Borough of Brielle, NJ
| September 18, 2008
September 18, 2008
MINUTES SEPTEMBER 8th, 2008 WORK SESSION START: 7:30 P.M.
PRESENT: MAYOR NICOL, COUN. BOLGER, GARRUZZO, GORHAM, NOLAN, SCOTT & SHAAK. ATTORNEY MONTENEGRO & ADMINISTRATOR NOLAN.
Mayor Nicol convened the work session in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act and recognized the Administrator who advised that he was in receipt of a communication from Ms. Sophia Ganguzza who had hoped to attend the meeting this evening, but was unable to due to a prior commitment.
Ms. Ganguzza was concerned about teen suicide and the pressures on teenagers such as drinking, drugs, relationships and family problems. She wanted teenagers to be aware of the 2nd Floor Youth Helpline that helps them address these problems.
To assist the Helpline, Ms. Ganguzza was running a fundraiser at Sunsets in Neptune on Sunday, October 12th and she urged all residents to attend to support this cause.
The Administrator also requested Council to schedule a Special Meeting for Tuesday, September 30th to permit the award of the 2008 Road Improvement Project. The bid process had been delayed due to issues with the sidewalk portion of the program. That work would have to be deferred to the Spring of 2009. The Engineer hopes to bid the street improvement portion by mid-September, but it is uncertain if we will be ready by the next meeting on September 22nd. The September 30th date should provide a sufficient window to comply with the requirements of the Local Public Contracts Law.
Coun. Bolger asked the Administrator to enumerate the streets included in the program, but he did not have the list available; he did cite the replacement of the water main on Brown Street, and added that he had the list in his office and could make it available to the public upon request.
Coun. Scott cited her personal relationship with Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Schenke and advised the Council that, if they were unable to attend the event and wished to make a donation, she would be pleased to act as liaison.
Jennifer McGuire, 642 Susan Lane, asked for more detail on the project and Coun. Scott proceeded to read the Ms. Ganguzza's letter into the record.
Board of Education President Ted Vitale was recognized and he asked if a copy of the letter could be provided to the School Business Administrator Ed McManus? The Clerk advised that it would be done.
Hi my name is Sophia Ganguzza and I’m going into my sophomore year at Manasquan High School. This past school year, the students at Manasquan HS was faced with a tragic situation. Three students died and at least one was a suicide.
I knew that high school students had to deal with pressures like drinking, drugs, parties, relationship and family problems, but I never thought I would personally experience suicide. It is really difficult to understand why it happened, but it did and since teen suicide has become an epidemic and now has touched my life, I felt like I wanted to do something to help.
So, I remembered a hotline my mom used to volunteer for called the 2ND FLOOR® Youth Helpline. I’m not sure if you are familiar with it, but it is an anonymous hotline for teens to call about anything on their minds. 2NDFLOOR is not a suicide hotline or a hotline for one specific problem. Teens can call about bullying, problems at home, relationships, school or anything else. If the hotline worker thinks that a caller is in danger of hurting himself or another person they will contact the police. This helpline, which received just 2,400 calls a year when it started, now receives over 6,000 calls a month from teens in Monmouth, Mercer and Union Counties and will launch their services statewide on September 1st. This means that teens all over the state will now be able to call the 2ND FLOOR Helpline 24 hours and day 7 days a week. I hope that if kids in this area and all over the state know the helpline number and use it, more lives won’t have to be lost.
So, at the end of the school year, I decided to plan a fundraiser to raise money and awareness for the 2NDFLOOR… and today I’m proud to be here and present you with the details.
The 1st official 2NDFLOOR fundraiser…“Hold On” A Benefit to Connect Kids will be held on Sunday Oct 12th from 2-6 PM at Sunsets, on the Shark River in Neptune. There will be a lot of food, music, dancing, and a cash bar, but most importantly, there will be people speaking about the tragedies that occurred at Manasquan HS and how the 2ND FLOOR is a helpline for kids who need to talk about what’s on their minds. I am asking Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Schenke to possibly speak during the fundraiser.
Sunsets has been so kind and has donated the venue, their DJ is donating his services and TJ the DJ from Z-100 in NY has offered to emcee. I plan to sell tee shirts and hats, rubber bracelets and jump drives, give out pencils and pens and other items that have the 2ND FLOOR number on them.
So how can you help me to make this fundraiser a success for kids in Monmouth County and especially this area? I am looking for sponsors to underwrite the cost of food so 100% of all the money from ticket sales can go to 2ND FLOOR. I need everyone to spread the word so we sell as many tickets as the venue can hold; about 400, and any newspaper coverage or media attention you can get will only help us to fill the room on October 12th.
I plan to make this an annual event and want this party to be so successful and memorable that people come next year and the year after that. I am open to all suggestions, offers and donations. Please don’t let me down.
There being no further comments the work session was adjourned at 7:42 p.m. on a motion by Coun. Garruzzo, seconded by Coun. Nolan.
MINUTES SEPT 8th, 2008 START: 7:43:P.M.
PRESENT: MAYOR NICOL, COUN. BOLGER, GARRUZZO, GORHAM, NOLAN, SCOTT & SHAAK. ATTORNEY MONTENEGRO & ADMINISTRATOR NOLAN.
Following a moment of silent prayer, a salute to the flag and a roll call, the Minutes of the August 25th, 2008 meeting were approved on a motion by Coun. Garruzzo seconded by Coun. Nolan; all aye; no nays. Passed. (Note: Coun. Shaak abstained.) Coun. Scott requested that the minutes be amended to reflect the fact that, while she had voted to introduce the Sign Ordinance to permit a public hearing, her vote did not indicate approval of the proposed ordinance.
Coun. Garruzzo, seconded by Coun. Shaak, introduced Resolution 08-81 for Passage of the Consent Agenda.
A. To authorize the renewal of the Animal Control Contract with Associated Humane
Societies for calendar 2009 at an annual cost of $11,500.00.
Vote: Coun. Bolger, Garruzzo, Gorham, Nolan, Scott & Shaak; all aye. No nays. Passed.
Coun. Gorham, seconded by Coun. Shaak, introduced Resolution 08-82 for Payment of Bills. Be It Resolved, that the following bills be paid, and that the Mayor or President of Council be authorized to draw orders on the Chief Finance Officer for payment of the bills of September 8th, 2008, as reviewed by the Finance Committee and as listed on the Resolution and the Computer Bill List amended thereto. Vote: Coun. Bolger, Garruzzo, Gorham, Nolan, Scott & Shaak; all aye. No nays. Passed.
Mayor Nicol then announced that the time had arrived for a hearing and further consideration of "An Ordinance to amend Chapter 21 of the Code of the Borough of Brielle entitled "Zoning".
The hearing was opened on a motion by Coun. Garruzzo, seconded by Coun. Nolan.
Coun. Garruzzo was recognized and he offered that the issue at hand is about the aesthetics of the community and he agreed that the quantity of signs that appeared during a recent election were an eyesore. However, he felt that this was the first time this had occurred and that, to the best of his recollection, signs were used to endorse candidates and not issues. There was a need to be discreet in placing political signs, but he was reluctant to endorse Page 120
removing the signs of any candidate running for office whether it was local, county, state or federal. County and state rights-of-way had been used by candidates all over the state and Coun. Garruzzo believed that people should have the right to voice their opinion. He said that freedom of speech was an issue that should not come at the expense of the appearance of the Borough.
Coun. Garruzzo also had a concern over the fact that the ordinance banned political signs, but not "all" signs; he felt that required further investigation. He felt that the ordinance should be amended and he added that he did not believe that the Borough could control county and state rights-of-way.
He praised the current ordinance for establishing a timeframe for the placement of signs, but he thought there should be some distance established between signs and that all signs should be addressed. If these conditions were met then people would be able to campaign and voice their opinions without it being a detriment to the community.
In closing, Coun. Garruzzo offered his thanks to the committee for the work they did on the ordinance, but he hoped that they would further review it and come up with a solution to his concerns.
Coun. Scott offered that her views were well known on excessive, unnecessary signs. She noted that it was not until her tenth election campaign that she used political signs, but she was uncomfortable in taking a stance when there had not been a definitive court decision on the issue and she was not prepared to vote for the ordinance in its current form.
Coun. Nolan asked if the Borough Attorney had any advise for the Council?
Mr. Montenegro stated that his research led him to believe that the ordinance in its current configuration was constitutionally void as the prohibition of political signs appeared to violate federal and state case law as it relates to signs being content neutral. However, if the ordinance eliminated all signs i.e. Boy Scouts, civic groups, real estate signs etc. then it would be constitutionally valid.
Regarding the right-of-way issue, he believed that the state and county rights-of-way were outside the Borough's jurisdiction, but within the jurisdiction of those entities. He added that the courts did not appear to accept the issue of "aesthetics" as a justification to regulate political signs.
Coun. Nolan said that he had reached out to both the state and the county to pose the question as to whether the Borough could regulate signs on their rights-of-way, or they did; he failed to get an answer and received what he termed a "run-around".
He suggested that the ordinance be amended to restrict the prohibition to municipal right-of-
way and include "all" signs.
Coun. Bolger reminded the Council that the genesis of the ordinance was the significant public out-cries over the inadequacy of the current ordinance and his committee's attempt to address those concerns.
With deference to Coun. Garruzzo's statement he noted that the committee had discussed many of his areas of concern. The fact was that the current ordinance was "unconstitutional" and it has time restrictions for the placement of signs, regulates size and requires a permit. These restrictions were at the heart of the recent Hawthorn vs. ACLU case. The committee had attempted to address the Borough's vulnerability.
While the proposed ordinance regulates the placement of signs on the public right-of-way, it eliminates fees, time limits and size restrictions; the public is free to express their opinion at any time, but on their own "private" property.
Coun. Bolger noted that if Hawthorn had the proposed ordinance in place there would not have been a challenge. That case was based on an individual having two political signs on private property and not removing them within the allowable timeframe. This had resulted in a daily fine of $1,000 for a cumulative $14,000 in fines.
Coun. Bolger noted that signs in the right-of-way were a hazard, they were dangerous and unsightly. While the ordinance prohibited signs on Borough property and public right-of-way, residents all along Riverview Drive could place signs on their property as long as they were ten feet back from the edge of pavement. The proposed ordinance addressed the constitutional issues, preserved the rights of the public and reflected the wishes of the majority of the residents.
Referring to articles in the Asbury Park Press and the Coast Star regarding the first draft of the ordinance, Coun. Bolger cited concerns voiced by both a Constitutional lawyer and the ACLU, but added that those concerns had been addressed by the committee in the revised ordinance. The press had no problem with the ordinance as long as it did not limit the prohibition to political signs, but extended it to all signs. Coun. Bolger stated that he was willing to make that amendment.
Coun. Shaak voiced a concern over the fact the public rights-of-way varied throughout the Borough and he felt that this would place an unfair burden on the Code Enforcement Officer who would be charged with enforcing the ordinance; he felt he would need a property survey of every residence. Coun. Shaak recommended the ordinance be "tweaked".
Coun. Bolger reminded those assembled that the alternative to the constitutional issues was to have no ordinance at all and that would permit unlimited signs of any type including a cardboard sign drawn with a magic marker that would become an ugly blur in the rain. Coun. Bolger called the sign issue a "real problem" that had to be addressed. The proposed ordinance was workable and the least challengeable alternative.
Coun. Gorham concurred with the issue on enforceability and he was not ready to support the ordinance, but he wanted to hear from the public.
The Chair recognized Dave Dupre, 1016 Riverview Drive, who felt that the issue arose during the primary election when a plethora of signs had appeared overnight, but he believed that this was a "one time" event. Mr. Dupre believed in freedom of speech on personal property, but he had a concern over signs on the right-of-way.
Turning to the constitutional question he cited numerous trips to Washington D.C. where national monuments such as the Capital and Lincoln Memorial were kept free of signs. If federal law permitted such exclusion why was it a problem in Brielle?
Mr. Dupre believed that the public wanted to work with the Council on this issue to correct past mistakes. He did not believe that you needed five signs with the same message at one location and he voiced a particular concern over the 9/11 Memorial.
Jennifer McGuire, 642 Susan Lane, voiced her opinion that, if the ordinance did not pass, the old one would remain in place. She had been a resident since 1967 and felt that people had always been respectful in placing signs and they had always used the rights-of-way that she noted were not "in the beautiful parts of town". She also felt that the proposed ordinance reflected a personal agenda and was not representative of the Council as a whole.
Mr. Carl Zimmerman of Edison advised the Council of his "one man" assault on political signs in his community and his success in enforcing restrictions; he lauded the Council for their efforts to control the proliferation of signs and also praised the condition of Brielle's Borough Hall as compared to Edison.
Mr. Zimmerman believed that all signs in the public right-of-way were illegal.
John Lorenzo, 927 Woodview Road, asked what the rush was to pass this ordinance? He suggested waiting until Brielle could see how other municipalities handled the issue. He believed that the ordinance resulted from the recent School Board Election that he termed “a one time event”. He suggested that the Council further review the issue and noted that they did not have to be first.
Raymond Shea, 606 Oakcrest Drive, while recognizing the issue of clutter or aesthetics, reminding everyone that they would do well to remember that there are countries where individuals cannot engage in free speech or display patriotism; he added that we should be mindful of those men and women who fought and died for our rights.
Mayor Nicol interjected that he had recently read an editorial in the Asbury Park Press that endorsed the idea of "no signs" calling them a hazard and unsightly, but, he added, in 1992, when the Code Enforcement Official issued a summons to the Asbury Park Press for placing one of their "blue tubes" in the municipal right-of-way, they sued the Borough on Page 123
the issue of freedom of speech and they prevailed. He added that the tubes are nothing more than an advertising sign for the Press.
Mayor Nicol did not believe that there had been a major outcry from the public over political signs and then he read a letter from Mary Lou Bolger, 2 Water's Edge, into the record.
Two Water's Edge
Brielle, NJ 08730
August 28, 2008
Brielle Mayor and Council
601 Union Lane Brielle, NJ 08730
Dear Brielle Mayor and Council:
Three years ago, when my husband Rick first decided to run for Council in Brielle, I called Brielle Borough Hall and asked if I could put up a political sign on our private property explaining that there were already competing gubernatorial election signs (Corzine Vs, Forrester) on opposing properties on Riverview Drive. I was told that I could. I made a tasteful banner advocating Rick's candidacy and hung it across the second floor balcony of our home.
Later that week while filling up my water bottle at the Atlantic Club, I heard Mayor Thomas Nicol whine to then Freeholder Director Thomas Powers of my banner. The very next day, the code enforcement officer appeared at our door and instructed me to remove my banner or receive a summons. He also handed me a blown-up copy of the borough's political sign ordinance with his business card attached. I promptly removed my banner and was told that the two other Brielle homeowners on Riverview Drive had removed their signs too. We all complied and never sued the town or Mayor Nicol for denying us our freedom of speech. Mayor Nicol had no fear of a lawsuit when he acted on my banner three years ago. Why should he fear being sued today?
Very truly yours,
Fred Fastiggi, 648 Valley Road, believed that the matter was a simple quality of life issue, the Borough was better off without the signs.
Mr. Fastiggi also believed that the hearing was a political maneuver. He felt that none of the objections to the ordinance had been based on objective reasoning and he termed it "political posturing".
Mayor Nicol disagreed and stated that he was interested in first amendment rights not politics.
Coun. Bolger informed the public that proffering the ordinance was not a personal move on his part nor connected to the proliferation of signs back in May. In point of fact, if the ordinance is passed this evening those signs could be up tomorrow. The ordinance, he said, does not address a personal issue and had not been offered by the committee for his advantage, rather the ordinance was intended to preserve the quality of life for the residents of the Borough.
The hearing was adjourned on a motion by Coun. Scott, seconded by Coun. Garruzzo.
Coun. Shaak, seconded by Coun. Scott, introduced Resolution 08-83 for passage on second and final reading. Vote: Coun. Bolger; aye. Coun. Garruzzo, Gorham, Nolan, Scott & Shaak; nay. Ordinance did not pass. No further publication required.
Mayor Nicol then called for committee reports and recognized Coun. Scott who reminded the public that Clean-up week would begin on October 6th and that leaf collection would also commence in October.
Turning to Brielle Day, Coun. Scott observed that no one knew what to expect and the threat of bad weather had dampened some of the excitement, but she praised the Mayor for adhering to the "rain or shine" policy.
While the weather had not been optimum, the organizations had done well. The Church in Brielle sold all their baked goods, the Fire Company sold all their roast beef sandwiches, the Boy Scouts their fruit cups and the Historical Society sold 60 cases of soda, leaving 15, she interjected, for future sale.
Since the Woman's Club Craft Fair was off by 75%, the Club had opted not to erect the Tea
Garden, featuring cookies and lemonade, but rather to distribute their product free.
The Fire Truck rides went on as usual despite the rain and reduced attendance, but the reduction in outside visitors made it clear that Brielle Day was really supported by the residents who continued to participate despite the rain and a "good time was had by all".
Coun. Nolan cited 170 entries in the Flag Football Program and advised that the Soap Box Derby would be held at 10:00 a.m. on September 28th. On October 12th, in conjunction with Flag Football, the Board of Recreation would hold a "Chili Taste-Off". The basketball and tennis courts would be closed within a week to permit their rehabilitation.
Coun. Nolan informed the public that the Librarian, Kerri DiBrienza, had resigned, but the Trustees were in receipt of fifteen resumes and there would be no impact on library services.
In closing, Coun. Nolan thanked all the Brielle Day participants.
Coun. Garruzzo cited the August Police statistics noting 24 arrests, 29 investigations, 24 First Aid calls, and 17 Alarm Activation responses.
Coun. Garruzzo also cited the success of Brielle Day and added that his father had won the Fire Company's 50/50, but had not shared the proceeds with him.
Coun. Shaak advised that the Route 70 Bridge Project was complete and he praised George Harms Construction for bringing the job in 2 ½ years ahead of schedule.
Turning to the Route 35 Bridge, Coun. Shaak said that lane changes would be initiated in two weeks as the four lanes would be relocated to the center of the bridge for the next six months; he anticipated that project’s completion by next summer.
Coun. Shaak also urged all interested parties to attend the September 9th Planning Board meeting as the erection of a cell tower on the Alpha Omega property was still being considered.
In closing he, too, praised Mayor Nicol's decision to go forward with Brielle Day. He was glad the event had been held as scheduled and called it a "Fun Day".
Coun. Bolger referenced the sign ordinance and pointed out that his committee, Coun. Nolan & Shaak, had worked to develop the ordinance and unanimously presented it to the Council. Coun. Bolger stated that he was extremely disappointed in the Council and his colleagues.
Mayor Nicol then advised that he had help with the weather via former Coun. Boyd Miller who now resided in Wilmington, North Carolina and who kept him posted on the storm’s progress; he added that Mr. Miller had American Indian blood and had performed a reverse rain dance to keep the storm at bay until late afternoon; he also recognized former Coun. Stewart Hausmann who was in attendance.
Coun. Nolan was recognized and stated that the committee's endorsement had not been unanimous, but Coun. Bolger disagreed.
Coun. Scott noted that she had been remiss in not thanking the Department of Public Works
for an outstanding job on Brielle Day.
The meeting was opened to the public and Patricia Anderson of the Brielle Woman's Club was recognized. Ms. Anderson cited 30 plus years of excellent weather on Brielle Day, but added that of 180 registered crafters only 74 attended; she asked if the Brielle Day Committee ever considered a rain date?
Mayor Nicol offered that while the idea had been discussed the consensus had been that the fall Season saw numerous local craft shows and community events that would compete with a rain date and both the patrons and the volunteers planned on a particular date; it might be difficult to reassemble them for a rain date.
Turning to Curtis House, Ms. Anderson noted that her group, which was celebrating their 40th Anniversary, had been long-term users of the site. Ms. Anderson praised the current cleaning service, although it was not as good as the Borough Crew, and cited the fine job they did in preparation for the August Card Party.
However, the wooden floor in the dinning room was in poor condition and the uneven boards could pose a hazard and result in injury. DPW Superintendent Burkhardt was aware of the situation and had suggested a replacement floor. While the Woman's Club had recently purchased new drapes for the Curtis House, the numerous local charities they supported taxed their resources and they could not fund the replacement floor. Therefore they were requesting that the Borough undertake the work. Ms. Anderson added that the interior of the building was also in need of painting.
Mayor Nicol referred the request to Coun. Scott's Committee, but added that there were no funds available in the 2008 budget and there could be further fiscal restraints in 2009.
C. Stewart Hausmann was recognized and he spoke on behalf of the Riverview Seniors who use the Curtis House almost everyday. He supported the request and added that the floor was in deplorable condition.
Mr. Hausmann also thanked the DPW and noted that despite the inclement Brielle Day weather, the Curtis House was spotless when the seniors arrived at 8:45 a.m. on Monday morning.
Janice Wurfel, 506 Green Avenue, took exception to the comment and pointed out that it was
Candace Moore of the Historical Society who was responsible for the condition of the Curtis House having worked alone on Saturday evening and all day Sunday.
Raymond Shea, 606 Oakcrest Road, informed the Council that Ms. Moore was the 2nd Vice-President of the Historical Society and she set-up and cleaned-up and she brought her own mop.
Ted Vitale, President of the Board of Education, advised the Council that, in response to the events of May 2008, the Board had established six committees who were each asked to establish goals for the school year. Their goals were then brought to the Board for review and that number reduced to seven goals.
The goals were as follows:
1. To implement a new literacy certification program for Grades K through 5 and to expand that program into the future.
2. To increase the utilization of technology a demonstration of which will be given on September 18th during "Back to School Night" (Council was invited to attend).
3. To implement an expanded pre-school program and to teach disabled children
along with non-disabled as per a state directive to become a requirement in 2009.
4. To implement a capital improvement program to address the need for new
windows, bathroom replacement and the east side parking lot.
5. To implement a professional development program to further train teachers.
6. To review and revise all policies.
7. To attend forums with the other sending districts to discuss consolidation of services and special education programs.
Mr. Vitale added that these goals were consistent with those contained in the Strategic Plan Objectives formulated several years ago. Mr. Vitale believed that the Board was working toward what the parents want to see accomplished.
Ms. Anderson was recognized and she added that the Woman's Club had initiated a program whereby their Education Committee members would be working at the school with the children and the teachers.
There being no further comment the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m. on a motion by Coun. Shaak, seconded by Coun. Garruzzo.
Approved: September 22nd, 2008 __________________________
Thomas F. Nolan