFUSE AND RECYCLING, AT SECTION 165-15, “METHOD OF SERVICE OF NOTICE; CONTENTS” AND AT SECTION 165-17, “ENFORCEMENT.”

Councilman Sedon moved that ordinance 3658 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3659 – Amend Outdoor Café Ordinance – Enforcement of Rules and Regulations

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3659. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3659 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 156 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, FOOD AND FOOD HANDLING ESTABLISHMENTS, AT ARTICLE VIII, OUTDOOR CAFES, SECTION 156-92, “ENFORCEMENT.”

Deputy Mayor Knudsen moved that ordinance 3659 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3660 – Amend Chapter 265 – Vehicles and Traffic – Parking Meter Times

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3660. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3660 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 265 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC, AT SECTION 265-29, “PARKING METER ZONE DESIGNATED.”

Councilman Voigt moved that ordinance 3660 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. INTRODUCTION - #3661 – Amend Chapter 145 – Fees – Parking Meter Fees

 

Mayor Hache moved the first reading of ordinance 3661. Councilman Sedon seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3661 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 145 OF THE CODE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, FEES, AT SECTION 145-6, “ENUMERATION OF FEES RELATING TO CODE CHAPTERS.”

Councilwoman Walsh moved that ordinance 3661 be adopted on first reading and that August 8, 2018 be fixed as the date for the hearing thereon. Councilman Sedon seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. PUBLIC HEARING - #3650 – Bond Ordinance – Hudson Street Parking Garage ($12 million)

 

Mayor Hache moved the reading of ordinance 3650 by title on second reading and that the Public Hearing thereon be opened. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3650 by title:

            BOND ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE DESIGN, MANAGEMENT, CONSTRUCTION, FURNISHING AND EQUIPPING OF THE HUDSON STREET PARKING GARAGE IN AND BY THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, IN THE COUNTY OF BERGEN, NEW JERSEY, APPROPRIATING $12,000,000 THEREFOR AND AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF $12,000,000 BONDS OR NOTES OF THE VILLAGE TO FINANCE PART OF THE COST THEREOF.

Mayor Hache announced that the Public Hearing was open.

Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that the newspaper accounts say that the Village has been talking about the garage for years and people are asking why it hasn’t been built. In his opinion, it is too expensive to build, and everyday he gets more concerned that this is going to cost much more than what the Village Council thinks it is going to cost. One of his primary concerns is how it is going to affect him personally, as a taxpayer. He stated that he realized that the Council was planning to pay for this through revenues from the Parking Utility, but he sees problems with that. Mr. Loving stated that the last time that parking rates were increased in the Village, there was an outcry and they were rolled back relatively quickly. He stated that he was pretty confident that this Council has no intention of ever rolling back a parking rate increase while they are in office, but he is concerned about what happens when they leave if there is an outcry among the merchants that the increased parking rates are affecting their business. What would happen if the new Councilmembers rolled back the parking rates a few years down the line. The burden would fall on the backs of residential taxpayers. If parking revenues don’t wind up paying for the parking garage, there will be no other source to pay for it, other than to increase tax rates.

Mr. Loving stated that it disturbed him that the people who seem to be most adamant about the need for a garage, the members of the Chamber of Commerce and members of the Ridgewood Guild, have no skin in the game for the parking garage. Neither of those organizations has ever come and said they are going to have a fundraiser among the members or were going to try to raise money in a different way. It is all falling on the back of the taxpayers and the parkers.

Mr. Loving stated that he believes that the Walker Study also recommends two additional parking meter increases. His concern about parking revenues being able to pay for this is that people may no longer be coming to the Village because parking rates are so high, and again the taxpayers are going to pay for this. The Village Hall was supposed to cost $4.7 million, and ended up costing $11.5 million. He doesn’t think that was an accurate number and it actually cost more than that. He questioned the Village’s ability to bring something in on budget. He stated that tonight, one of the resolutions that the Village Council is voting on is a $45,000 change order for a security system. He believes the $12 million number is going to be driven up, and he wondered how this is going to affect taxpayers. He can no longer deduct his property taxes, and he was concerned that his taxes will increase to support this garage, that the Village Council thinks is going to be paid for in parking revenues.

Bill Fahey, 937 Andover Terrace, stated that this ordinance, to change the time of the meters, is going to do damage to the Village. People will be irritated, especially with increasing the rates. He asked where the Village Council expects people to get the money to pay for the increased rates. Mr. Fahey added that he was very disappointed.

Steve Olsen, 505 Knollwood Road, stated that he understands and appreciates all of the hard work that has been taking place to get the parking garage to this point in the process, but he strongly believes that there needs to be a greater focus on the revenue needed to pay for the parking garage. The additional revenue from the parking garage does not cover the additional operating expenses of the parking garage, significant new revenue sources are needed to protect the taxpayer from paying for the garage. At a cost of $12 million with 25,000 residents, it is a little under $500 per resident for the cost of the garage. He thinks that the Village Council needs to wait to build the garage until they have successfully implemented the required meter rate increase, so that the parking utility pays for the garage, and not the taxpayers. Once debt service is required, the current analysis has the meters increasing to $1.25 per hour. Mr. Olsen stated that it needs to be clear to everyone that the seventy five cents per hour is only very temporary. Increasing the rates today, or soon, to $1.25 per hour would build cash reserves and would allow them to become aware of the opposition to this increased rate, along with any changes of behavior that may be caused by an increase in the parking rate. He asked that the Village Council protect taxpayers by making sure that the parking revenues would pay for 100% of the garage before approving the bond ordinance.

There were no additional comments from the public, and Mayor Hache moved that the Public Hearing be closed. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

Councilwoman Walsh moved that Ordinance 3650 be adopted on second reading and final publication as required by law. Councilman Voigt seconded the motion.

Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that before she voted, she wanted to acknowledge the comments from the residents as she always maintained a position that the revenue stream had to be in place before they bonded and that it had to have been established that it was a reliable revenue stream. What they have done here this evening is started the process to increase the meter rates, and they recognize that the Village meter rates will come in line with other municipalities. She stated that the Village’s were among the lower parking meter rates. Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated that this has been a long process, as they have gone through many design iterations. She believes that they have some reliable information that indicates that if they bring the meters up to those prices, there will be a sufficient revenue stream. This is a very big and challenging decision, but she was going to vote yes with the understanding that the revenue stream will be in place. She added that the Village Council has worked tirelessly to come up with a garage that fits on the lot, is an appropriate scale in relation to the neighborhood, and is respectful of the surrounding neighbors and residents.

Councilman Sedon stated that this started for him in 2014 for the Village Council, but even before that he was around for the conversation on North Walnut Street in 2007 and 2008 until that was voted down. He stated that more people turned up to speak about the Board of Education election than they did for the $12 million parking garage. He stated that he was confident that the revenue stream would be there. He added that a new Walker Report with new variables, such as the addition of kiosks to replace parking meters, is forthcoming. In Hoboken, their experience was an increase in revenues of 20% by changing from meter heads to parking kiosks. He cited some of the assumptions in the previous report by increasing to $1.25 or $1.50 may not even be necessary. They are also looking into parking rate zones to try to move employees out of the spots in front of stores. Councilman Sedon stated that he would be voting yes and was happy to see this moving forward in the Village of Ridgewood.

Mayor Hache stated that this debate has been going on for far too long. The important part here is that ultimately some people have a problem finding parking and others say they are lucky finding a parking spot. What is happening at the end of the day, is that the CBD is being constrained. If they don’t bring more parking supply into the CBD, it will enter into a death spiral. Retailers have a specific model that they use for determining where to place a business. Some major retailers have turned away from Ridgewood, and have gone to other towns that have the same exact demographics as Ridgewood, due to the fact that the parking shortage doesn’t work for them. Mayor Hache stated that for true property tax relief, the CBD businesses need to do better and in turn the assessments on the commercial properties would increase, bring more rateables into the downtown, and keep the budget under control. Parking has been difficult because it has been difficult to find that balance to add more parking, at a reasonable level. The Village Council has worked to be creative on ways to increase parking in the Village. They are looking at differential pricing because the on-street parking spots are a lot more valuable, so they need to find ways to incentivize shoppers and diners to use the lots. He added that they were looking to roll out parking kiosks, stating as Councilman Sedon stated that they saw an increase in revenue of 20%.

Mayor Hache stated that looking at the Central Business District assessments over the last 40 years, the contribution of CBD commercial properties to the overall tax base has been anywhere from 8% to 10%, but it hasn’t changed because there isn’t enough infrastructure to support the types of businesses that they would like to attract to the downtown. Looking at Ridgewood and Morristown in 1985, Morristown had a lot less parking but started to build some parking garages in 1986, and other those years they financed those garages with 1986 dollars. Fast forwarding to now, in 1986 commercial rents were $35 per square foot in both Ridgewood and Morristown. Today in Ridgewood, they are still $35 per square foot, whereas in Morristown they are $67 per square foot. This provides property tax relief to residents. He stated that the Village has some of the highest property tax rates in the country, and some of the lowest parking rates in the State in municipalities that charge for parking. This is spreading the burden out on everyone who comes to the downtown. Mayor Hache stated that he has a lot of communication with the CBD restaurants who say that 78% of their customers come from out of town. He stated that he would support spreading out the burden on those who are paying into the meters and not those who are paying through property taxes.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. PUBLIC HEARING - #3651 – 2018 NJDOT Grant – Hillcrest Road Capital Ordinance

 

Mayor Hache moved the reading of ordinance 3651 by title on second reading and that the Public Hearing thereon be opened. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3651 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, IN THE COUNTY OF BERGEN, NEW JERSEY, APPROPRIATING $215,000.00 FOR THE HILLCREST ROAD STREETSCAPE PROJECT INCLUDING $215,000.00 FROM THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

Mayor Hache announced that the Public Hearing was open. There were no comments from the public, and Mayor Hache moved that the Public Hearing be closed. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

Councilman Voigt moved that ordinance 3651 be adopted on second reading and final publication as required by law. Deputy Mayor Knudsen seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

    1. PUBLIC HEARING - #3652 – 2018 NJDOT Grant – North Pleasant Avenue Capital Ordinance

 

Mayor Hache moved the reading of ordinance 3652 by title on second reading and that the Public Hearing thereon be opened. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

 

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

 

The Village Clerk read ordinance 3652 by title:

            AN ORDINANCE OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD, IN THE COUNTY OF BERGEN, NEW JERSEY, APPROPRIATING $165,627.00 FOR THE NORTH PLEASANT AVENUE STREETSCAPE PROJECT INCLUDING $165,627.00 FROM THE NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

Mayor Hache announced that the Public Hearing was open. There were no comments from the public, and Mayor Hache moved that the Public Hearing be closed. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

Councilman Sedon moved that ordinance 3652 be adopted on second reading and final publication as required by law. Councilwoman Walsh seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote

AYES:             Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Voigt, Walsh, and Mayor Hache

NAYS:            None

ABSENT:        None

ABSTAIN:      None

  1. RESOLUTIONS

 

THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTIONS, NUMBERED 18-215 THROUGH 18-237, WERE ADOPTED BY A CONSENT AGENDA WITH ONE VOTE BY THE VILLAGE COUNCIL, AND WERE READ BY TITLE ONLY:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FOLLOWING RESOLUTIONS, NUMBERED 18-238 THROUGH 18-239, WERE CONSIDERED SEPARATELY AND READ IN FULL:

 

Prior to the vote on Resolution #18-239, Deputy Mayor Knudsen stated she feels that the suggestion that this is hostile or mucking into Board of Education business made her feel bad, however this is coming from the residents and they have truly spoken. She firmly believes that this is the opportunity and that the window may close and she was unwilling to roll the dice. She believes that April is the best time for the BOE election and that there was a robust discussion throughout this meeting, by residents coming forward, though social media, and through email.

Councilman Voigt stated that he felt they owed their colleagues at the Board of Education the opportunity to hear more from the residents and he thinks that the Village Council needs to know more themselves, and they have plenty of time to do this.

Councilwoman Walsh stated that this issue came onto the calendar a week ago, adding that she trusted that their colleagues at the Board of Education would have a robust discussion about this and will include the Village Councilmembers in this discussion.

Mayor Hache agreed that this was an issue that came onto the radar a week ago, but it is something that the expiration of the moratorium was May 31st and it was something he has thought about for some time. It is not about turnout or transparency. He has an enormous amount of respect for the work of the Village Council and the Board of Education, as it is a thankless job sometimes, but it is rewarding. He added that it was not about the Village Council looking to meddle in the business of the Board of Education as they are extremely competent, and the last thing that the Village Council needs is more work to have to sift through a BOE budget if it is defeated. Mayor Hache stated that it isn’t about making people happy, but it is business and about what is right. The deciding factor is to express the difference between the right and privilege to vote and the choice to vote. To him it is about what empowers the voter more. He trusts that the BOE will do their best to stay within the cap and be diligent with the waivers, so his vote was yes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC

 

Richard Engel, 219 Kenilworth Road, stated that he was a third generation resident of Ridgewood. He stated that he agrees with Mayor Hache that the question of numbers of people who vote really isn’t the concern. He added that he thinks it is more of an inconvenience for the Board of Education, which is really their opposition to change the election date. To have a discussion about whether people want to vote or not is silly, but to not have the choice at all, that is taking something away from someone. The choice to vote is then left up to the voters. He stated that he appreciated Councilman Voigt’s and Councilwoman Walsh’s consideration, but the question of giving people the chance to sit home or the option to sit home wasn’t a question to him. He added that he appreciated the vote tonight.

Hyun-Ju Kwak, 291 Highland Avenue, thanked the Village Council for their time to really consider moving the Board of Education election to April. She stated that she had tremendous respect for the Board of Education and all that they do, as not a lot of people would willingly sign up for it. She came to the meeting as a taxpayer to say that she would like the opportunity to educate herself and to give some feedback in a material way through a voting process. Ms. Kwak stated that it wasn’t about running for the BOE, but giving her the opportunity to vote on something that matters to her and impacts her. She stated that Councilman Voigt’s discussion over the numbers shouldn’t matter, as it should come down to whether taxpayers have a voice. She added that she would more than likely vote for the budget as the Board of Education does tremendous work for it, she just would like the right to vote on it. Ms. Kwak thanked the Village Council for doing that today.

Steve Kim, 291 Highland Avenue, stated that you can never go wrong giving people the power to vote and thanked the Village Council.

Susan McBrayer, 28 North Pleasant Avenue, stated that almost everyone on Facebook that she is looking at are saying the same thing and parroting each other. She thinks that the elephant in the room here is that now this huge decision is being made about the BOE election date which is crazy. She stated that most of the residents never heard about this until yesterday. The applause for two Councilmembers should be for all of them, but it reeks of tribalism, just like what is happening in our nation. She has lived here for 26 years, but she can’t believe that this intelligent community is listening to a few people and making a decision in the middle of summer, when everyone is on vacation, about such an important issue. Ms. McBrayer stated that the children that they educate, and the people that are elected to the Board of Education are just as vital as the Councilpeople. She never heard an argument tonight that wasn’t marred by confusion over numbers that merits making this decision tonight instead of waiting until everybody comes back from vacation. She stated that she hopes that the Village Council is aware that there are people in Ridgewood who do not want a divided community. There was a divided community during the election, and it was horrible. She stated that this is the same thing. She doesn’t think this is a decision on what is right or wrong. She is sorry about the vote and appreciates the Village Council for their service.

Charles Reilly, 448 North Maple Avenue, stated that he believes that when residents find out what the Village Council did tonight, there will be quite a reaction. The people who are concerned about the Ridgewood schools and how they function will find out that were not given the opportunity to come here and help the Village Council make the decision that they did tonight. This was a rushed decision and should have been made over months, after listening to many people. Mr. Reilly stated that any vote on the school budget is really not a vote up or down, because if a defeated budget comes before the Village Council, it is out of the hands of the public at that time as to how much the BOE budget should be cut. The Village Council decides what is best for the children of Ridgewood now. The Councilmembers cannot understand the ins and outs of a school budget and they will find that they have done a disservice to the children of Ridgewood.

Saurabh Dani, 390 Bedford Road, thanked the Village Council for the vote that they took regarding the Board of Education elections. He stated that it is a difficult and bold decision to make. He clarified that a lot of residents who wanted the vote to be moved to April don’t oppose money being spent on education. However, there is discretionary spending in the BOE budget and that is where residents want more discussion. Mr. Dani stated that a lot of residents are hoping not to vote the budget down but to have more transparency on why a project was being picked. They are not hoping that the Village Council will have to override the Board of Education budget.

Lauren Riker, 224 South Irving Street, stated that this was an important issue for her as she thinks that she should have the opportunity to vote on the Board of Education budget. She pointed out that saying everyone is away for the summer isn’t true, as she pays over $20,000 in property taxes and can’t afford to take off for the whole summer. She added that she appreciates the Village Council taking the time to listen to everyone’s concerns. She stated that it was giving someone a right to vote and not taking it away from someone else.

Boyd Loving, 342 South Irving Street, stated that with respect to the comments about the Village Council meddling in someone else’s business, he stated that when the Village Manager read the resolution out loud the first sentence she read mentioned the law that allowed the Village Council to do what they did. If the law says that you can do it, you are not meddling in somebody else’s business. He thanked the Village Council for getting involved in their own business.

Laurie Weber, 235 South Irving Street, thanked the Village Council for considering the decision today regarding moving the Board of Education election to April, adding that she appreciated the input from everyone present. As a resident, every piece of information that she has gathered over the past three months on this issue has been read very carefully, and she spoke to every government agency, the statistics on the letter that she sent this afternoon and actually amounts of voters came from the County Board of Elections. Citizens actually do care about this, and there was a team of people that gathered information. She thanked the Village Council for taking this seriously. She has records of everyone that she spoke to in each agency. Residents can do that kind of research. She added that the Village Council was reacting in a timely fashion, when this window clearly has an expiration date, because the moratorium on moving BOE elections to April could be put back in place at any time.

Anne Loving, 342 South Irving Street, appreciated that the decision to move the BOE election to April was difficult. She added that in the somewhat distant past, applause was never allowed at Village Council meetings, but there was applause tonight on both sides of the argument and she appreciated the ability for spontaneous reactions that were not allowed previously.

There were no additional public comments.

  1. RESOLUTION TO GO INTO CLOSED SESSION
  2.  

Ms. Mailander read Resolution #18-240 to go into Closed Session as follows:

  1. ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before the Village Council, on a motion by Councilman Sedon, seconded by Mayor Hache, and carried unanimously by voice vote, the Village Council’s Regular Public Meeting was adjourned at 10:50 P.M.

______________________________

                                                                                             Ramon M. Hache, Sr.                        

Mayor                        

______________________________

              Heather A. Mailander

     Village Manager/Village Clerk

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