M I N U T E S
January 27, 1998
A Regular Meeting of the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights was held on January 27, 1998 at 8:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 248 Hamilton Avenue, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Mayor Torre stated that the meeting complied
with the Sunshine Law, due notice having been made to all members of the Council by
personal service on January 1, 1998 and transmitted to The Observer, The Record and the
Herald News by mail on January 2, 1998.
ROLL CALL: Present: Mayor William J. Torre, Councilman Andrew Link III, Councilman Herbert D. Heeren, Councilman Justin A. DiPisa, Councilman Garrett R. Pepe, Councilwoman Marlene Verrastro, Councilman John Wassberg
Please note: Councilman DiPisa arrived for the meeting at 8:45 p.m.
SALUTE TO FLAG: Mayor Torre led in the Salute to the Flag.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: None
MISCELLANEOUS FROM PUBLIC:
Mayor Torre said there were residents at the last meeting who had concerns of a community home (group home) being at 21 Garrison Ave. The Governing Body also had some concerns. At that time, this Body agreed to contact the organization which purchased the home and the state agency in charge of licensing to attend this meeting and answer questions from the residents and Governing Body. Representation from those two divisions are here this evening.
Mayor Torre opened the meeting to the public for anyone wishing to speak. He asked that the representative from the Dept. of Human Services, Division of Developmentally Disabled and Devereux, owner of premises, first be given the opportunity to explain what exactly has been licensed, the parties involved and who will be living there.
Linda Gately of the Regional Assistant Director's Office for the Northern Region of the Division of Developmental Disabilities came forward. She is the Acting Director of Development and Placement and is responsible for coordinating new group home developments.
Richard Doolan, Director of Program Development of Devereux, came forward and said the home will be for developmentally disabled middle aged women, from 35 to 55. There are presently three women with mild developmentally disabilities who will live in the home. There will be a fourth woman who has not been chosen yet. The idea of the home is for these individuals to become part of the community. They will be assisted by staff to maintain the home and will attend a vocational program in Hackensack during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. There will be staff present 24 hours a day. There will be a minivan parked on the premises to transport these women to the day program. There is a wake staff, whereas the night staff will be awake and work on prescribed responsibilities. All of these individuals are from Bergen County and the site was chosen because its proximity is close to their families and parks for exercise. Mayor Torre asked for an agreement that there not be any more than four women. Ms. Gately said that according to their licensing standards, there would not be more than four women residing due to the number of bedrooms. Mr. Doolan said it is their intent that this home be a permanent residence for these women. There are no plans to change the makeup of the home or put in any other type of individuals, only those that are developmentally disabled.
Maureen Walsh of Devereux came forward and said that she recognizes the concerns of residents that possibly in the future they could switch to DYFS children, Div. of Youth and Family Services, and have conduct disordered children. She said they are coming here in good faith with the agreement that the facility will only be for four developmentally disabled individuals. Mayor Torre said he would like some type of agreement in writing of what Ms. Walsh just stated.
Councilwoman Verrastro asked if the women would be coming from institutions or private homes. Ms. Gately said that the three women are coming from a facility but they lived in private homes prior to going to the facility. They were brought to the facility because their parents were old and could no longer take care of them.
Mr. Doolan said that when there are four women living in the home, there will be two staff members from 3 to 11:00 and one from 11 to 9. No one will be at the house in the day, except on Saturday and Sunday. He said the residential staff have to have at least 60 credits towards their college degree. Most have their bachelor's degree and some have a master's degree.
Councilman DiPisa asked what the criteria is for choosing a particular location for the home. Mr. Doolan said the home must meet certain standards by the state. It must be in good shape and affordable. They choose a home close enough that they can walk to town if they reach that level of independence. Councilman DiPisa questioned why they did not choose a home in Hackensack which would be close to the day program they attend. Mr. Doolan said they don't want to cluster too many group homes in a municipality and Hackensack already has a number of group homes, therefore they were advised not to look into choosing a home there.
Councilman DiPisa asked if there would be any physical changes to the house, such as making it handicapped accessible, because the home has many steps. Mr. Doolan said all of the women are ambulatory and have no difficulties with steps, therefore there would be no need for those types of changes at this time.
Mr. Doolan said they are a nonprofit organization and do make an in lieu of tax contribution.
Lewis Cole, 28 Garrison Ave., came forward and said that many children are in the area and brought up concerns if the type of disabled individuals living in the home changed. Ms. Gately said Devereux has agreed to provide services for four individuals for the next 20 years.
Nancy May, formerly of 46 Garrison Ave., came forward and asked if these women eventually move on to a less supervised setting because there were concerns of persons moving in and out often. Ms. Gately said yes, if they become independent enough. Ms. May asked how is the home monitored by the State. Ms. Gately said an inspection is done prior to the individuals moving in to ensure the home is up to code. After this, it is licensed once a year with an inspection being done each time. During this inspection, records on the facility which are supposed to be maintained throughout the year are reviewed. On a minimum of a quarterly basis, case managers also visit the home to ensure the women are being cared for properly. Ms. May asked the definition of developmentally disabled. Ms. Gately said it is a significant deficit in function that occurs before the age of 22. It can be mental retardation, cerebral palsy and autism, to name a few. Ms. May mentioned the matter of the property values of homes nextto a group home decreasing. Ms. Walsh said she has never witnessed property values going down because the property is located next to a group home. Ms. Walsh said Devereux is an 85 year old organization and prides itself on the way it takes care of both the internal and external part of the houses. She said they will keep up with the maintenance of the home, such as keeping the grass cut.
Margaret Heeren, 25 Garrison Ave., came forward and asked what the regulations were for sleeping quarters. Ms. Gamely said the regulations for a single room is that each individual must have 70 square feet of space and for a double occupancy room, 130 square feet is required.
Robert Ferraro, 35 Garrison Ave., came forward and expressed concern that since this house is owned by Devereux who also deals with children with behavioral problems, and if the women proposed to live there had left, these types of children or individuals with more emotional problems could live there. Ms. Gamely said if one of the women were to leave, they would be replaced with an individual who fits the same category and has similar disabilities. The house will always service developmentally disabled adults. Mr. Ferraro questioned why Devereux did not approach the Governing Body or neighbors of what will be taking place at the home to alleviate their concerns. Ms. Walsh said that in the past before the Fair Housing Act, they would have to go before zoning boards and get permission to go into a neighborhood. This is now not the case and they have been highly persuaded by legal counsel not to approach anyone prior to moving in, otherwise they could be held liable for breaking their clients' confidentiality and their rights. She mentioned that these individuals would be more afraid of the children in the Borough than the children would be of them.
Lynn Minervini, Garrison Ave., came forward and asked if the staff working at the home are finger printed. Ms. Walsh said yes, they are and their background is checked by the police department.
Vinnie Risalvato, 451 Madison Ave., came forward and asked what the average anticipated stay of a client is. Ms. Walsh said it is how ever long they need the services. It could be for the rest of their life or two to three years if they progress and need another type of setting. There would not be any type of revolving door effect. He asked if the same employees would be working there so that there was not a revolving door effect of employees. Ms. Walsh said each staff is assigned to a particular home. There would only be a change in staff when a staff member has a day off.
Tom Gibney, 122 Hasbrouck Ave., came forward and asked how much money is given by the State for this home. Ms. Gamely said the statewide average for purchasing a home is $50,000 per individual, closer to $60,000 in Bergen County.
Mr. Cole came forward and asked what the age level of the clients is mentally. Mr. Doolan felt it would be a breach of confidentiality if he were to answer the question. He questioned Devereux's liability insurance. Ms. Walsh said they have property and liability insurance and any other insurance required by the State.
There being no one else wishing to speak on this matter, Mayor Torre thanked those present for their presentations and comments and closed the meeting to the public.
BE IT RESOLVED that the claims and accounts amounting to $103,198.55 specified in the schedule hereto annexed, having been examined and approved by the Finance Commissioner, or his Deputy, be paid and that warrants be issued therefor.
Signed Andrew Link III/Commissioner of Finance
On motion by Councilman Wassberg, seconded by Councilman DiPisa, and unanimously carried, the foregoing Resolution was adopted.
FINANCE & LAND USE:
Under Finance, Councilman Link reported that the cash balance as of December 31st was $1,467,000 which was invested, earning approximately 5.5% in interest. The results of operation for 1997 showed an excess of revenues over expenditures in the amount of $399,000 which resulted in the surplus balance at year end of $776,000, a decrease of approximately $450,000 compared to the balance at the end of December, 1996. The total tax levy for 1997 was $21,499,000 of which $20,957,000 was collected, representing a collection rate of 97.47%. The 1998 budget is presently being worked on with its introduction being by February 10th. The annual financial statement has been completed and submitted to DLGS. The debt statement reflected a net debt of .57% of equalized base which is under the maximum debt allowed of 3.5%. There was no report under Land Use.
Councilman Heeren reported that during the month of December there were 778 calls to the department, 124 being emergency calls. Parking signs were erected on the north side of Jefferson Ave., from the Boulevard to Oak Grove, prohibiting parking from 8 to 9 a.m.
FIRE & PUBLIC FACILITIES:
Under Fire, Councilman DiPisa reported that for the month of December, 1997, there were 28 calls, 7 Teterboro calls and 3 mutual aid calls, totalling 38 calls. There were 8 rescue calls, 3 Teterboro calls and 0 mutual aid calls, totalling 11 calls. Under Public Facilities, the DPW installed new florescent lighting at the Public Works Garage. In the spring, 17 new windows will be ordered for the Municipal Building, completing the project of replacing all 87 windows in the building. New energy saving light fixtures will also be installed in the building.
SANITATION & WELFARE:
Under Sanitation, Councilman Pepe reported that for the tonnage report for 1997 there were 705 tons of brush and tree limbs, 122 tons of wood scraps, 142 tons of stumps, 542 tons of grass, 843 tons of leaves, 556 tons of newspapers, 80 tons of magazines, 48 tons of cardboard, 415 tons of bottles and cans, 11 tons of tires, 2 tons of waste oil and 260 pounds of oil filters, totalling 3,531 tons of recycled materials. The BCUA will be sponsoring three household hazardous waste collection events this year giving Bergen County residents the opportunity to dispose of household hazardous waste free of charge. Under Welfare, the Department held its reorganization meeting.
HEALTH & RECREATION:
Under Health, Councilwoman Verrastro reported that for the month of December there were 7 births recorded, 53 burial permits issued, 10 food licenses issued, 44 vending machine licenses issued and 10 marriage licenses issued. There were 155 calls received for the month. She reminded residents that dog licenses are due in January. Under Recreation, the Department has been notified that it has received top awards in several categories. The Director will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
STREETS, TRANSPORTATION & PARKS:
Under Parks, Councilman Wassberg reported that due to the mild weather, the DPW was able to remove leaves from Borough parks. 100 trees have been ordered for this spring's plantings scheduled for March. The trees are 9 to 12 feet in height and an additional 50 trees will be planted in the fall. The 400 block of Jefferson Ave. will have approximately 35 trees replanted in the spring by a private contractor.
REPORT OF MAYOR:
Appointments: Robert M. Jones - Engine Company No. 2
On motion by Councilman DiPisa, seconded by Councilman Pepe, and unanimously carried, the foregoing appointment was made.
Emergency Management Council
On motion by Councilman DiPisa, seconded by Councilman Wassberg, and unanimously carried, the foregoing appointments were made. (see attached).
Resignation: Walter Paul - Hook & Ladder
On motion by Councilman DiPisa, seconded by Councilman Pepe, and unanimously carried, the foregoing resignation was accepted with regret.
Mayor Torre thanked all those individuals and departments for making Heights Night the success it was.
21. Granting of Raffle License - Euclid School PTA
On motion by Councilwoman Verrastro, seconded by Councilman Pepe, and unanimously carried, the foregoing Resolutions on the Consent Agenda were adopted. (Resolutions attached)
23. 1997 Appropriation Reserve Transfers
24. Interfund Transfer
25. Authorizing Payment for Fire Pumper
26. Redemption of Tax Title Lien - Countrywide
27. Resolution correcting errors in Ordinance No. 1808
On motion by Councilman Wassberg, seconded by Councilman Link, and unanimously carried, the foregoing Resolutions were adopted. (Resolutions attached)
ORDINANCE(S) ON INTRODUCTION: None
ORDINANCE(S) ON PUBLIC HEARING:
ORDINANCE NO.: 1808:
Mayor Torre opened the meeting to the public for anyone wishing to speak on Ordinance No. 1808. There being on one wishing to speak, Mayor Torre closed the public hearing on Ordinance No. 1808.
BE IT RESOLVED that an Ordinance entitled "AN ORDINANCE TO AUTHORIZE THE SALE PURSUANT TO N.J.S.A. 40A:12-13 OF LANDS AND PREMISES APPEARING ON THE CURRENT ASSESSMENT MAP OF THE BOROUGH OF HASBROUCK HEIGHTS AS A PORTION OF LOT 3 IN BLOCK 33 BEING 50 FEET BY APPROXIMATELY 11.6 FEET AS CREATED BY A SUBDIVISION GRANTED BY THE PLANNING BOARD OF THE BOROUGH OF HASBROUCK HEIGHTS ON MAY 2, 1997" be now passed on second and final reading and the Borough Clerk be and is hereby authorized and directed to publish said Ordinance according to law, together with notice of the final passage and approval of said Ordinance, same to be published in The Observer, a newspaper circulating and published in the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights.
On motion by Councilman Pepe, seconded by Councilman DiPisa, and unanimously carried, the foregoing Ordinance for Public Hearing was adopted.
MISCELLANEOUS FROM THE PUBLIC:
Mayor Torre opened the meeting to the public for anyone wishing to speak. There being no one wishing to speak, Mayor Torre closed the meeting to the public.
CLOSE FOR PERSONNEL:
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council desire to meet for the purpose of a closed session to discuss personnel; and
WHEREAS, the Open Public Meeting Law does specifically authorize a public body to exclude the public from a meeting for certain specified purposes;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights that a closed meeting shall take place immediately and said meeting shall be closed to the public and to the press. The results of the discussion of the closed meeting will be released to the public when the reasons for discussing and acting on the subject matter set forth above no longer exists.
Motion to go into Private Session was entertained, motioned, seconded and carried.
There being no further business to come before the Mayor and Council, the public portion of the meeting was adjourned.
I, BARBARA MALDONADO, Borough Clerk of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, do hereby certify that the foregoing Minutes are to the best of my knowledge a true account of the Regular Meeting held on January 27, 1998.
Barbara Maldonado, RMC