COUNCIL PUBLIC MEETING MINUTES - July 26, 2011
The Special Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:01pm by Council President Tobey.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT ANNOUNCEMENT
Mrs. Lashway: According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Daily Record. Notice has been posted at the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive Township, New Jersey and notices were sent to those requesting the same.
Present: Mr. Greenbaum, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Mania, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Walsh , Mr. Roman. Mr. Tobey
Also Present: Mayor David Scapicchio, Sherry Maniscalco, CFO; Fred Semrau, Township Attorney; Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk; William Sohl; Business Administrator
ORDINANCE FOR FIRST READING (2 nd reading – August 9, 2011)
President Tobey: There is one item on tonight's Agenda and that's an Ordinance for First Reading:
Ord.#26-2011 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Reactivating Flanders Netcong Road to Gold Mine Road.
President Tobey: Before opening the hearing to the public I would kindly ask Council to please… excuse me… incorporate into this session any questions, comments, statements that you may have so that when we close the meeting to the public, we can go to formal action and then Adjournment. The ordinance before us this evening was because of a unanimous recommendation by the Township Safety Committee, so that everyone is aware. At this time I'll ask Mr. Mania to please move Ordinance #26-2011.
Mr. Mania: Thank you Mr. President. I move…
Audience members: I can't hear it!
Mr. Mania: I'll speak loud then. I move that Ordinance # 26-2011be introduced by title and passed on first reading and that a meeting be held on August 9, 2011at 7:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Budd Lake, NJ for a public hearing, consideration of second reading and passage of said Ordinance and that the Clerk be directed to publish, post and make available said Ordinance in accordance with the requirements of the law.
Mr. Perkins: Second.
President Tobey: Thank you, it's been moved and seconded. At this time I will open the hearing to the public. Yes sir? Anyone that wishes to get up, kindly state your name and address for the record please.
Howie Weiss, Hogan Ct.: Tonight perhaps I'm standing here speaking as my role as the Planning Board Chairman of Mount Olive Township. I have a couple of concerns. As I started to review this ordinance and I have a series of questions as you all consider such an ordinance. My first question is kind of obvious. As you start to consider changing the circulation plan and moving some roads around… did anyone on Council… well first of all I'm concerned that nobody on the Council, the Council did not formally reach out to the Planning Board for any kind of input, for advise, for review. The Planning Board as you know has a bunch of professionals that could certainly help in this situation. My concern is that the Council never reached out to the Planning Board so my first question when it comes to that is, has anybody on the Council contacted our Planner? We have a Planner, same Planner as the Council. Has anybody on the Council reached out to the Planner? Seeing no response, I'm going to suggest that the answer is no because I know that to be fact. Nobody on the Council has reached out to the Planner. In the Town, as you all know we have a Master Plan. A big part of the Master is the circulation element of the Master Plan. Closing of a road, opening of a road will have a significant impact potentially on this Master Plan so the question is, has the Council considered the circulation element of the Master Plan and by lack of response and the fact that you haven't spoken to the Planner, I'm going to say that you haven't done any homework when it comes to the Master Plan circulation element. When we talk about roads and circulation on the Planning Board and when it comes to development we talk about impact on various intersections and so when you open a road or close a road at one point, the traffic is going to be impacted down the line somewhere. It has to be, so my next question is, has anyone on the Council done any research on the impact of intersections, other intersections? Mainly the intersection of Route 206 and Flanders Netcong Road, the corner of antique hill if you will for those who know what I'm talking about. Hearing no response, I'm going to say that you probably have not done any investigation as to the traffic that you could possibly cause at a future intersection by opening a road and causing more traffic.
President Tobey: Mr. Weiss, I'm going to jump in real quick and say you raise valid points and that is the purpose of tonight's meeting, to identify some of those concerns and research them moving forward. Tonight is First Reading. As you know, it's not a Final Adoption.
Mr. Weiss: Thank you Mr. Tobey. I am aware of that and I'm meeting, I'm raising the questions that… these are issues that truly need to be concerned. As we're talking about traffic, engineering, I know certain Council members have reached out to our Engineer but specifically has anybody investigated traffic counts? We all know that in the past decade plus, since the road was closed there have been at least two major developments on that road; two major developments that would certainly impact traffic. Has anybody investigated engineering of that road? I think the answer is overall no. Besides an initial contact to our Engineer. I've heard and not with a tremendous amount of research but I understand that there are some safety issues and the Council claiming and Mr. Tobey I know you said that the Safety Committee unanimously approved it but what are the real safety issues as I look at it? Again, from my position from Planning Board Chairman I'd have to look at certain things and what is the safety to the school children in the area? I don't have to tell anybody in this room that the Board of Education has removed courtesy busing. That's not the issue but what courtesy busing or removal of such does is it puts more children on the road. By opening up the road, you're putting more cars on the road and I hope everyone sees that it's a tremendous problem. We have a new park, Blue Atlas. It's a park that's going to attract children. You're opening up a road that could most likely affect traffic by the park. It doesn't make sense. It seems to be a disaster waiting to happen so I'm kind of looking …do we have solutions? How do we address safety issues and of course I'm sure people in the room will talk at great length about how safety is affecting them personally. We have solutions and I'm certainly no expert on safety solutions but we talk about ways to monitor that intersection. The safety concern of the Council is that you're concerned about response time for an ambulance. Has anybody looked into technology? Maybe there is somebody from the first responders that can talk about technology that's available. Being that's not my area of expertise, I'll try to be logistical. I'll look at who's in charge of logistics? Why do you park an ambulance that's waiting for a call on the downside of a dead end street? Doesn't it make more sense to put an ambulance between the residents and their parking spot? That seems a lot easier.
President Tobey: You know what Mr. Weiss, that's a great question and I assume you're addressing that to the Administration, not to this Governing body, correct?
Mr. Weiss: Yeah... I'm just addressing it. I never get an applause at the Planning Board. I have an overall problem with the concept. The Council is suggesting by this ordinance that we move traffic off of our local highways, off of the highways and onto the local streets. That logic is mind boggling. How can this Council ever consider moving traffic off of a highway and onto local streets? That doesn't make any sense and I'm not going to take up anybody else's time because I'm sure they all want to speak but I was thinking about this and I'm going to leave you with this thought. The convenience of many had to take a back seat and it must not take precedence over the quality of life of the few that live there. This Council has to consider that.
President Tobey: Thank you, please.
Marion Fleischner, Karen Pl.: Since I'm new to this community over the past three years and I have a concern for this community, I was wondering if anyone on the Council could tell me what the factual historical background as to what precipitated the changing or the locking of this road. How did it take place?
President Tobey: The locking of the road?
Mrs. Fleischner: Why is the gate up there? What precipitated that and when and how? I think that's integral in this situation.
Mr. Greenbaum: I can try and answer that question for you if you'd like?
Mrs. Fleischner: Okay, the attorney wouldn't know? He would have the knowledge and the background? You wouldn't know?
President Tobey: It's in the preamble of the ordinance that's been proposed but I will defer to Mr. Greenbaum.
Mrs. Fleischner: It doesn't, it doesn't … go ahead Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: At the time that the Trade Center was being built, the decision was made by the governing body and it was probably somewhere around 2000 or 2001, somewhere in that time frame.
Mr. Sohl: Two thousand.
Mr. Greenbaum: Two thousand, that it would be inappropriate to have access from the local roads into the shopping center. It would bring too much traffic in through the local developments and so the decision was made at that point in time to close off both Flanders Netcong Road and Goldmine Road to stop traffic flowing to the shopping center. I believe there is another road on the other side of the shopping center that goes into that trailer park community that's also blocked off. I know it's not similar to a lot of other neighborhoods like in Roxbury where they've closed off roads that had direct access into shopping centers like the Ledgewood Mall so…
Mrs. Fleischner: What part of the government of Mount Olive made that decision?
Mr. Greenbaum: Ultimately those decisions are made by the governing body which is the Town Council.
Mrs. Fleischner: Were there anyone present on any of those committees that's here tonight?
Mr. Greenbaum: I don't remember whether or not maybe myself and Mr. Perkins would have been there at the time. If it was 2000, no… there wouldn't have been anyone. Both Mr. Perkins and I came on Council in 2001.
Mr. Sohl: I was here in 2000.
Mrs. Fleischner: So what committee, what individuals made this decision and why?
Mr. Sohl: Well, the decision was ultimately made by the Council at the time. They had recommendations and it was discussed heavily and …
Mrs. Fleischner: Mr. Sohl, was this for the safety of the residents in the community?
Mr. Sohl: Yes.
Mrs. Fleischner: For the safety of the residents in the community?
Mr. Sohl: Yes.
Mrs. Fleischner: Okay, what are the Town's specifications for a road? I happened to have traveled that road today before I came here and I'm very concerned that, that road does not meet the Town's specifications. Can anyone tell me what the Town specifications are for our road? The width, the shoulder, no one can?
Audience: What shoulder?
Mrs. Fleischner: I'm making my bed right… none of you, yet you're putting this ordinance in front of this Council… none of you know what the requirements are for a road, the shoulder access? You're asking to move traffic to a heavy… to make it a heavy area and you don't know what the requirements are?
President Tobey: If the ordinance ultimately passes, the Administration would see that the road is in conformity with whatever footage.
Mrs. Fleischner: But you don't know that. You've made this ordinance, so you've taken the cart before the horse is what you're telling me? Have you spoken to the Police Department? Has the Police Department had any input into this possibly of an ordinance? I take that as a no.
Mrs. Labow: The Police Department as we understand it was part of the recommendation but I wanted to just say to you when…
Mayor Scapicchio: Colleen, the Police Department was not at that Safety Committee Meeting.
Mrs. Fleischner: Okay, case closed.
Mayor Scapicchio: It's my understanding that the Police Department did not have a representative at that Safety Committee Meeting.
Mrs. Labow: Oh, well the ordinance…
Mayor Scapicchio: That happened to be scheduled when both Mr. Sohl and myself were out of Town.
Mrs. Labow: From what the ordinance said, that there was recommendations from the Police but I…
Mrs. Fleischner: You don't know that's for sure.
Mayor Scapicchio: That's a little bit of a stretch.
Mrs. Labow: Yeah…
Mayor Scapicchio: They certainly want emergency access. To say that they asked for it to be through traffic is a stretch of what they really want.
Mrs. Labow: Yes and they asked for it to be re-striped according to the communication I got today.
Mayor Scapicchio: Whatever.
Mrs. Fleischner: Okay.
Mrs. Labow: What I wanted to say to you is what Mr. Dorsey and Council President Tobey had asked about the vacation of the road. If that was something we could do. Mr. Dorsey responded with a letter to us that said, Dear Council President, you have sent me a number of messages to speed up my research in connection with the issues raised relative to Flanders-Netcong Road. Ten years ago the Township Council adopted a series of ordinances and entered into a series of agreements with the FTZ (which is the Foreign Trade Zone) and AIG resulting in a $400,000.00 payment to the Township as a result of a then Councilman Scapicchio's confrontation in my office with Les Smith representing the FTZ over the vacation of a series of roads. This is the history, the history we received on it. Within in what is now the International Trade Zone South. The Council at the same time determined that with the opening of FTZ South, the residential character and ambiance of Flanders-Netcong Road should be preserved by prohibiting the Flanders Netcong Road from becoming a corridor for traffic going to and from the mall. It did so by vacating a 10 foot strip of width of Flanders Netcong Road so that traffic could not go from Flanders Netcong Road to Goldmine Road or vice versa. It goes on giving us the ordinance number stating that the 10 foot vacation was at or about the location where there is currently a fence. Mr. Dorsey writes, I have drawn the ordinance which you requested to essentially “reactivate” the vacated 10 foot strip so that Flanders Netcong Road again becomes a “through street.” So basically what he was saying was, the main purpose was so people could not get to and from the mall. They weren't concerned about traffic from 206 coming up to Flanders Netcong Road which seems to be the main concern that people have right now.
Mrs. Fleischner: But 11 years later you have more people who live in this Town and the safety of the children should be paramount and the residents of this town. Not whether it's political but whether it's ethical. Hypothetically if this road was opened, who has the responsibility of maintenance, cleaning, repairing, and snow removal? In this budget, has it been part of the budget? No you've already passed the budget. How does this ordinance affect the budget?
Mrs. Labow: It doesn't, it doesn't… the road…
Mr. Greenbaum: It doesn't, the road is already there.
Mrs. Labow: The road is already there.
Mr. Greenbaum: You're simply talking… look, I think most of the people in the audience know that I'm not in favor of this particular ordinance for the reasons that almost everybody emailed us. All of us sitting up here know what most of you are going to say about this particular issue. I'm not trying to cut anybody short but we know what the issues are, we know why everyone is here. There are people who believe that it should be opened and the majority of people in this room believe that it should remain closed for the safety reasons, for all of the reasons that were in all of the emails that all of us got and all of us read. Although only some of us probably responded. We know what the issues are. With respect to your issue in terms of cleaning, maintenance and alike… we already maintain that road. You're simply talking about opening up a very small…
Audience: No, no…
Mrs. Labow: There not.
Mr. Greenbaum: Flanders Netcong Road… the responsibility for maintaining…
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum one second please. Ladies and gentlemen, please be respectful of the Chair and who's speaking. Everyone will have an opportunity to get up to the podium.
Mr. Greenbaum: Let me change that. The responsibility for maintaining Flanders Netcong Road is the Township's responsibility whether you open it or not. Whether or not you believe it has been done or not and I can't believe… I believe that there are issues in terms of that road. I've driven the road; I know that it ices up in certain areas because water collects. Certainly as you start down the road near the swim club… I drive that road all the time because I have friends that live in that area but there will be no additional costs in terms to the Town hypothetically.
Mrs. Fleischner: Hypothetically
Mr. Greenbaum: Let me answer one of the questions that you had previously which was about the Police Department. This is the first that I'm hearing that the Police were not at the Safety Committee meeting. The Safety Committee is comprised of members of all of our volunteer squads plus the Police Department and they look at issues of this type. I have the minutes from the Safety Committee Meeting and I'd just like to tell you what the minutes say in terms of what was decided.
Mrs. Fleischner: I don't mean to be rude. Mr. Greenbaum, can you honestly and effectively and simply explain to me why after 11 years is this coming to fruition now? What precipitated it?
Mr. Greenbaum: I, I, can't answer that question. As I told you, someone else would have to answer that question because I'm not in favor of moving this forward so I would have to let someone else answer. If I could just tell you what the Safety Committee discussed and then you can take it from there. I'm just going to read you what the minutes say. It says, a discussion was held on the Goldmine Road and Flanders Netcong Road gates. Councilman Perkins brought up that a Township resident had approached the Council stating that the above mentioned gates posed a safety concern to the fire, police and EMS agencies. So I guess the answer to your question is that it was raised because there was a concern about fire, police and EMS. Now I don't necessarily buy into fire and police because police are going to go whereever they have to go. They're not going to necessarily take that road. They can take 206. They fly down the road anyway. Fires not going to go that way because they're going to go the most direct route to where ever they're going. EMS is a separate issue. EMS, where they are currently located and perhaps it's the wrong location as Mr. Weiss raised and I know there are others up here that share that as well and we'll look at that down the road but as it's currently situated there is an issue of safety of the EMS. There are times when going down Flanders Netcong Road is the most timely route to go to wherever they need to go. For instance if there's a situation at the shopping mall. However, having said that, that's what was discussed at the meeting according to the Minutes. It was opening the road for fire, police and EMS. It was not opening the road for the general public. So, having said that there are better ways in my opinion of dealing with this issue. As Mr. Weiss raised, there are issues in terms of technology. You can put in gates that someone can just smash through in the event of an emergency. How often is it going to happen? You put in a chirper gate so that… or you give someone a remote control and if it's not working on that particular day and the ambulance is down that road, you just take the ambulance right through the gate. We'll fix it. How often is it going to happen? How often? Once in a lifetime?
Mrs. Fleischner: Thank you for your honesty but no one said anything when we had a voluntary rescue squad. This only came about because we chose to go an alternate route, correct?
Mr. Greenbaum: Well, it came about because we were unable to get daytime coverage. We didn't have a choice at that time. Ultimately the volunteer squads agreed that the only way to effectively cover the Town from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm or 6:00 am to 7:00 pm or 5:00 am to 7:00 pm…
Mrs. Fleischner: Well, when they did it 24/7 it was not an issue.
Mr. Greenbaum: It was not an issue because you then had the volunteer ambulance squads based in different areas of Town here. One on Route 46, you have one in Old Flanders and the only time that you would actually access anything on Flanders Netcong Road is if there was an emergency on Flanders Netcong Road.
Mrs. Fleischner: Thank you for your time.
Michael Corchea, Southwind Rd.: I'm here tonight as a taxpayer of Mount Olive. As a concerned father, that was my daughter screaming in the hall. As she grows up… what I'm about to say is not funny. I'm really concerned that as she grows up and if this measure does pass, for something to happen to her… I can talk about my property value plummeting because we know that's going to happen as a main thoroughfare goes through. Nobody, as the Planning Board member said, GPS technology… it wasn't addressed to the Planning Board. Has anyone thought about GPS technology? With the increase in traffic, what's that going to bring? The High School, doing cross country, the back entrance to the High School, all the events that go on in Chester and the traffic going down 206 and being rerouted right in my front yard. I don't know if the Council… the Council members who are in favor of this, if it does pass… nothing could bring back the life of my daughter if that were to be the case but if there were litigation at that point would the Council be responsible at all? Would I get a letter, would I get a card, would anything come from this Council? I'm talking from a humanistic standpoint. I can bring up a number of other issues, legal and otherwise. I have solutions that are noninvasive like the gate. I have looked up a number of gate solutions and things like that. I want to give a lot of other people a chance to talk because there are just so many, so many issues here. Has there been a study done on response times as far as EMS, fire and police? I don't think that that's been brought up. This measure just seems to come out of nowhere. I don't know if it's political, I don't know if… I mean there's no… I know that there's no corruption in New Jersey or anything like that but I'm not sure why this would come up. It's just sort of willie nillie it seems. You know that this Council all the sudden just brings this about. I'm sorry…
Mr. Walsh: I would like to address that real quick because I have been very open minded about this whole thing and two meetings ago a gentleman came here. I forget his name and he lives a little bit further down and he may even be here tonight and addressed the Council and asked for that this be looked into.
Mr. Corchea: Okay.
Mr. Walsh: He was complaining to the Council and to the Mayor that this road was closed and it shouldn't be and that's how it all started. Then also…
Audience: Who's the person?
Mr. Greenbaum: John Davis.
Mr. Walsh: Davis, yes that's it. Thank you.
President Tobey: Ladies and gentleman please.
Mr. Walsh: Thank you and I just want to say the next thing I know… I can only tell you what I know. I know that the Council President called for the Safety meeting to be held and then also the Council President, it's also his job to decide whether to put it up for discussion which is what today is or not. Just so you know how this all came about and of course he even mentioned or people have mentioned, well the only reason it's closed is because the Mayor lives on the road. I mean I have heard people say that and I'm sure you all have.
Mr. Corchea: I live on the road too and I want it closed.
Mr. Walsh: I think it would be... it isn't the right thing to ignore it when someone comes before the Council and asks these questions but you're absolutely right that it needs to be looked into in very great detail and it had been looked into before. That's where we are now.
Mr. Corchea: I see.
Mr. Walsh: I just wanted to clarify that.
Mr. Corchea: Okay.
Mr. Walsh: It seems to be asked a few times, how did this come about? To my knowledge that's my understanding.
Mr. Corchea: Thank you.
Mr. Walsh: Sure.
President Tobey: Thank you Mr. Walsh, if I could just add on that. Mr. Corchea, that's exactly what happened, because a resident came forward there was another discussion. In that discussion it was identified that there was an issue with the ambulances, okay. It would have been irresponsible for all of us including myself certainly to just brush it under the rug. That's why we are here this evening. It's a difficult topic, we all recognize the concerns and that's why we're here to put everything on the table.
Mr. Corchea: Okay, thank you very much. My brother is an EMS person, not in New Jersey, in Connecticut. One of the things that he does is he understands the roads. I don't know where the ambulance driver who... I have it on my GPS that it's closed. I don't know how an ambulance driver anywhere could not know that the road was closed. Its sounds… I mean it doesn't sound realistic to me that an ambulance driver or somebody who could be doing that for a living could drive down a road to a dead end where it's clearly marked on every GPS and it's says “no outlet” at the beginning of the road. Maybe inexperience, I'm not sure. Again, Planning Board of Engineers, you're taking our tax dollars to fix this road and to make it legal as I think it … one of the Council members had said we have to make the road… if you're going to do this; it is going to be a major thoroughfare. Nobody can deny that. It's going to go from 206 to 46, into a major mall. We're talking about 200 cars an hour at least so to say we're just going to leave the road like that and no…. nobody can say that. Let's talk to a Planning Board, let's do some studies on the road before we even consider this on the heels of somebody who… sorry Mr. Davis, but likes convenience. I do too. I want to get to the ITC just as fast as Mr. Davis does. I don't like having to go down 206 and I would also say let's look at the people that we are hiring as a Township to drive our ambulances that were unable to find their way down a road. Thank you for your time, I appreciate it.
President Tobey: Thank you, Mr. Perkins.
Mr. Perkins: Thank you Mr. Tobey. We have Mr. Fleischner stepping up.
President Tobey: Mr. Fleischner one moment. Mr. Perkins wants to respond.
Joseph Fleischner, Karen Pl.: Yes.
Mr. Perkins: Thank you Joe.
Mr. Fleischner: You're welcome.
Mr. Perkins: Let's clarify a couple of issues here ladies and gentlemen. I am the Public Safety liaison to the Public Safety Committee here for the Council. I have been for eight of the last ten years. During the previous meeting when the resident asked that we investigate the possibility of opening this road, Council Vice President directly asked me if there might be an issue that we should take this to the Public Safety Committee. I said I didn't think so but I would follow his request and do that. I reached out to our coordinator of the Public Safety Committee with the request to investigate whether this roadway should be opened. His email response which is easily obtainable, should you request it, was that all the Captains and the Chief unanimously agreed that this roadway should be opened from a public safety standpoint. Subsequently we scheduled an actual Public Safety meeting at the end of June. During the Public Safety Committee meetings, a representative from each one of the volunteer squads as well as the Police Department who has the capacity to vote is required to be in attendance and as such there was a representative from each one of the groups including the Police Department. Since the Council is the one that passed that Resolution that made the requirement, that person was in attendance and that meeting was scheduled as a regular Public Safety Committee meeting and attended by some of my fellow Council members. The question was posed about this road as well as Goldmine. They also addressed the other portion of Flanders Netcong Road where it intersects with ITC South over by the trailer park. Everyone agreed that removing that gate was not in the best interest of public safety. The ambulance is one issue. The fire departments from both Flanders and Budd Lake as well as Flanders Rescue also voiced concern. I've lived in this Township 25, now going on 26 years. I venture to tell you that out of the 32 square miles of roadway in this Township that that roadway is constructed at least better then a good portion of the other roadways are and if you don't believe me, take a ride behind the lake and along the Manor House section which is called Country Club Estates and then come back and tell me how poorly your road is in comparison to those. We have 32 square miles and 23,000 residents. We are trying to address this. This is an open public meeting. We've all read your emails, we want your input. Your input is important to us. Understand that you have a Public Safety Committee made up of those people that run in while you're trying to run out who requested that they unanimously wanted this opened. Now are there other ways around it? An electronic gate, a siren activated gate, we all talked about that during the Public Safety meeting. Some folks were there, they can attest to that. The problem in the cold of winter, we all live here in Mount Olive so we know the way the winter is, is that the grease and oil and metal in there doesn't always work properly during cold weather. Mr. Greenbaum has stated we could smash through the gate. Yes we could, so there may be other options. That's why we are here tonight. Please respect each other's opinions. We are trying to do the proper route. Did we go back to the Planning Board? No because nobody went to the Planning Board in 2000 and said hey, we're going to put a gate up there. It's not a Planning Board issue, it's a Council issue. The Council, the members that were here and the Mayor was on the Council at that point and so was Mr. Sohl and they voted to put these gates in, in conjunction with the ITC South expansion up from where the Walmart and all is. That was an agreement made by the governing body. The governing body has the ability to reverse that. Before doing that we have reached out to the community, asked you people for input and now we're holding the public meeting. Just please respect if someone else… I personally find it hard to believe that somebody traveling south on Route 206 is going to notice the traffic jammed up when they get to Goldmine Road and they're going to make a right hand turn and then a left hand turn on Flanders Netcong, come all the way down to Drakesdale to make a left to go back into the traffic on 206. You can argue it at nausiam. I find it hard to believe that, that will happen. However…
Mr. Mania: Hey Phil, you got to…
Mr. Perkins: You have a chance to come up at any time.
President Tobey: Ladies and gentleman please.
Mr. Perkins: All we are asking… you have your opinions. We need to discuss this and if it makes it through tonight, a final vote will be taken in two weeks. Again, just please respect everyone else's opinion. Thank you Mr. President.
President Tobey: Thank you, Mr. Fleischner?
Mr. Fleischner: Thank you Mr. Tobey. First of all I would like to say that I was Chairman of the Planning Board before Mr. Weiss and having sat on the Planning Board now for a number of years, I think it is the responsibility of the Planning Board when they look at development and I was not on the Planning Board when ITC went through but I believe Mr. Mania and …
Mr. Mania: I was.
Mr. Fleischner: I'm also going to assume through the benefit of the doubt that you looked at all the roads that led into ITC and out. I would assume that. If the Planning Board did its due diligence and that's why it concerns me that you have said on many occasions I defer to the experts which would be Chuck McGroarty who has been our expert for a number of years but in a case like this, you're putting this ordinance on for discussion without ever checking with our Town Planner. That's bad planning. With that being said…
Mr. Mania: I have to interject for a second. The governing body in 2000 didn't check with the Planning Board when they closed the road; remember that, because I was not part of that Planning Board.
Mr. Fleischner: You didn't speak up to the Town Council? You didn't say anything to the Town Council.
Mr. Mania: No I did not.
Mr. Fleischner: You didn't but you could have had. That's water under the bridge, that's been done. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, we know that.
Mayor Scapicchio: Point of order.
President Tobey: Mayor?
Mayor Scapicchio: You know there were all kinds of developer's agreements that this body and the Planning Board had to approve before all of this went into effect.
Mr. Fleischner: Correct.
Mayor Scapicchio: So it was all in writing and it all is in Developer's Agreements.
Mr. Fleischner: Thank you Mr. Mayor. It seems to me that we talk about safety and I can understand that the ambulance driver sitting at Blue Atlas says, oh if we want to get to the Trade Zone, we have to go down to 206. We don't park our fire engines at Blue Atlas. Our fire engines are on Route 46 and there just off 206. The simple solution to this whole problem is don't park the ambulances at Blue Atlas. Park it at Turkey Brook. It's in the middle of the Town. Turkey Brook is the middle of our Township. Then they can go to Budd Lake and then they can go to Flanders. Its' that simple and if they need to get to the Trade Zone if they're at Blue Atlas, they go down the hill, they're on 46 and they're in the Trade Zone is my guess, my guess and I'm doing it within the speed limit for the record. From my house on the top of Smithtown Road to the Trade Zone is five and a half minutes. If an ambulance with its sirens going and they're probably not going to stop at the lights. I'm sure they're going to be there within four minutes. It's a simple solution to solve the entire problem because that really is the issue. If we open that road, make that a through street, I guarantee you that the Police are now going to have to do more driving through that area because we know what happens every time you open up a road that's been closed. When you take a road that's been a cul-de-sac and now all of the sudden it has a through street, you create other driving issues and the Police are always having to patrol it. It's a simple solution. You don't have to take a street that now is a pretty darn safe street. Have any of you ever walked that street? Probably the Mayor has and Mr. Greenbaum you're shaking your head. I suggest before you vote, you actually walk on that street because as was said earlier, there is no shoulder and even if you improve that street and I would like to know where the funds are going to come from to improve that street and create a shoulder etc. You're going to have a problem if there is no shoulder.
President Tobey: Mr. Roman:
Mr. Roman: Joe, are you recommending that we improve all the streets in the Township that have no shoulders?
Mr. Fleischner: No I'm not but what I'm saying is on that street it's very narrow. It is narrow…
Mr. Roman: Okay, it's been brought up numerous times about being no shoulder. There are plenty of streets…. I personally reside on one that has no shoulder. It just has traffic going at 45mph.
Mr. Fleischner: I guarantee, and you know Mr. Perkins, I'm just going to say one thing and everyone is entitled to their own opinion but when one person says, hey I found a short cut… we live in a world of technology and there on Facebook and there on Twitter and say hey, there's a better road to get to the ITC and I guarantee you there's going to be a lot more traffic then you think. Thank you very much.
President Tobey: Mr. Walsh then Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Walsh: I just have a question. Thank you Mr. President. Mayor, why did we decide to put the two ambulances… because that's a good point Joe, good question. Why did we put them there? Could we split them up and put them… I mean that's … is that something we can't do? I'm just asking the question. Just because you might know the history more…
Mayor Scapicchio: I think we have to defer to the Safety Committee and the Police Department.
Mr. Walsh: Okay, okay.
Mayor Scapicchio: I believe it was the Safety Committee's recommendation that, that's where they be stationed.
Mr. Walsh: Okay.
Mayor Scapicchio: Although you know, since this has come up I have a different view in terms of whether or not that's the appropriate location. I said to Mr. Sohl earlier, you know Hackettstown actually pays the Township rent to utilize Blue Atlas. You know we could station one of these vehicles…
Audience: We can't hear you.
Mayor Scapicchio: Sorry. Hackettstown presently placed the Township rent to use the Blue Atlas building. We could station one of these ambulances over at the Flanders Fire and Rescue Squad and we could station the other one over in the Budd Lake Rescue Squad building and rather than the Municipality receive those rent receipts, those two organizations can receive those rent receipts and that may very well bring down the amount of money that the Township has to donate to those two organizations. You know Pat, it's a legitimate question and it's something that should be looked into.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum?
Mr. Greenbaum: Yes, I have a couple of comments. Number one, with respect to Mr. Perkins suggestion that he finds it difficult that someone's going to make that right turn within the left; I can tell you that when that road was opened, that's the way I went to Flanders Crossing and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't find that in the least bit to be something that's not going to happen. It's going to happen and it's going to create issues at that main intersection that's already backed up far beyond its capacity. Secondly, I think one of the reasons that the ambulances ultimately were put at Blue Atlas was a number of different things. First of all there was not total support between the volunteer and the paid ambulance squads and Colleen and I have discussed this many times that a solution to this problem is to move them to the firehouses. At the time that it happened, I don't think that, that was a real possibility for whatever reason and I think one of the things that we have to provide to those overnight squads is a place where they can actually get out of the riggs and get some sleep when there's no call. You can't go to Turkey Brook. It doesn't have the kind of facility but I believe that the fire houses probably do and it seems to work during the day time to have those squads at the Flanders and Route 46 locations. I don't know why it wouldn't work. It might…. The Mayor's suggestion I think…
Mr. Walsh: It's the opposite. There on Flanders Netcong during the day.
Mrs. Labow: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: Yes during the day, I'm sorry but they still, they still… I'm sorry, I think that we still have to provide them with some place to get out of the vehicles and to… what do they do there? They actually have like an apartment.
Mr. Mania: Yes, right.
Mrs. Labow: Yes, there's an apartment there. I went and actually looked at it.
Mr. Greenbaum: I think that's one of the requirements but you know… another person asked me, what's the difference between Flanders Netcong Road and many of the other roads in Mount Olive. Every time that we have to deal with a traffic issue, it always comes up that there are no sidewalks. Most of the roads in Mount Olive don't have sidewalks and there isn't much difference between Flanders Netcong Road and most of the other developments in the road. I have to agree with whoever up here on Council said that… except for two things. Number one, it does lead directly into a shopping center and number two, it's been closed for 11 years, so the fact that it was open at one time doesn't mean anything to me anymore. What you're really doing now is taking a road that's closed and opening it. That's where the problem arises from my perspective and it really is, in my mind, being driven by convenience rather than safety. You can stand up here all day long…. having said that, I think this Council had an absolute obligation to review the safety issues and to make some determinations whether or not it's appropriate to open the road or whether it's appropriate to move the ambulances to different locations or how we can deal with any safety issue which is being identified. I just don't believe that opening up the road will cure more safety issues then it will cause.
President Tobey: Thank you Mr. Greenbaum. Excuse me, Mr. Rattner?
Mr. Steven Rattner, Goldmine Rd.: Thank you very much. To make no secret, obviously when I was first contacted about the opening of roads Goldmine Road was included. I see it's not included. I guess somebody actually walked the road, realized in some places it's less than 12 feet wide, houses four feet from the road and the bridge is out. When Toll Brothers came across with 40 ton trucks on a five ton limit; so it would cost a lot of money to reopen that part of the road. Also anybody who's looked at the Discovery Channel with what happens after man disappears, that's what Goldmine Road looks like in that area and the vegetation has already grown through it. Anyway, I'm also Vice Chair of the Morris County Planning Board and I'm also Chair of the Site Review Committee for the past decade. What that means is that I've reviewed every large project in the County during that time period. I'm here because it appears that the proposal is based on stories of inconvenience as described by certain residents with no factual traffic circulation information. Just about every major proposal coming before the Planning Board requires a comprehensive traffic report. Here you are considering redirecting traffic to residents that do not live on the roads in question but others who are looking for convenience. I have to assume that no traffic study was developed which would be a requirement for any other thing in this situation. A more direct question is, how many people on the Board have read the traffic study commissioned by the developer in 1997 and presented in 1999 which explained how many vehicles were on the road and in a testimony, how many people they expected would try to bypass the U.S. highways and use the local roads because of convenience? That is a question. Did anybody review the traffic studies why the original decision was made? As far as I understand it we got those from the Planning Board with their recommendations as a whole total project. I mean there was everything from the signs, to the connector road, to everything else and how they were going to do everything else on the road and there was a lot compromises made. Nobody's ever seen… the County has never seen a connector road that looks like spaghetti because usually you try making it straight and as direct as possible. The second reason I heard and I've heard again today was the location of the day time ambulance service. It was interesting since it was the Town Administration for whatever reason that made the decision to place them back there. Part of the reason I think was probably because of additional revenue and an existing building and there was never a question at that time, would the response time be affected by putting it there. That's when the question should have been asked. That's when the Safety Committee should have looked at it. Also, which is real interesting is before that location, the location where the paid ambulance services were located, weren't even in Town. They were on Love Lane in Netcong because that's where they had a building and I would subject to say that there are more locations in Mount Olive that can be reached quicker than they could have been by coming up from Netcong down 46 and going through the additional traffic lights. Additionally the current service is planned to be phased out. They're still trying to organize and come up with a better EMS service which the Town should be doing because you know when you dial 911 all you care about is having the best equipped, best trained, there immediately and that the real possibility is that the ambulances will be going back to the station houses of Flanders and Budd Lake under the Mount Olive EMS Corporation that's in the process of being established. When the shopping center was before the Planning Board, a review of similar projects, were reviewed, at least by me and I know a lot of other people, to see if other shopping centers had access to residential roads. The only location or the only shopping center that I found, I had to go all the way to Paramus off Route 4 and they had one shopping center that actually had access to local roads and they still have had problems for decades and still have problems today. I think the easiest example is look at the Ledgewood Mall. The Ledgewood Mall and there… there were no connector roads and there were probably no roads that people would come off of to try to go through those little developments to get to the Ledgewood Mall but good planning said that you don't allow access by the residential roads. Every one of the local roads was cut off. You can still see them if you go on and ride around and they have the polls in the road. I did review again as I did 10 or 12 years ago, the traffic studies. Just so people, if you want to know, I mean it looks real tough to go through. It's about seven or eight inches thick but six or seven inches are the appendix which is all the traffic counts. They did the traffic counts in 1997 and projected them out to 2005. It was interesting that they looked at Goldmine Road and the intersection with 206 and Route 46. They didn't do Flanders Netcong Road and 206, known as antique hill even though they did 18 other intersections including Drakestown Road and 206. What they actually found was at that time, and this was before the shopping center, that Goldmine Road…. because of the people looking for access as shortcuts from 206, with a level of service as an “F.” That means that their wait exceeds 45 seconds. The traffic report on page 15 says that they found waits exceeded 999 seconds. That's what, 14 minutes? This is in the traffic report before the shopping center. Now of course that may not be relevant because you're not opening up Goldmine Road. They also said on page 20 that based on the demographics and of residential properties to expect that traffic on local roads, all local roads to exceed 1.75% per year with no project. I think we've seen the growth and I think anybody who travels our roads can say it's at least 1.75% or at least 1.8%. On page 27 they had for purposes of this study and this was a quote. “for the purposes of this study, an 860,000 square feet general retail development is assumed. Data provided for a shopping center (land use code 820 – people who are Planners probably know what that means) in the Institute of Transportation Engineer ITE Published Trips Generation (6 th edition 1997) was used to estimate trip generation as follows. They had just on that to expect… and I won't go with the individual roads because Flanders Netcong road and Route 206 is not on there but 35,326 vehicle trips at peak and that would be on a Saturday total. That's when the peak would be. In the following testimony by the developer's traffic expert, based on their experience they can expect that 15% of the traveling public that would be going to the shopping center would find local roads to avoid the lights, the congestion… especially during holidays and other times to try and use local roads. Now, we're talking about level of service already at “F”, already taking 14 minutes to get out on the road and then you're going to find people to go… to try to avoid the traffic. They also stated that based on their knowledge, and this is in the testimony that's in the Planning Department. That people from Roxbury and Randolph… yes, people from 206 are probably not going to turn up antique hill but the people on Hillside and Eyeland Avenue know the route. That's the route they always took before. I heard that's what Mr. Greenbaum took because it saved that much time, would not go on 206. Why would you get on a highway if you could take a back road into the back way into Walmart? You figure out… I don't have to add the numbers. Fifteen percent even cutting in half, saying well the other half would have come down Goldmine Road which had a maximum count at the time of 126 vehicles that would come up antique hill. That's another 25,000 vehicles a day on a Saturday morning. This is based on the traffic study, based on where all the accepted parameters are. Again the reason why I brought up the traffic counts is because the testimony given by the traffic experts stated that they expect 15%. I think what has to be done is that first off… good planning, and I think you can see this from any other regional shopping center, does not have residential roads leading to a shopping center and you know that this Town has been working very, very hard as it should be to try to find somebody to redevelop the landfill, to make it productive, to make it a taxpayer and to benefit all the residents. Well if anything goes in there, we know some of the other projects we were talking about… or when I was on the Council… as far as four or five hundred thousand additional square feet. That is going to bring additional people. I think what you have to do and we have to look at what makes the most sense is have a traffic study developed that includes traffic calming devices. Obviously if you're going to have a main road into a shopping center, you have to find ways to slow people down. I've never liked speed bumps but there are other… I see Mrs. Labow… I talk about what other Towns have done. Like the fingers in Netcong, if you've driven through Netcong, the reason why those fingers are in the road was to slow traffic down and guess what, it worked. That should be part of it to try and make the road safer. You also have to look at designs that make it more difficult for people out of the area to get onto the roads and people who want to stay on the highway. I'm not saying about the local resident but not to make it where all you have to do is come across the highway and come up antique hill and just go into the back of Walmart. You have to think about what appropriate speed limits are and this is not what you do after you open the road. This is before you open the road. Maybe if you have the speed limit slow enough… I mean we lowered the speed limit on Sunset Drive. A lot less traffic on there. What the purpose was to is to slow people down and make it safer. Maybe if you did decide to do it you may get 15 to 20MPH speed limits so people wouldn't want to be there and make sure that the speed limits were enforced. You have to expand, and I don't know how you do it because we've heard this before, the shoulders to allow safe pedestrian traffic. Anybody who lives in that area has walkers going to school. You're talking about people trying to find shortcuts like they did before the shopping center so you can imagine that they are going to after the shopping center. They are going to find it again and have a certain amount of children walking to school and you have to have a safe place for them to do it. That's what it is and when I was on the Council it was a hard decision. In fact a lot of my neighbors liked the idea of being able to get out onto 206. Most of the time that I lived on Goldmine Road, I've been there 35 years, Goldmine Road was a dirt road. It wasn't paved on that end until they put the Transfer Station in but I had a truck so I could get out. At that time I didn't like the inconvenience. I was commuting to Middletown New Jersey, 130 miles a day and by closing off Goldmine Road it added 10 minutes to my trip each way so that's 20 minutes. When you are doing 130 miles, 20 minutes make a really big difference so I think it's great to discuss but I don't think the Town is anywhere close to the fact of opening up the road. The final thing that I want to reiterate is that with the new corporation of Mount Olive EMS, it's most likely that the ambulances are not going to be there much longer so to open up the road doesn't make any sense especially before you do a traffic study. Thank you very much.
President Tobey: Mr. Walsh?
Mr. Walsh: Thank you Mr. President. I think I may have something that may help everybody here. What… of the people here, if you could just show me a show of hands who feels the road should be left closed? Please… okay and of those of you, here come down, thank you, who feel we should consider opening it, please raise your hand, okay. I think it's real important that we know from the public, get a feel for where they stand. I think it's very important. For those who aren't here I don't buy the excuse that they are afraid to come or whatever. This is not Libya where you're going to get shot if you come speak your mind. If you have something to say, this is America; you can come and say it. So I do not believe that if… if you stayed home and didn't come, shame on you. Let me ask you this. Given that, is there a way to pull this off here right now? Can I move that we remove this from the Agenda or is it too late and we have to vote on it?
President Tobey: Fred?
Mr. Semrau: You could always move to table without a definite date and therefore the ordinance would die if you don't have any definite date.
Mr. Walsh: I move.
Mr. Semrau: But you… right now you have the public portion of the meeting so…
Mr. Walsh: Well I mean I want to give everybody their chance to speak so I guess if that's inappropriate?
Mr. Semrau: Yeah.
President Tobey: Mrs. Labow?
Mrs. Labow: I would like to make… I think everyone brought up a really valid point about the …. I'm sorry. I thought everybody brought up really good points about the traffic study and that is one thing that I think was an important component that was missing and I think because it has been an issue, those come up several times. Open the road, not open the road…. Is there any way that we could actually do a traffic study and see just what it's all about and what other measures we could take that could satisfy everyone.
Mr. Walsh: I think that's a good question but I don't even think that's necessary but I think it's an excellent point.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum?
Mr. Greenbaum: I have a point of order for Fred.
Mr. Semrau: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum : Fred, Robert's Rules allow for calling of the question so the debate, even though public session is open, a person on the Governing body could call the question and terminate and end the debate, correct?
Mr. Semrau: You could and also the Motion to table would take a precedent. There would be no discussion. If you move to table, that would be the end of it. The only problem that we have here is we did open this to the public. It's not as if you had your own debate going on and then someone moved to table or somebody moved to vote so maybe what you would want to do if there… is close the Public Portion and take your action and if you want, Council President could pass and be reopened afterwards. Maybe you won't get as much discussion after you take action.
President Tobey: You know we are certainly aware of all of the concerns. I have no problem with closing it to the public at this time and seeing if somebody has a Motion to put on the table right now.
Mr. Walsh: I would Motion to table right now.
Mr. Greenbaum: I'll second the Motion.
President Tobey: Okay, the Public Portion is now closed at this time. Mr. Walsh, you have a Motion?
Mr. Walsh: I would like to table this issue.
Mr. Greenbaum: Second.
Mr. Semrau: Now just for the record, a table of this ordinance without a definite date, it basically dies. It can be brought back at a later date but you would have to start all over again. There would be no Public Hearing at a later date. The ordinance itself would just, for all intents and purposes just die right here this evening. That would be the end of this legislation.
Mr. Greenbaum: We'd be at the same point though because we haven't advertised at this point.
Mr. Semrau: Right, that would be the end if you were to vote on it.
Mr. Greenbaum: But someone could just re-raise it and we would be right back to where we are at this point.
Mr. Perkins: You'd start from scratch.
Mr. Semrau: You would have to start all over again. There would be an initial meeting, an introduction and then an adoption but this Ordinance would not go further than this evening if this Motion to table without a definitive date is approved. That would be the end of it.
President Tobey: Mrs. Labow?
Mrs. Labow: Yes I just want to say that one of the big concerns that people had brought up from all different areas is the fact of the ambulances being on Flanders Netcong Road and we certainly have been offered some alternate solutions as well. We talked about having them stationed at Budd Lake and Flanders in the past and I thought that's where it should have been to begin with because I didn't understand why we displaced our workers. The reason why I want to say… for our Motion is, I would like to know if we can have a date and resolve…
Mr. Semrau: I think for point of clarification as I mentioned a little while ago, if there's a Motion to table and there's a second, there would be no further discussion so unless that Motion is withdrawn, that just goes to a vote.
Mrs. Labow: So we can't even discuss having a future date for it?
Mr. Semrau: No.
Mrs. Labow: Okay.
Audience: You don't even know what you're talking about.
Mr. Greenbaum: You know that's not a fair comment from the Audience. Colleen is up here trying to do what she believes to be the right thing. You may not agree with her but she's trying to fix a solution and I think the comment from the Audience was a little bit rude.
Audience: You have to follow Roberts Rule of Order. That's a point of order.
Mr. Greenbaum: I don't care. That is not necessarily true and it's certainly not something which should be raised from the Audience. There is always, there is always leeway given by the Council Chair and the fact is that Colleen is up here trying to do the right thing so I don't really appreciate the comments from the audience. We may not always agree with each other but Colleen is up here trying to do what she believes is the right thing. Even though you believe that there was…
President Tobey: Excuse me, thank you Mr. Greenbaum. Roll Call please.
ROLL CALL: Motion defeated, Mr. Greenbaum and Mr. Walsh voted Yes
Mr. Greenbaum: I make a Motion to reopen the Public Session.
Mr. Walsh: Second.
President Tobey: The meeting is back and opened to the public.
Mr. Roman: Do we want a Roll Call?
President Tobey: We don't need that.
Mr. Roman: Okay.
Mrs. Labow: Can I say something… what I wanted to say before?
President Tobey: Mrs. Labow?
Mrs. Labow: Okay, back to what I was trying to say before when I couldn't say what I wanted to say. I would like to suggest that since the main overriding issue here seems to be the safety issue and the response times of the ambulances and the accessibility for an ambulance to get to… especially the mall. Perhaps we should table this ordinance for a study to be done in terms of moving the ambulance situation and also going back and…
Mr. Mania: Traffic study.
Mrs. Labow: I really think we need a traffic study. At that point… because those seem to be two components that a lot of people are concerned with and I know Phil you and I talked about the safety issue and if the safety issue is, specifically the response time for the EMS that is a problem that we can resolve, very simply we can resolve.
President Tobey: Excuse me Mrs. Labow. I would like to continue with the Public Portion. I would ask if anyone has something different to offer, please that's what we're here for. If people are going to get up and repeat the same thing, we understand. Everyone up here understands the concerns but once again by continuing with this, this evening it does not become law. There is a lot of work to be done, there's a lot of information to be gathered and it doesn't necessarily mean that the next meeting on this has to be in two weeks, correct?
Mrs. Lashway: It's whatever date you pick.
President Tobey: Okay, so we can take ample time to do the research and gather the information we need. The purpose tonight once again, to put the issues on the table, let's address as much as we can and from the Minutes, we have a lot of research to gather okay.
Mr. Mania: Mr. Tobey if I may? We've got this scheduled for August 9 th . Is there enough time?
President Tobey: That does not have to be. It does not have to…
Mr. Mania: Well that's the reason why I'm bringing that point up.
President Tobey: Correct.
Mr. Mania: We won't have time to do these studies by August 9 th .
President Tobey: It does not have to be August 9 th . Please state your name and address for the record.
Barbara Brushard, Flanders Netcong Rd.: I'm not going to address anything that everybody has said before. I do want to address a couple of things that people have said about safety and reopening the road and thinking that's it's as simple as just removing the gate. That portion of the road between the gate and Goldmine Road is not safe as a two lane road. Okay, that is my one point. I'm going to be out of here in one more minute. Mr. Greenbaum you mentioned something about… no, you mentioned the thing about the road. Safety, alright, the road has not been used the last two if not the last three winters because it's not plowed out so the Police or the Fireman or the Ambulance who are saying that they need that through street, alright. Police go down there all the time. They haven't noticed that they can't get through because there's two feet of snow? Somewhere along the line this Town has been working around it. I don't necessarily agree that they should be working around it but if you're going to consider safety then you got to consider, even if you keep the road closed, if you want to be able to get firemen and EMS through, they've got to plow it and if it's not plowed, then it's got to be recorded back into the Town, alright? That for me is one of the other things. The third point I wanted to make, I've been taken out by ambulance. My next store neighbor's wife who passed last year was taken out by an ambulance, alright. So was my boyfriend, taken out by an ambulance and in none of the cases did they pull out of my house and go down towards the mall and towards the gate, alright? In all three cases that gate was open because that gate had been bashed and destroyed. I finally remember what you were making a point as Mr. Greenbaum as far as having a gate there that you could just bash through. People have been bashing through that gate regardless of what you put up for the last eleven years. If you put something that's not going to destroy an EMS or a Police car or anything like that, then you're going to be replacing it on almost a daily basis and that's it.
President Tobey: Okay, thank you.
Kathleen Caterera, Flanders Netcong Rd.: To answer your question about cutting through, I've only been on Flanders Netcong Road for three years and when I lived on Robert Street, I used to cut through there all the time when there's traffic on 206, all the time. I work in a company of 50 people and 25 of those 50 people come up Drakesdale because they come off Route 80. They told me that if they open Flanders Netcong Road, they will be coming down Goldmine so that's 25 people there that will be coming down who have friends, who have friends, who have friends, who have friends that know the area. Thanks.
Theresa McNeemer, Flanders Drakestown Rd.: I know I'm not in the majority by any means. However I'm requesting that the road be reopened. It's been opened since I was a little girl. I lived here all my life and I know that someone on Council said, “I don't really care if it's been open, however long it's been open or shut” but I'm the mother of a brand new driver and I personally don't want my child driving down Flanders Netcong Road, going down Drakesdale Road, and making a left onto 206 to get to ITC. I don't think that there's been a whole lot of thought to our new drivers honestly. I don't want her to risk her life on Route 206. In fact the number of accidents that I've seen at the corner of Flanders Netcong Road and 206 speaks for itself. It really does, it's a dangerous road when you're sitting on 206 trying to make a left into ITC. I don't like sitting there and I'm an experienced driver. I've been rerouted on at least two occasions for accidents on 206, for major accidents. Goldmine Road has been closed as we say for the children's safety. What children? Are only the children who live on this stretch of road important enough to guard their safety? What about my child? How about the High School Students who have to drive from Goldmine Road, down Flanders Netcong to get to the High School. How about them? Are your children more important than my child? I don't want my friends children being killed either because they have to go down to 206 to make the left hand turn to get to ITC or to go around to get to the High School. I wrote a letter because I just wanted to make sure that I put all of my points in here. The unwanted traffic on the road traveling to ITC, I really don't think as someone on the Council said before that someone coming from Chester is going to veer off of 206 to come up Flanders Netcong to go the back way to ITC. They are going to stay on 206. People from Roxbury are going to come up 80; people from 46 are going to stay on 46. I've been on 46 and I just go straight down and then I make the right into ITC. I'm not going to go around a back road to get on, to get into the ITC. Really the only people who are going to be using those roads are local people. There's really not going to be that much more unwanted traffic. It was already stated that there has not been traffic studies done so until that's done, I really don't think that anybody could say, there's going to be 500 more cars or extra truck traffic. Rather than putting up a gate that's going to cost us every single time it's smashed through, put a weight limit on the road.
Audience: There is one.
Mrs. McNeemer: Well, there's a weight limit…
President Tobey: Excuse me, ladies and gentleman please.
Mrs. McNeemer: Thank you. Let's post a sign, a weight limit sign. There are other options rather than closing the road or keeping the road closed. I'm really concerned for my daughter's safety and the safety of my friend's children. I would like that road reopened. I don't think that any public road without the public speaking should have been closed in the first place so I would like the road reopened.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Amy Gunzel, Flanders Netcong Rd.: I sent you all an email so I'm not going to go over the same things that I put in the email but I did want to mention a point that I don't think many people really talked about and that's the High School being at the corner of Cory and Flanders Netcong Road and she just brought up the High Schoolers. I have a concern about that intersection before the road being opened. When the kids arrive at the High School it's like 6:50am, 7:00am and that's when Walmart opens. When I think about what the traffic's going to be like there and what it is like there now, I get really concerned. I live on that stretch of the road with the three sharp turn signs so I have to go up the hill to drop my daughter off at the High School or if she was driving, she would have to go up there. I have to actually go into Cory Road, make a right into the High School, do the regular drop off and then I can't go back out the same way because I would be causing more traffic. I have to go back, out the back way on Flanders Road, go back up to Flanders Netcong Road and then make a right down Flanders Netcong Road just to go back down the hill to go to my house. That intersection right now before entering the road is ridiculously dangerous and I don't think that anyone should even do a study on that road unless you are looking at it at the time that the High School opens. When everyone is getting out of there it is just a nightmare and I'm afraid of the students getting in accidents. It's a crazy crowded spot at the time. Also, I've lived at Flanders Netcong Road for 18 years now so I was there when it was a through street. Where I am, I'm right between Flanders Drakestown and Cory and every Friday night we used to joke because we'd get pizza on Friday nights and when we would get the pizza, I'm like I could go out there and sell it for $5.00 a slice and I would make a fortune because the road was all the way up to where Carlton Hills is. If it's all the way up to Carlton Hills before all of the extra developments put on the end of Flanders Netcong Road and the one um… Flanders Road, there's a new development there, Toll Brothers Development. All those three different developments have added how much traffic already, before opening it up as a through street. I work in Stanhope. In the morning when I go to Stanhope, 206 is always backed up down going towards A&P. It is completely backed up. All those people are going to go down Goldmine. They are going to take Flanders Netcong Road, they're going to take a right on Cory, go to Flanders Drakestown, they're going to take a right on Flanders Drakestown, and they're going to take a left on Tinc. They're going to go down Old Tinc Road which we really don't want more traffic on. Then right there, they're going to go through 206 past A&P because that would be the shortest way and everybody's GPS's are going to teach them how to do that. I honestly don't believe that this is a good choice and I think it would be very dangerous to our High School students to have that open, much less also the kids on Tinc, and all the kids who are now walking. I don't want to go over things that we talked about but you know you have the courtesy busing and the extra cars and all that stuff. I think it's something you have to take into consideration in the morning. That's basically all I wanted to say, thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Jeff Gunzel, Flanders Netcong Rd.: I'm walking on dangerous ground adding to what my wife said but I'm going to go for it. As far as a traffic study, the realities of a traffic study was done and you know, we're talking about potentially spending more taxpayers dollars on a traffic study when a traffic study was done prior to the decision that was made to close the road and that traffic study informed that decision and the decision was made to close the road. To reuse taxpayer dollars to do another traffic study does not seem to make any sense whatsoever. In response to Mrs. McNeemer and some other comments that have been made in regards to safety; as a resident on Flanders Netcong Road I have personally been the witness to multiple accidents. I've ran out my door because I've heard cars hit trees, had a car knock the mailbox off across the street, flipped over down the street and each one of those that I went out to, not a single person was a local resident. It is already a road that is used as an alternate for people that aren't local. It did not decrease… I don't know if there was a traffic study when the speed limit was reduced from 45 or 40 I think it was to 35. I don't think it's changed anything. It's still a dangerous road, still has a high volume of traffic and being one of those fifteen percenters that would take the short cut, I know there's plenty of people that will be taking that short cut. Route 206 gets completely backed up and everyone knows that. At 7:00am when 206 is sitting still, there's plenty of people that are going to be turning and going down Flanders Netcong Road, right by as my wife pointed out, right by the High School. It's not just that this is a made up thing. I've commuted on 206 for years and if there's any way around it… on my way home, many of times I turn now coming from the South, I turn at Toys R Us and take the back roads up to avoid 206. It's longer distance wise, it's much slower and the people on Tinc Road, the hill of Tinc Road probably hate it but sitting on 206 after driving for an hour and a half drives me crazy and I know I'm not alone and other people will be doing that coming from the North. It's clearly not a wise decision. The safety to me seems like a real excuse. There are plenty of other alternatives from a safety perspective. There's plenty of ways to manage that. Emergency vehicles could have access through that road if that's what you wanted to do and that was truly the concern and there's a way that you can mange that with the companies that are…. the ambulance services that they know where to go. It boggles my mind that an emergency ambulance service went the wrong way down the road. The fact that we are contracting with that incompetence really worries me but that is a separate issue for another day, but anyway thank you for your time and I hope you find the right decision here and don't even look at further studies at opening the road and spending more tax dollars on that initiative, thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Mrs. Labow: I just have a question for that gentleman and his wife who was just here. I'm not singling you out or anything like that but you brought up a point that something has come to me, a question that has been posed to me several times and people on Tinc Road, they have actually said to me, why is it okay for us to deal with the extra traffic and people cutting through but not the people on Flanders Netcong Road. The people on Drakesdale Road just two days ago, a gentleman call me up and said “Why do we have to deal with all the issues on Flanders Netcong Road and nobody on that section should?” That's like one of the questions that people keep posing. Why is it okay for everybody else to deal with people cutting through but the people on that one section?
Mrs. Gunzel: What are you talking about?
Mrs. Labow: The thing that everybody keeps saying is the traffic on 206. People aren't really…
Jeff Gunzel: I think that it is a real issue for a lot of our roads in Flanders and I think there are solutions so on Tinc Road, if at the bottom of that hill it said “no through traffic,” I wouldn't go up that hill because I don't need points on my license just to take a shortcut so I think there are ways you can address that.
Mrs. Labow: That's what I was thinking too. I was telling somebody today…
Mr. Gunzel: I think that is a separate issue from this and I don't think it's fair to say, what about me when…
Mrs. Labow: I just wanted to bring it up because when you said that you go through Tinc Road, because I've done the same thing you've done when I didn't want to get on 206 and I've gone up Tinc Road. I always feel bad because I'm like, all these poor people, the people going through here which is the same thing Flanders Netcong Road but that's a question that comes up repeatedly to me. For 10 years I've had people yelling at me saying why you don't open Flanders Netcong Road. This is ridiculous; we are all paying for that road, why can't we use it? I think the only way to possibly use it is to put in safety measures and look at alternate…
Mr. Gunzel: At the same time there was a decision… I mean I kind of feel like it's an end run and that there was a decision made 11 years ago to close that road is part of the whole decision to put Wal-Mart there and say that's an okay decision and now 11 years later we're kind of saying, okay we've cleared that hurdle, got the business down, lets…
Mrs. Labow: Well the other thing too I was thinking, because I've obviously put a lot of thought into this and I've traveled up and down the road the past three weeks, I've done all kinds of measurements. I don't make decisions until I check it all out and I drive my colleagues crazy with it. I also went down to Roxbury and I checked out that situation, I went to Chester and checked out that situation so I didn't just come to any decisions without checking it out. One of the things I was thinking about was years ago when this decision was made to close Flanders Netcong Road and Goldmine Road, we didn't have International Drive so we didn't have that access to get from 46 to 206 and in that respect I would like to have a traffic study to see what kind of impact that did make and also Mr. Rattner had mentioned he had… Steve, I don't know where he is right now. We had a long conversation today about traffic, speed reducing measures and there are a lot available and I think that we do have to kind of look at that and see if we can come to a compromise where we open up the road but we install devices that keep the traffic light, to make it less desirable for anybody on 206 to jump up there.
Mrs. Gunzel: What happens if there's an accident on 206, because there's always accidents on Route 206.
Mrs. Labow: I talked to a resident about that today, Barbara and she was up here before and she said that many times there is an accident on 206 and the Police will open the gate and the traffic will come down. I didn't even realize that they actually do that.
Mrs. Gunzel: I think it's closed now but I lived there when it was open and it went just not to where International Drive is, it went all the way through. I don't know the name of the road where the Police Barracks are up by 80. Old Ledgewood Road, so when any place from Route 80, way past A&P… they opened up the road to everybody on 206 and took it all the way through the back roads as opposed to having a different detour. If I'm walking on the side of the road when they decide to do that, is that a safe decision? I think about it, you guys keep taking about…. that none of the roads in Mount Olive have sidewalks. Well not every road, it's not a main road for the High School. This is a main road for the High School and you know a lot of the kids walk now. A lot of those kids took the buses when the buses were there and they walk now. They have to walk up, and right now the spot that I have to walk up, Flanders Netcong Road is like a barrel of dug out stuff from the rains in the spring and it's been that way. I think one of the neighbors put some cement in there but then the other neighbors haven't so you know it's dug out, it's like a big dangerous spot to walk so you know, and what happens then when it's closed and all these cars are running down the road? It just doesn't seem fair.
President Tobey: Mayor?
Mayor Scapicchio: Yes, I've heard this come up several times that one of the EMS buses made the right hand turn coming out of Blue Atlas and couldn't get through. Bill and I checked with the Emergency Management Coordinator and we have not heard that so I am just questioning where that's coming from.
Mr. Gunzel: It was in the Mount Olive Chronicle.
Mayor Scapicchio: That doesn't make it true.
Mr. Gunzel: The name of the resident was in the article so he is the one that …
Mayor Scapicchio: Do you remember who the resident was?
Mr. Gunzel: I don't remember that off the top of my…
Mayor Scapicchio: Was it Johnny Davis?
Mr. Gunzel: I don't remember the name. Maybe Johnny can clarify that.
Mayor Scapicchio: I can tell you that there are reports and those instances come back to the Emergency Management Coordinator who reports to the Business Administrator, who then funnels that information down to me and we have not heard that to be factual.
Mr. Gunzel: If this is truly, and I think it's an excuse, this safety issue but if it's truly a safety issue then there are absolutely ways you can make it a “do not enter” on both sides of it except for emergency vehicles and have some sort of way that the emergency vehicles can pass. There's way that you can do it and manage it without increasing the traffic flow and managing the safety.
President Tobey: Thank you, Mr. Roman?
Mr. Roman: I also have a question for you. You previously stated that if there was a sign on Tinc Road that should say, “no thru traffic” that you would avoid going through there.
Mr. Gunzel: Absolutely.
Mr. Roman: Then just to hear your closing comment…. I'm assuming that you're amenable to the gate being removed and signage being placed for “official use only” and if you were to pass through there you know there would be a severe penalty. Am I assuming from your comment that you would be in favor of such?
Mr. Gunzel: I am not in favor of that okay and I don't think the road should be opened, however while I think it is, a commentator recently said this, that our politics have lost the ability to compromise and if we were going to go down the road of compromise, I think there are things that could be done. I would still fight against that. I think it should remain closed. I don't think it's a real safety issue but if that was really the issue and there wasn't other alternatives, I think there are ways that you could open it up for safety purposes without opening it up to through traffic, if that makes sense.
Mr. Roman: It makes perfect sense, thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you.
John Davis, 223 Flanders Netcong Rd.: Good evening everyone, John Davis. I started this a couple of months ago, a motion to open up that road with a 25 mph speed limit, no trucks, just for the use of our residents, all of our residents not just... We obviously have the whole group from that neck of the woods here. Congratulations, Mr. Mayor, your friends and supporters are all here.
Mayor Scapicchio: They're some of your neighbors too, John.
Mr. Davis: Some of my neighbors, a lot of my friends and customers live by you also and I love a lot of them. I don't care about a lot of them.
Mayor Scapicchio: And they are not just from my end.
Mr. Davis: I'm not just here to complain about the road but the road was closed temporarily during construction of that Walmart and Trade Zone stores and that was what I learned back in 2000 and I was…
Mayor Scapicchio: That's not true.
Mr. Davis: I missed out where they closed it permanently somehow. I didn't catch wind of it. It wasn't put before the Planning Board. It should have been before they closed the road and that was a little mistake. I don't know if that made the closing legal or illegal but I'm sure the Planning Board would like to have addressed it before you permanently closed it as they would like to address it at this time. As far as reports, the road has never been open since the mall was built so how could you have any cumulative report of traffic. There all just guess work, most of it and I've seen the report by some local officer from 10 - 15 years ago and that's pretty questionable in my mind. I traveled that road for 30 years. I've lived in my house for 30 years on Flanders Netcong Road right across from Camp Deeny Riback. I'm on the section of road that's not closed to any trucks, any buses, anything and I've had no instances, kids walking to school, there's kids crossing. They cut through the yard. Most of the people over in my area, we have our lawns flat and clean where they can walk on the shoulder. You don't have rocks piled up out there trying to make the road thinner enough. We're trying to make it wider. The County maintains that section of the road up until the swim club and there's where my issue is for safety. Driving to that Drakesdale, going up 206 and over to Goldmine Road, my daughter goes to gymnastics for eight years there. There's two gymnastics places on Goldmine Road along with another place for kids and some more businesses in our Township that are on that road, Mount Olive businesses but we have to go down on the State highway through the most treacherous highway around, through Roxbury, turn left on either Goldmine or at the traffic light which we've had accidents from my household at that light. My baby was three weeks old when a deer jumped on the roof at the left hand turn lane and a car hit her in the rear end, my wife was driving…
Audience interruption: That's your problem.
Mr. Davis: I'm sorry you feel that way sir but that was one of the issues that led me here this time because we are burning up three times the gas to go towards our shopping in Mount Olive, thru Roxbury, up the hill, back around, back around, up Drakesdale. You are burning up three times the gas easily, easily. That's cumulatively hundreds of thousands of dollars in the neighborhood. You folks would benefit the most from it. You live so close to it by using it. As far as keeping the traffic out, no trucks, limit the tonnage, 25 mph. That will deter anybody from wanting to cut through there.
President Tobey: Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen…excuse me, excuse me. Mr. Davis, ladies and gentlemen please be respectful of who is speaking. If you would like to speak, everyone will have an opportunity please.
Mr. Davis: Thank you. But the signs will be posted just before this is open. They would set the speed limit to meet 25 mph in your neighborhood because we do respect all your family and walking dogs and your children. I have children. They are going to kindergarten and fifth grade. They have to be, I have to pay $400 extra to have them go to Tinc Road School which, they can't walk there. There's no walks on Tinc Road, Flanders Drakestown. Cory Road looks good but after that we have a lot of disconnected sections of sidewalk and roadway in our town and this road is a main thoroughfare north and south. It has always been a through road. Two hundred years ago it was the only through road. There wasn't Route 206 even one hundred years ago. This road has been there since the Indians used it probably and if we look back.
Mr. Davis: That road was there before Route 206. It always was. They don't call it Flanders to Netcong Road because of anything else.
President Tobey: Mr. Davis, Mr. Davis, Mr. Davis, any comments, please direct them to this governing body, not to the audience please.
Mr. Davis: Alright, well I'm hearing the noise, it's distracting. I'm sorry. But that would be my issue; the safety issue here is not only the EMS and the fire which EMS did. I was standing next to the head of the EMS who works in town truck during the day. The radio went off, they went down there. They had to turn around and come back.
Mayor Scapicchio: Well, if that is a local employee, he definitely knows there is a gate at that road, then why did the idiot make a right hand turn?
Mayor Scapicchio: That's the question I want to know.
Mr. Davis: Excuse me sir, Mr. Mayor, with all due respect, he heard it on the radio that they went down there. It wasn't him directly. He heard that and I heard it. I'm standing by the truck who happens to be in the water tower driveway next to my property, standing there speaking with him when it happened.
Mayor Scapicchio: We'll look into that.
Mr. Davis: It was looked into and it was verified and I spoke to him again afterward saying, is that alright I told everybody and he said yes so, and I hope he doesn't lose his job because of that.
Mr. Davis: No, he shouldn't. He's telling me facts not fiction.
President Tobey: Mr. Davis, please.
Mr. Davis: I'm sorry sir but like I said, the safety issue, the dangerous Route 206. We are all going re-routed up 206 to shop in our own town and you are not even aware of the danger that is there compared just reopening a road for our local residents. The people who cut through the most will just be the people on Cory, Bennington area, Tinc Road area. Upper Flanders will go the mall that way and have to stay off the highway. The State encourages us to use secondary roads. They don't want to hear about us funneling people on to that road. Roxbury Township is not going to want hear about us funneling people on that road. Their accident reports are up at that Goldmine intersection of 206 and at the Trade Zone entrance because that traffic light seems to cause some problems. There's more accidents at the light than at the Goldmine intersection but I'm scared to death every time I try turning left on Goldmine, I'm looking in my mirror, and they are coming up behind you. Should you turn left or go up to the light and take your chances and that's the issues I have and it is a safety issue. That's my safety issue, if it's not a safety issue for all of you and your family. God forbid there is going to be fiery crash on that 206 and somebody from this town is decimated and we lose, we've lost loved ones over on the other side of town. Sandshore Road, two deaths in the last five years. Smithtown Road, we lost a young lady and those are roads no different than our road over here, Flanders Netcong. Our Flanders Netcong Road is in better shape than most of those other roads as our Council has been telling us and it is the only connection left for the infrastructure of our town to reconnect. We've got the Goldmine problem. That road is decimated right now. It's gone. It needs total repair, a lot of money to be spent to fix it. I see that too. There's people over there organizing a group to open it but they've got a long road ahead of them and they are going to be coming here soon too I've heard. I'm not trying to make enemies. I love all my neighbors and the customers I've had down there and everything and I'm just trying to look out for everybody's best interest. Our road is busy in front of my house. They go down Drakesdale, down Flanders Netcong, down Cory, Flanders Road. I'm between all of those roads between Carlton and Flanders Road. Right on the main drag and I don't see a problem with the traffic. It's heavier than where it is where you all live but I've no problem. I've children. I get out of my driveway with ease. People drive 35 mph. You'll get a speeder and our Police Department will do their job. We put up the signs; they'll make a few dollars writing out some tickets to keep people from wanting to cut down Goldmine and down there. That used to be a great short cut but if you put 25 mph, no trucks, no garbage trucks are going to the trash Transfer Station that way. They are not allowed. No trucks allowed. It's on that road now. Four tons or less is on that road when you enter by the Swim Club. That's what the sign says.
President Tobey: Mr. Davis, excuse me. I'm not trying to be a wise guy but I need the eyes up here because you are addressing the audience please. Okay.
Mr. Davis: I'm sorry Mr. Tobey. I just keep hearing it. Alright but the safety issue, the gasoline expense alone is triple what it would be if you just went back and forth. I don't go there to shop as much as most folks. I go there when my kids are in gymnastics on Goldmine Road, like I said, there CNS Gymnastics. There's another gymnastics place there where we take our kids and I've got to turn in on a busy street Thursday and Friday afternoon. 206 is heck. It's terrible on 206 in the afternoons and I'm just explaining that to all of you…
President Tobey: Mr. Davis, if I may, if I may. We hear you. We understand and I appreciate your time this evening.
Mr. Davis: Bad habit. I appreciate letting me speak and that is the only reason I brought it all up along with, common sense is safety. It just is. It's not to bust chops and ruin your neighborhoods or anybody's.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Mr. Davis: Thank you.
Lindsay Scapicchio, 124 Flanders Netcong Rd.: Just something earlier about people cutting through. I know personally when the Dunkin Donuts in Flanders was closed, I actually went down to the one at the Exxon and because of traffic on 206, went back up the hill and then down antique hill. So that's just one thing I wanted to say not to mention that I did notice people turning off 206 and I would follow them down the hill or they would follow me down the hill. From my understanding, the road is being opened due to a safety issue, meaning EMS and that they are stationed at the Blue Atlas so if this is the case then why are we talking about all of this other stuff. Shouldn't we be talking about the road just being opened for the safety, EMS so going either a gate or something of that magnitude?
President Tobey: That's a good point and that's something that will come out of tonight's meeting with further discussion.
Ms. Scapicchio: Okay, also, have any of the Council members thought about what should be done to the roads that are currently closed if they are opened like sidewalks, street lights, something to accommodate the higher traffic due to the opening of the road?
President Tobey: There was a discussion regarding weight limits and speed limits, yes to answer your question.
Ms. Scapicchio: Okay, so you would lower the speed limit and add…
President Tobey: I don't know if it would be lower or maintained. Once again, it would be weight limits and restrictions, yes, that is…
Ms. Scapicchio: Maintained meaning more Police on the road to maintain it?
President Tobey: Not necessarily more Police. That's something that we would need to discuss further.
Ms. Scapicchio: Can anyone on the Council tell me a reason they personally believe that the road should be opened aside from the safety of the EMS?
Mr. Walsh: You know, I mean, if I were to say I would want it open, I mean, my wife and two kids would love to cut through there. I mean the convenience…
Ms. Scapicchio: So what you are saying is if you chose…
Mr. Walsh: I'm not saying we should open it, I'm just saying that if I were to give you a reason why, it's really convenient.
Ms. Scapicchio: But if you wanted it open, it would be for convenience. I know that…
Mr. Walsh: And safety so that my daughter, she's only 8 now, but when she is old enough she doesn't have to go out on 206.
Ms. Scapicchio: Okay, so if I'm correct, before you motioned No.
Mr. Walsh: Right, I'm just telling you what the reasons would be. You asked so I'm answering.
Ms. Scapicchio: So convenience. Now any of the four people, who said, like it open, can any of you tell me a personal reason other than the EMS, why they would like it opened.
President Tobey: Mrs. Labow?
Mrs. Labow: I've been doing a lot of research with all of this and a few years ago I was down at the League of Municipalities. I'd gone to one of the, they have these classes all the time and one of the things the DOT was talking about was getting your local traffic, staying within the local parameters and getting them off the major highways. And I talked to a couple of residents today and as far as opening Flanders Netcong Road, and I told Phil and talked to a couple of people, we will have to do a lot to make that road as unappealing as possible to the commuters and still have the residents be able to use it. Whether that is possible or not, I don't know but I think it is certainly something that we should look in to. Some of the things that I definitely want to do are reduce the speed limit to 25 mph. I would want at least every third of a mile; I would personally think the rumble strips really slow people down. I think at the intersection where you have Flanders, right now you have a stop light; you have to make a hard left or a hard right. Where Drakesdale Road meets right there, I think we should have another stop sign. Actually I made a map; I made a little map today if you want to look at it. I think we should have five stop signs there to make everybody stop…
Mrs. Labow: I know everybody says no but it's a possibility. I'm just thinking in terms of trying to make people slow down so that they don't go racing through there because before, remember when the stop…you were younger but when the stop sign was at Drakesdale Road instead of Flanders Netcong Road, I remember people going through Flanders Netcong Road and almost hit me and that's why I think we definitely have to have the stop sign there and a stop sign at Flanders or Drakesdale Road. Another lady today mentioned to me that the curve coming around Flanders Netcong Road from the High School end, if you are making a left turn on Drakesdale, it's really hard to see, people coming whipping around there. So that's why I'm thinking if we had a stop sign over there but then I was also told, Rob is laughing. These are just suggestions. I mean I just want y'all to understand, I don't think any of us take this decision lightly. We are looking at all of the alternatives, all of the possibilities if we are to open that up and the main thing I think we need to do is slow the traffic down if we do open it and make sure that we don't, we don't want it to be convenient for commuters to cut through there. We want the residents to be able to use it at a safe speed so we keep our residents off the busy highway and let the commuters stay on the highway. Can we achieve that? I don't know.
Ms. Scapicchio: Okay, I'm going to…
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: I must be an idiot because I just don't get it. I've been listening to what everyone has to say and other than for the convenience of the local residents who want to use that road, I just don't see the safety issue at all especially when you talk about stop signs, rumble strips. You know, if you are talking about getting faster access of the emergency vehicles, you are not talking about putting things which are going to slow down traffic on the road but you what?
Mr. Greenbaum: To me, this is about opening up a road for the convenience of motorists. That's what this is all about. I'm not saying that it is an invalid reason to do it but if that is what we are talking about, let's talk about that rather than throw this safety issue into the mix. If we are opening it because it is quicker to get to the mall, let's talk about why we are opening it for that reason.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum, this meeting tonight was because of a recommendation by the Safety Committee. Without that recommendation we wouldn't be meeting tonight quite frankly.
Mr. Greenbaum: Mr…I would take issue with that because I have the Minutes right in front of me. It doesn't say opening the road for residents. It talks about opening the roads, the safety concern to the fire, Police and EMS agencies. I bet if you went back and you had…and the ordinance. This is not the correct ordinance any way.
Mayor Scapicchio: The language is the same.
Mr. Greenbaum: Is it? The ordinance that the Mayor put in front of me talks about Netcong Road to be again open as a through street to Goldmine Road is not what the Safety Committee, at least put in the Minutes of the meeting. I was not aware of the Safety Committee meeting. I know a lot of other Council members were present when this meeting occurred. I didn't see anything come across my mail that there was going to be a Safety Committee meeting but again, to me, at this point if you are talking about changing the gate, doing something to allow for better emergency vehicle usage, that's one thing but that's not what we are talking about here. We are talking opening the road for the convenience of residents of both Mount Olive and anyone else who is going to use that road. And again, I don't think that is an invalid discussion, I just think that that's really what we are doing is camouflaging the real reason that this is up here and calling it a safety reason. Really what we are talking about is convenience issues.
President Tobey: I respectfully disagree with that. Mr. Roman.
Mr. Roman: Rob, having been one of the persons who attended the Safety Committee meeting, it was my impression from all of the persons in attendance that the reason was for their use only. It did not come across to me that they were endorsing it, opening it up to all traffic whatsoever and currently the way the ordinance is written, I know I have a problem because it does not make it for emergency use only. So, you know, just being one that attended that Safety Committee that was the impression that I got and just for the record I chose not to speak at that meeting because procedures prevented that.
Mr. Greenbaum: May I respond to that?
President Tobey: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: I appreciate that and I think that is consistent with what's in the Minutes here but that's not what we're talking about here tonight. What we are talking about here tonight and what the whole focus of this discussion has been on the contrary side, are we opening it up for everybody or are we not opening it up for everybody as opposed to if we were really taking up what the Safety Committee wanted us to discuss. It would be how are we going to create a situation where the EMS, the fire and the Police are going to have better access from that road to the ITC and at the same time not opening it up as a through street because that's not what was discussed. If the justification for this meeting is what happened at the Safety Committee, then we've gone far afield.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum, the Safety Committee made a recommendation. Approximately five weeks ago I received a phone call from the Mayor with regards to the safety concerns. What the Mayor said to me is, if I can come up with some options to address it would you listen. Naturally my response was, absolutely. I've yet to receive a phone call. We're here this evening and after this meeting if we have a get together and we find a solution, so be it. That's what makes the system work. What makes the system work is an issue has been identified. A public safety recommendation was made and everyone took time out of their personal lives to come here this evening and I have no problem with that because there's nothing wrong with disagreeing. There's nothing wrong with everyone having a position, okay, and quite frankly that is what makes the system work at gatherings like this evening.
Mr. Greenbaum: I agree wholeheartedly but having said that Phil, I told you off the record that if Flanders Netcong Road gets opened, I'm using it. I'm using it right now. If I'm coming down 206, I'll go up Drakesdale to come back down antique hill to avoid that stretch on 206 because I know I can do it and so will a lot of other people and I don't disagree with you that this discussion is good but it's not what was discussed at the public safety meeting. The ordinance which should have been put on the table and whether it came from the Administration or it came from whoever drafted the ordinances; this is an option which the bulk of this Council will agree will allow better access for emergency vehicles, not opening up the road for all traffic because that's not what was discussed. Mr. Roman was there, I was not. I only have the Minutes to work from but I bet if you go back to the Safety Committee and you say, okay we have an option which will allow you guys to use the road and this is how it is going to happen or we can open it up for everybody from a safety perspective, what's the best way to go? I guarantee you that they would vote in favor of the first option of not opening up the road completely because at this point it is not safe to open up that road. It's not what was put before the Safety Committee and it shouldn't be what is in our ordinance here tonight. And whether it is the Administration which faltered or we faltered, it makes no difference. Let's come back with an ordinance which deals with the issue which needs to be addressed. How do we allow for the best safety response of our EMS, Police Department, fire department and still at the same time maintain what we have in that area of town which is a safe community which is a community for the last 11 years that has not had thru traffic through that development.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum, I'm not adverse to any of that and quite honestly, I hope the ordinance passes this evening as a means to force the Administration, the Safety Committee and any representatives of this governing body to get together to make it work better for emergency response time, such as, a year ago there was a move to privatize the EMS service. That failed but what came of that was improved service and that is the purpose too tonight, to deal with the issues that are before us and to find common ground. Once again, I am open, effective tomorrow, with the ordinance passing even if it doesn't, to address the issues and find a way to move forward. Mrs. Labow.
Mrs. Labow: Thank you Mr. Tobey. One of the things when we were talking about the safety issues, it was a given. We all knew there was a problem with EMS because that was a really bad location for them so that over and over and over again I think we need to change that immediately and see if we can make arrangements with the Budd Lake First Aid Squad and the Flanders First Aid Squad to station one bus at each location because that is a better location for a better response time. The thing I'm concerned about here is what Rob had read from the Minutes from the Safety Committee meeting was that the fire company had a concern. I went out to Flanders Netcong Road and I actually measured from the new post that is in the middle of the road because I was really concerned that with that gate and the post in the middle, how is a fire truck going to fit through there and I actually got a tape measure and I measured it. It was 25 feet. I went down to the Flanders Fire Department and measured the front of their truck. Its 22 feet so they assured me that a fire truck could get through there but now what I want to know is what is the issue with the fire department? What was there concern? Again, I'd like an answer to that question because I went there personally and asked them if their truck could get through. Does everyone understand what I'm saying with that? The truck can get through as it is. I really want to know what the issue is with the fire department.
President Tobey: Mr. Perkins, you can correct me if I'm wrong, I believe what was identified was traffic jams on 206 in responding. Is that correct?
Mr. Perkins: That is correct. Mutual aid was their concern, when they have to get up and answer anything in the ITC or in that area that coming up 206 especially during some of those traffic times is a hindrance. It would make it easier for them. Same with Goldmine but someone decided to let Toll Brothers beat up Goldmine Road so we've got thousands of dollars to try to fix that and both of the fire chiefs were adamant that they would love to have that open for access for fire safety. Now while I have the floor Mr. President, if you don't mind…
President Tobey: Yes.
Mr. Perkins: As far as the Public Safety meeting and the Minutes that anybody can read and please if you'd like a copy of the memo, contact me. I'd be more than happy to send it to you. The Public Safety Committee was asked to address it from a public safety issue. Again, it started at the request of a private citizen requesting of his governing body to look into the feasibility of opening a street to be a thru street. Anybody that tells me that this is direct access to the ITC, I want to know how you drive thru the back parking lot and down the hill in the back of the building into the Lowes because it is not a direct access into the mall. You still have to intersect with Goldmine Road and go down to the interceptor road and make a left to get into the mall.
Mayor Scapicchio: You don't Ray. There's an entrance behind Walmart straight ahead.
Mr. Perkins: It is not a direct access off Flanders Netcong Road. Again, let's get back to the safety issue.
President Tobey: Excuse me, ladies and gentleman please.
Mr. Perkins: Everybody just keeps talking because you stretch it out. I already know your position. I don't agree with your position, me, I don't. Some do. It was closed years ago probably not for a good reason as Mr. Rattner and I can tell you…
Mr. Perkins: Mr. Rattner who I will tell you has more data than anyone has come up here and told us that there was never a traffic study on Flanders Netcong Road, never was. So no one knows. These are all hypothetical's. We went to the Public Safety Committee at the request of Mr. Roman. We went and asked them, do you have safety concerns with these gates? Yes, we would unanimously like to see them removed. That's from a public safety aspect. The Council also has to address the resident's concerns, including yours. Do we open it up or do we leave it closed with something else, as Mr. Greenbaum stated, to address our public safety. It's really a two-fold issue. We are here at the request of a resident but at the request of the Council Vice President, we brought the Public Safety Committee in and asked if they had any issues. So, let's clear where the Public Safety Committee comes in. The Public Safety Committee was asked by Council Vice President, is there a public safety issue? They said, yes, there is a public safety issue. Now, I'm the liaison. Mr. Sohl is the liaison. I didn't invite any of the other Council members who came so I don't know why the rest of them didn't show up but they didn't.
Mr. Perkins: Exactly. That's good. Thank you. So, that's where we are right now. Let's not lay it all on public safety. Let's not lay it on the resident. We came at the request of a resident, same as if you had made a request for us to do something. We are talking about it. Does it still need to be investigated? Without a doubt and I agree that this thing needs to move forward and be put off until other investigations are done (8:58:00). Does it need to be open to all of the residents as Mr. Davis would like? Maybe no. From a public safety aspect we need to address it. Thank you Mr. President.
President Tobey: Thank you. To continue with the Public Portion.
Ms. Scapicchio: I'm going to speak to you because you were just speaking. So you say that you agree that the road should be open. Do you believe it should be open for everyone or just for the EMS and fire?
Mr. Perkins: Personally, I think anybody that pays taxes in this town is entitled to drive on every street that they pay tax dollars for.
Ms. Scapicchio: So why do you feel that it should be open only because we pay taxes or because the convenience of the road being opened?
Mr. Perkins: It's two-fold. Again, one because I pay taxes, two is because it may provide an easier access for the residents of this community instead of going out to congested highways to travel safely around with their children back and forth to parks, clubs, baseball, high school fields, shopping malls, etc.
Audience shout out – how about those that don't pay taxes?
President Tobey: Excuse me sir, please.
Ms. Scapicchio: Those that don't pay taxes meaning other people in surrounding towns.
Mr. Mania: Point of order, Mr. President. Allow the person that is up there to speak please.
Mr. Perkins: The other people that don't pay taxes?
Ms. Scapicchio: Yeah, like people from Roxbury, people from Ledgewood that would come through there that would use that road too that they don't pay taxes on.
Mr. Perkins: Lindsay, isn't it the same as us traveling through the streets of Roxbury where we don't pay taxes?
Ms. Scapicchio: Yeah, but we're not asking for their roads to be opened.
Mr. Perkins: Some of them are. We go through a lot of their roads. We're putting extra traffic burden on their highways aren't we?
Ms. Scapicchio: Yes, but we are not asking for their roads to be open but any way. Now I understand that we disagree but seeing everyone here and the majority, I want to say maybe three or four people here along with four people up here believe that the road should be opened. You can see that the majority don't want it opened so why do you still feel that it should be open because isn't it for what's the best for the town and the people in it and wouldn't you already believe that it's not for the best interest of the people in the town.
Mr. Perkins: I wholeheartedly agree that the majority rules, without a doubt. 23,000 residents in this Township, 200…
Audience call out – put it up for a vote.
Mr. Perkins: Now John, having a special election is not going to work…
Mr. Perkins: The bottom line being, I am one of seven. I personally believe that wherever feasible roadway traffic should be open to the residents of this community that pay taxes for ease of their commute. That's just my personal feeling.
Ms. Scapicchio: Okay.
Mr. Perkins: Whether we open it to everyone, if we do as Mr. Greenbaum or someone else has stated, we put signs out there that emergency access vehicles only, do not tres….maybe that's a solution. I don't know. I personally think that every road in this Township should be open. In all deference to the Planning Boards, I've sat on the Planning Boards, when you look at a new development, of course you try not to have access to all different shopping malls and whatnot and you try to get them out to safe egress and ingress to main highways and main thoroughfares and you try not to… Look at all the dead end roads you got just coming out of Morris Chase. That's a perfect example of not letting people come out on to the main roads like Flanders on to Mount Olive Road just outside of Pershing Estates.
President Tobey: Mr. Perkins, if I may, the Township Clerk is telling me that this can go on the ballot. Is that correct?
Mrs. Lashway: Yes, you could vote for a resolution to put it on the ballot in November if that is the way you wanted to handle it.
Mrs. Labow: It certainly could. I was going to suggest the same thing. Put it to a vote and see what the town people think.
Mr. Roman: Be careful what you ask for.
Mr. Perkins: Yeah.
Ms. Scapicchio: Well, I mean, if you are going to put it on the ballot, why are those people not here tonight. I understand that, some people can't make it but out of the people that came here tonight, look at, the majority of them feel that it is not in the best interest.
Mr. Roman: You've got to be careful Lindsay. If you put this on the ballot, you are going have…I would very at least say that most of the Township would prefer to drive down your road to get to the mall.
Mrs. Labow: I've heard it for years.
Mr. Roman: So just be very careful when you ask to put this up to a general vote.
Ms. Scapicchio: So my question is, if they feel that way, why aren't they here tonight?
Mrs. Labow: They probably weren't noticed.
Ms. Scapicchio: I didn't ask for that. What I'm saying is why can't…
Mr. Perkins: Somebody tell her that they weren't noticed.
Ms. Scapicchio: But if those people feel so strongly about it, why are they not here tonight?
President Tobey: Not everyone was made aware of it. The people in the immediate area were made aware of this meeting.
Audience interruption: Can I answer that question? Was there a mailer made?
President Tobey: Sir, please. Your name and address for the record.
Stanley Borowski, 57 Woodbine Ave.: Was there a mailer sent out to certain residents?
Mrs. Labow: Yes. Right.
Mr. Borowski: And not to other residents.
Mr. Mania: Yes.
Mr. Borowski: So, to whom was the mailer sent to?
Mrs. Labow: Just the people on that street in that area.
Mrs. Lashway: The residents of Flanders Netcong Road.
Ms. Scapicchio: I drive down the road every day obviously. I live on it. I see people riding bikes. I see people walking. I see people walking their dogs. When I see someone on the street, I move over and pass them…slow down, move over and pass them. If we have more traffic with people from the town who are using the road, people who are from surrounding towns using the road to get to the ITC or to get to 206, however, that's going to be more traffic and it's going to make it dangerous for the people walking on it and for the people driving on it. So we obviously need to come up with something that if you do open it, widen the roads, putting sidewalks on the roads because this road has been closed for 10 or so years and people have been walking on it so now it will hinder them being able to do that. It's going to make it even more dangerous in my opinion.
President Tobey: Mr. Perkins, you had…in your conversation or statement identified about it being on the ballot. Is that something you want to move forward with?
Mr. Perkins: At this point, Mr. President, I'm not in favor of putting on the ballot. I think that…the most concern is obviously the residents that are directly impacted by whatever decision we make and that's these ladies and gentlemen that are here. So hearing their voice holds a lot more weight with me than having it on a ballot for people that may or may not ride down this street and as I said, we're here to somehow come up with a compromise to find out what's best for them, the other residents and their safety.
President Tobey: Even if that compromise is certainly over the next few days which hopefully will be the case. Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: I have to agree with Mr. Perkins on this particular issue. The fact that the room is filled necessarily with people who are against reopening the road says nothing about what the majority of the Township ultimately would vote on. If you put this out to a vote, I have no doubt that overwhelmingly, the Town would vote in favor of opening up the road. That's why we have elected officials in town because there are issues that are dependent upon things that people who are not involved in the process don't really understand and that's why we're here to make that kind of decision because you could pass anything in town. People come out, Colleen and I have had this discussion many times. People come out and voice their opinions strongly when it affects them directly and ultimately, people who have an interest in something will not come unless they have a very very strong interest but that doesn't mean that they don't have an interest. Now Mr. Davis is here with a smaller group of people but I would venture to guess that overall in the town that Mr. Davis's position is probably the majority position by far in terms of opening the road. We've discussed it. Someone early on said, you know, how come this came up now out of the blue. We've been discussing this issue for years.
Mrs. Labow: For years.
Mr. Greenbaum: It always comes up at election time when we walk through the town but having said that, we understand the issue about what's happening with this road. We are sitting here listening to all of the people. We've read all of the emails and so we are really in the best position to make to make this decision and even if you put it out to referendum, we'd still have to make the decision because I can guarantee you two things. If you open up that road, you are going to have a lot more traffic on it. You put it out to a vote; you are going to have a majority vote in favor of opening up the road. Those are the two things I can guarantee you. I think we all agree that if you open up that road, there will be additional traffic on that road.
Mr. Perkins: Especially yourself.
Mr. Greenbaum: I will be on that road.
President Tobey: Let's continue with the Public Portion. Once again whether it move forward or fails, I hope that there's going to be follow up meetings to address the issues at hand. Mrs. Labow.
Mrs. Labow: I just want, Lindsay had mentioned before about when you go down Flanders Netcong Road to Goldmine Road and we talked about it. You make a right, you go to link road. They are actually correct. It is, to the left you can to the back of Walmart. I looked at the Google Earth Map thing to actually get an overview to see just what it all looks like. That was also one of the recommendations that I didn't bring up before, I think that entrance to Walmart should definitely be closed because that does give a little bit more and force people down to link road and come around the other way but I don't know if that's a possibility or not but that is true. There is definitely behind Walmart…
Mr. Greenbaum: It probably causes another safety issue if you start closing off exits out of the shopping center.
Mrs. Labow: That's true, out of the shopping center, yeah I guess so. Okay, I just wanted to bring that up.
President Tobey: Can we continue? Lindsay, please.
Ms. Scapicchio: Just one more thing I have, the woman who spoke before about her daughter and how she doesn't want her to go on 206. I remember, I've had my license for five years, when I first got my license I wasn't allowed to drive on Route 80 because my mom thought it was too dangerous. That means I couldn't go to the Rockaway Mall. That was her rule. So if you don't want your daughter traveling on 206 or you don't want your drivers, they shouldn't be allowed to do that based on your rule. It shouldn't be opening a road for the convenience just so that she can go there. I mean, my sister, I was a new driver, last year she's only had her license for a year. Same thing, she's not allowed to travel on certain roads because my parents feel that it is more dangerous so, that's it.
Mr. Roman: That sounds like you would be in favor of opening up the road because that way you wouldn't have to go down to 206.
Ms. Scapicchio: No, no, I'm saying that when I first got my license I wasn't allowed to travel on Route 80 because it was too dangerous so I didn't travel on it.
Mr. Roman: I understand but just from what you were saying, if you wanted to make sure that you did not get on 206 and you wanted to go to the Walmart, you would want that gate open.
Ms. Scapicchio: Yeah, what I'm saying is that if she doesn't want her daughter traveling on 206, she should tell her daughter she can't travel on 206 which means that if there is no other way to get to ITC, then she can't go there either driving by herself, someone should go with her, her mother should drive her. I just feel like, you know, that's not an excuse for someone not driving on the road.
Mr. Greenbaum: Ultimately, if you open up that road, the person who is driving down that road is going to end up on 46 or 206 or 80 so it's kind of not really what we are talking about here.
Ms. Scapicchio: If you open it up, it's going to be more traffic any way.
Mr. Greenbaum: What we are talking about here, as Mr. Perkins explained, are two distinct issues. One is a safety issue and one is a convenience issue and they are brought up by two different entities as explained by Mr. Perkins. One of them was addressed by the Safety Committee and one of them was raised by Mr. Davis. That's what we are talking about here.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Ms. Scapicchio: Thank you.
Betsy Scapicchio, 124 Flanders Netcong Rd.: I wasn't going to speak tonight but if anybody knows me, I can't they know I can't keep my mouth shut but anyway. If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Roman, did Mr. Davis come up to the Council first and say he wanted the road open and then you asked if there was a safety issue?
Mr. Roman: Yes.
Mrs. Scapicchio: With the EMT. Well didn't the safety issue come up before with EMT, the Police and the fire before Mr. Davis mentioned that he wanted the road open?
Mr. Roman: Because nobody has ever brought that up.
Mrs. Scapicchio: Because it's never been a problem.
Mr. Roman: There might be a problem but if they never bring it up, having been in attendance at that Safety Committee, I can tell you when the issue came up it was more like, it's about time we open up this road. You know, we've been wanting this thing opened up for the longest and we know, it's never been brought up because of, you know, other issues.
Mrs. Scapicchio: If it was such a problem, I think they would have brought it up. I think you went searching for things, Mr. Roman…
Mr. Roman: I can't say whether they would or not.
Mrs. Scapicchio: Yes, to make it easier to get the road open. That's just my opinion. I've been living here for almost 35 years.
Mr. Roman: I would greatly disagree with your assessment of the situation.
Mrs. Scapicchio: Well you don't have to agree with me. That's okay. I've been living here for almost 35 years. I've been living on that street. I have four daughters I've raised. My oldest is 29. When she was 17 years old, that road was open, there was no mall. She could not pull out on to my street. I would not allow her to back out of my driveway. She could not pull out of my driveway because of the traffic. That was before the mall. Okay, once they put the mall in and they shut the road back down, it was like it was when we moved here in 1977, nice and quiet. You could walk down the street. I didn't worry about, with the baby strollers, I used to visit the Spino's down at the end of the street. I will not let my children walk on that road now, now, and the road is not even open and when you drive down that road, there is no shoulder. I wouldn't walk my dogs on that street because there are absolutely no lines in certain areas of that road and when they plow the road in the winter, and then there is only one lane. There was so much snow this past winter, there was no side of the road. So even if you wanted to walk down or if the kids had to go to school because now there is no busing for the children, thank goodness my daughter is 17 years old and can drive to school now because I don't know what I would have done if she had to walk to school. There's no street lights, there's no sidewalks, there's no nothing. So you're expecting our kids to be unsafe for the convenience of driving to CS Gymnastics. I went there with my daughters too and sure I'd love to drive down. I'd love to drive down my street and shoot in to the Walmart but you know what? Not at the risk of hurting my family and my neighbors. It's just not right. If you have to drive down my street and out, it's much less than what you have to do driving down your street and down on to 206. Besides the fact, if you go down Drakesdale, there's a traffic light. Okay, there's no traffic lights on Flanders Netcong Road. The speed limit is 40 and we've been trying to get it lowered for how many years now, Dave? Thirty? They will not lower the speed limit on that residential road. So, don't tell me you are going to lower the speed limit. You are going to put speed bumps in. You are not going to allow other people down the road. This is a bunch of you know what. It's crazy. This is all crazy. We've got two issues going on here. One is Mr. Convenience over here and then the other one is this make up thing where there is now a safety issue where there never was before. I don't understand. I think this is a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer's money and it's absolutely ridiculous.
Mrs. Scapicchio: …Drive on 206, I don't have a problem with that. There's traffic lights. It's busy. I have a business in Flanders. It's down on Bartley Road. Sure, sometimes when 206 is bad, I cut through Tinc Road. I go down Tinc Road. I do it too and more and more people want to know how to get from 206 to Bartley where I have my business and these are all clients of mine. I tell them there is no way to get there. You're just going to have to shoot down 206 and turn down onto Bartley Road. That's just the way it is. Sure, it would be great for all of us to be able to get to where we want to go in five minutes but you know what? It ain't gonna happen. So I think we have to really sit down and figure out what is the real issue here. Is it one person here who is inconvenienced or is it the people on Flanders Netcong Road who need safety on our streets.
Mayor Scapicchio: She hollers like that at me at home.
Mr. Roman: I was just nervous, she was looking at me.
Michael McMullen, 177 Flanders Netcong Road: I think I'm a little different here in that I haven't lived in Flanders for 30 years. I've lived here for 13 months. My biggest point when I got the first thing in my mailbox was, I bought a house on no outlet. I purposely bought a house on no outlet. I'm guilty of it. I cut up Tinc all the time. I come out of Shoprite, that's how I go home. I think the one difference and everyone's been saying, what's the difference? The difference is, I know people who live on Tinc, and I know people who live on Cory. They didn't buy a house on a dead end. They bought a house on a cut through road. I'll tell you, we spoke about, I've heard about people who say, well people from Roxbury aren't necessarily going to do that and people from Chester aren't going to do that. I'm at Roxbury Mall and I'm on Main Street in Chester constantly and I never hit Route 206 other than the fact that I come down my road, I cross over Main Street and I make a left on to Hillside or I come down my road, I cross over Main Street and I go past the golf course to end and make a right and end up by the Public House. I never take that road on purpose, on purpose. So the thought of people coming up from Chester or coming from Randolph or Succasunna, excuse me, not using our road to accommodate themselves, I don't see how that couldn't happen. On top of the fact that coming home at night if I come up Route 10, it already takes me 10 to 15 minutes to get to the Main Street light. What's it going to be now with 15% which if we are figuring 15%, I think it was said like 30,000 cars, that's 5,000 cars. Five thousand extra cars on our roads and let's say even 20% make it on to our street, that's 1,000 cars on a Saturday down our road rather than what I see now which is probably less than 40 or 50. I asked for this to be done. I understand you guys do have the power to do this. I understand your concerns. I really do. I've got to be honest with a lot of people in this room, I disagree with jeering. This is our system. This is what makes us great. I almost feel for you guys because you are the vast minority in this room, vast minority and some people on the panel are as well but I think the reality is someone like myself who moved into this Town, moved on to a road, researched the road, decided to stay in this Town rather than, move into this Town rather than to go into Long Valley or Succasunna or any other town surrounding us, I could have moved anywhere. I love the no outlet. I love the country road feel of it and I love where I live and I'm fortunate that I have a 200 foot driveway where my kids don't really necessarily have to go out in the street. We have taken walks out into the street. I probably wouldn't do it again. With that road closed I probably wouldn't do it again. To bring even my two boys who are ten and seven, I have a daughter who is three who can be in a stroller if I need her to be. Ten and seven, those two with the dog and just the normal traffic from the developments at the end, which I knew where there. That's fine; I can't do anything about that. I think this, ya know, I have to say it. I overheard someone. They were having a conversation as I was standing there and the question was, well if you can't go on 206 you can go up to 46 and the comment was, why would I? I live right there and I think that's really what this is mostly about. Why would I, I live right there. I'm with Mr. Greenbaum, I'm with everyone else in this room whether they agree with me or not. That road opens, that's how I'm going to Lowes, that's how I'm going to Walmart. I'm not going to 206 any longer. I don't want to be able to do that to be quite honest with you. I have seen that, Mrs. Labow said a few times, I've seen that gate smashed a couple of times, minimum, in the year I've lived there. So obviously, if a Police officer needs to get through there, if a fire truck needs to get through there, they certainly can. I don't see how that would stop them from getting through there. I don't know who did it. I mean it could have been a car. It could have been anyone. I'm making an assumption that it was an emergency vehicle that had to get through our road. It could have been, hell, it could have been me but I know it wasn't. Again, I understand other people's concerns. I am with Mr. Greenbaum. I think this is a big convenience issue to a lot of people. You know, and this is going to be a very unpopular thing living on that road. I'm driving down the Parkway this weekend and I'm sitting in traffic going to the shore and I look to the right and there is an opening and it says, official use only and that stopped me. That got me to stop. Do I feel that a motorized gate, when I go to South Carolina and see my in-laws and you can't get into their development without going through a motorized gate with a little sticker? That's all it is, it's a sticker. It's not a clicker. It's not something someone can forget at the fire house. It's not any of that. You can put a sticker on the side each one of our emergency vehicles and as they get 20 or 30 feet away, that gate opens instantly. There's no delay. Why aren't we looking at other options? Why does it have to be, we're going to open this to get to, how I feel, to essentially get to Lowes. On Saturday morning it will take me three minutes to get to Lowes. It takes me eight, ten. I'm okay with that. I don't go to the light on 206. I do make a left on to Goldmine Road and come in the back way. Someone had brought up before, while there is no direct access, I make it direct access. I come off of Goldmine Road. I go up 206, come off of Goldmine Road and go in to Lowes that way and you know what? If I have to go to Walmart, I go behind everything else and come out that side of it. There is a sign there. It's not an official use sign. It's not anything declaring. It's a no thru sign or something like that. There have been times where, I should say I do that. I have done it. I don't know if there is a new sign there. I don't know if it was the first time I recognized it a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure.
Audience interruption: In case you are wondering, there's a cop right there.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: I come up International Drive, I make a right by the Wendy's and then I go up behind the Pet Smart, I go behind the building right behind Walmart back out to Goldmine Road and I'll make a right turn on to 206 there.
Audience interruption: There's no thru traffic behind Pet Smart.
Mr. Greenbaum: I know there isn't. You know what, I'll get a ticket eventually but that's how I go.
Mr. McMullen: And I think we live in a world of convenience.
Mr. Greenbaum: I don't disagree with you. You know what? You open the road, there's going to be a lot more traffic on the road. There's no question in my mind. People are going to use it. It's just a question of whether or not the majority of the Council feels that that's the right decision to make having heard all of the issues that are before us.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Jessica Mignanelli, 88 Goldmine Rd.: Good evening. Now I know that my neighbor has brought up some of the dangers of Goldmine Road. I'd like to kind of reiterate that and tell like my personal point of view. I've lived here, we moved here this past year and we specifically moved here because it was a dead end with a nice quiet neighborhood where we can feel free to like live in peace, raise our children, whatnot but I believe the bottom line is that Goldmine Road reopening would be a very dangerous situation. Number one, it's a very very narrow road. It's barely suitable for two way traffic. Now I can only imagine what kind of dangers would be present if that road is reopened especially because our houses are literally right within feet of the road so there's even no room to even expand the road to be more suitable for two way traffic.
President Tobey: Excuse me, can I just clarify? We are not discussing Goldmine Road this evening so that's not even on the Agenda.
Mr. Greenbaum: Not yet any way.
Mrs. Mignanelli: I thought that would affect Goldmine Road?
Mr. Greenbaum: No, just the part of Goldmine Road that is not blocked off already that has traffic on it already. It doesn't mean, it doesn't mean that next week we won't be picking up Goldmine Road.
Mrs. Mignanelli: Alright, basically, the bottom line is we've heard a lot of the concerns and I just wanted to voice my own. Thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you very much.
Mike Jacisin, 9 Southwind Dr.: You all ask for a different perspective on the issue whether it's the safety issue or the through traffic issue as we've heard a couple of times tonight. I have three issues; well three financial considerations I'd like this Township Council to consider as you kind of chew on this issue. Number one is the grading on Flanders Netcong Road needs some repair especially by the home where the Blue Atlas property is. Even with the brief rain storm we had this evening, there's puddling that goes on in the road so I want you to consider the cost for number one, fixing the grading because once it floods, your gonna have one lane to go through. Number two is there a section of Flanders Netcong Road that really needs to be resurfaced because it hasn't been used in 11 years, in particular the road right by, the section right by Westwind and Flanders Netcong Road needs some repair. I know that because I walk every morning on that section and Number three, Mrs. Labow, I think you raised this issue about the intersection with Drakestown and so forth. I mean that intersection, that's, that's, it's bad yeah and I think the Township is going to need to consider rethinking, with all of the volume of traffic, that intersection. So three issues I wanted to bring to this Council's attention that will cost money that frankly, I don't think the Township has nor do I want to see my taxes increased to address those issues. Thank you for your time.
President Tobey: Thank you. Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: You raise some good points in terms of the financial issues but there is another financial issue. I would imagine that every single person who lives down Flanders Netcong Road and any of the adjacent neighborhoods, some of which are the highest neighborhoods in terms of the taxes that we receive, would probably have very good tax appeal issues in terms diminution of the value of their property and would certainly, or likely, be entitled to a tax reduction in the value. So you're talking about additional tax dollars that might be lost by opening up the road at that point in time.
Joachim Lion, 11 Southwind Dr.: Good evening.
President Tobey: Excuse me, could you repeat your name please?
Mr. Lion: Joachim Lion, 11 Southwind Drive.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Mr. Lion: I guess you know we have thirty arguments about the travel safety or traffic safety risks that you know the residents along Flanders Netcong Road would be exposed to. I want to talk about another risk. There's a gentleman here in the room that has been robbed twice before this road was closed and right now this whole area, you have to repurpose it. Over ten years now we have two large developments here that maybe 1,000 people or more that live there and it is very safe. So if that road is being opened that exposes, of course, that whole area to increased crime because now you have a two minute escape route or come and go route to Route 80. So that I guess is pretty unacceptable and at best what it means is, you know, you have to have more Police presence which costs all taxpayers more. I think not only for the residents in that area it's unacceptable to have that increased risk, I think it's also not a good PR for Mount Olive as a Township to have an increase crime risks and these areas would be pretty much the closest to the highway if that road is reopened. Thanks.
Stanley Borowski, 57 Woodbine Ave.: I was hoping to be at the end since I'm probably in the minority. I'm for opening the road. One of the statements somebody had made that our roads aren't the safest. I mean if we were to make our roads safe, we should close a whole bunch of them especially Flanders Road. I mean if you walk an unsafe road, there's no wide corridors just kids jogging on Flanders Road. The road should be made safer. If we are gonna close a road, we should close a lot more roads than just that road but any way. It is a safety issue. The one thing I want to mention in terms of safety, it's not safety vehicles, Police cars or ambulances heading to ITC. How about the right at ITC? You could get out to Pershing Estates where I live across from Turkey Brook Park. You have the other scenario. Also, the safety issue, Drakesdale Road during the winter, when it snows, there's cars getting stuck there. You can't go up that hill. There's times when I'm going in the left lane to go around the car that is stuck going up that hill. During the winter, going down that hill too to reach 206. Flanders Netcong Road would provide that safe flat road access to 206 to 80. It makes it a safer road being opened.
Bill Asbury, 5 Fennimore Ct.: Good evening. I actually had no intention to come up here and speak but sitting back there it is kind of frustrating actually. My morning started early in DC this morning. To get back here I took an early train. As a current member of the community and certainly a voting, a voting member of this community who elected officials like yourselves to use good judgment to represent the majority, do the best for the most good and you're right, putting this on a voting ballot probably doesn't play out well. I think we all know that and what has been frustrating is we are sitting here talking about everyone's interest for convenience yet it was proposed I guess, and I'm confused, it was proposed for convenience but then it turned to enhancing the safety of our people from an emergency services perspective. Is that correct? So what are we here to talk about, to pass an ordinance for convenience or to pass an ordinance to look at options at helping our emergency services gain better access to the people in this community who pay the taxes for that? I'm quite confused what all this is about. I'm sorry, Mr. Roman is it?
Mr. Roman: Yes.
Mr. Asbury: You had said that it was brought to your attention by someone for convenience. It then went to the Safety Board, the Safety Board said, yeah, we've been wanting something done with this for a long time. Does the Safety Board not have access to you all on a regular basis to bring something up that is important to the people of this community? I'm sorry to interrupt. You also said that it didn't go anywhere in the past because of other issues. What other issues?
Mr. Roman: The reason I personally wanted the Safety Committee because I'd rather see a letter come out of it. It's a little bit different than speaking to individual members of the Safety Committee saying, yeah we'd like that. It's quite different than having them at a meeting send out a letter to Council saying we would like to see this opened up for safety reasons and it was brought up by a resident. I never had any intention to open it up, never thought that it was ever problem because it never came up to me but when a resident comes up with any particular issue, it would behoove us to at least look into it which is exactly what we are doing because how else would it appear that somebody comes up and says, hey, we'd like to open the road and we just say, yeah, yeah, we're not going to discuss it, we're not going to discuss it. I'm pretty sure the Chronicle would have a field day with that.
Mr. Asbury: Fair enough, fair enough. So is it, is it up for discussion? Is it being considered because it's a convenience issue for everyone in this room to get to ITC quicker and easier or is it an emergency services issue?
Mr. Roman: It is my intention that that road should only be opened up for Police, fire and EMS and whatever emergency may…
Mr. Asbury: Great.
Mr. Roman: It is my intention, I have never, I've had personal conversations with plenty of people in this room and not once have I ever even indicated that I would like to see that opened up just so everybody can have a quicker access to Lowes and yes, if it were to be opened up to the public, yes, I'd take that road too. I'd be a fool not to.
Mr. Asbury: And so is the ordinance that needs to be voted on to further discussion around options for safety and emergency services or to further the conv….if it passes, it opens?
President Tobey: No, I'm going to respond to that. If the ordinance were to pass this evening, it's not to say that there cannot be a solution that is identified and put into play, therefore, not fully opening the road moving forward.
Mr. Asbury: So it would then be in the Council's hands to come up with those solutions?
President Tobey: Both the Council and the Administration together.
Mr. Asbury: And the Administration? And I guess my plea is because ultimately that's where we are going to end up. It's going to end up on a vote. You are going to make a decision whether it is your personal opinion or representing the majority of the people most affected by this decision and we elected you as leaders of this community to use good judgment, to make the best decision and yeah, there's a lot of people not in this room that could be affected from a convenience standpoint. A lot of people in this room will be affected by a safety standpoint should that MI occur at a bad time and someone needs to get to them. But I haven't heard yet of a very solid plan as to those options outside of just opening the roads. So please use good judgment I guess is what I'm asking when we get to that decision and let's come up with the most, I mean there's people in this room that have invested a lot of money. You're fully aware that the High School track runs on that road, right?
Everyone on this Committee is fully aware that the High School team runs on that road.
Mr. Perkins: Yes, we are.
President Tobey: Even if the ordinance is defeated this evening, once again, there is a recommendation in writing by the Safety Committee. If the ordinance is defeated, I would hope that the Administration would still take that recommendation and research it further.
Mr. Asbury: That's fine. Obviously we are going to invest; you'll invest the tax dollars how you see best fit. You'll just raise my taxes if you need more money to do another research, another plan. I'm one of those people, I guess, that pay those higher taxes and don't want to see the devalue of the home so the bigger thing is the safety on that road. I've seen it. I've driven on it. Kids walk on that road. Have you all driven down there and watched them walk their dog? Have you watched the children walk on that road? Have you seen in the morning when those kids are walking to High School? I leave out my neighborhood very early. Those kids walk to High School because we took the budget away that provided the busing and now we are going to open a road, as every one of you just admitted, you're going to use and it's your best intention to do the right thing, you are going to be in a rush, we all are, be in a rush because it's shorter now and this speeds it up. I don't have to leave ten minutes in advance. I can leave at three minutes in advance and some people are going to get hurt at the end of this day so I just think we need to really implore upon you to use good judgment for what we voted you to do.
President Tobey: Thank you very much. Mr. Davis, you know what? I'm going to respectfully ask, we'd like to close it to the public at this time. Please, you haven't been up.
Debbie Carter, 114 Flanders Netcong Rd.: I did take time from two jobs working seven days a week to pay the high taxes in Mount Olive. It's the first time I'm getting up to say something. I just feel that you should all be aware of some facts, the reality. For the 11 years that this has been closed and there is a weight limit on our street and yes it is a no outlet on our street and I can tell you at least once or twice a year and I'm not outside often working seven days a week where there is a garbage truck, a contractor's truck, a pickup truck full of garbage that goes flying down my street, finds out that there is a dead end, turns around and comes flying back. That's the reality. I think anybody in our neighborhood could verify that for you and the gentleman before also said, the road condition is not in good shape on Flanders Netcong Road. There needs to be some investment put on that and that's with hardly that many people going on it compared to if it was open and I do have a question now probably for Councilman Perkins. If it's a safety issue because of the dead end, are you proposing that all of the dead ends in Mount Olive be opened for public safety feature?
Mr. Perkins: Obviously that's not the point.
Mrs. Carter: Because Flanders Netcong Road, on the other side where Fla-Net is, the campsite, that's a dead end road also.
Mr. Perkins: I understand that.
Mrs. Carter: So would you open that also for safety reasons?
Mr. Perkins: No, and you must have missed the first part when I said the Public Safety Committee admitted that opening that gate on Flanders Netcong Road with the intersection of ITC South by the trailer park was not in the best interest of the Township so no, it's not every road. It's only two roads that they are looking at. Tonight we are specifically talking about Flanders Netcong Road.
Mrs. Carter: I don't really see the difference between the two ends because they both have the same amount of outlets so, you know, that's my opinion. If you have every gone there and you've seen the lone garbage trucks that do come flying down our road and come flying back and that is with the weight limit sign on there. It does not stop them so I just wanted you all to be aware of that.
Mr. Perkins: I appreciate that and that is a good point so even opening the road is not going to make any difference because you already have that.
Mrs. Carter: Right because previously the Council has put in as many safety features as possible such as the weight limit and as you know, it doesn't stop a lot of people. They still continue to go down it.
Mr. Perkins: And then they find out they can't go and they turn around and come back.
Mrs. Carter: And they come flying right back. I could stand there and I could tell you, like you know, a couple of minutes later here they come back again because a lot, if you go on your GPS, it doesn't say that it is dead ended there so that's why a lot of people come down there, find out and go back.
Mrs. Labow: Some GPS's it doesn't tell you.
Mr. Perkins: It's like double the traffic.
Mrs. Carter: Right, so I hope the Council would consider just relocating the ambulance to a better location.
Mr. Perkins: Thank you.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: I have a motion to amend the current ordinance which is on the table for this evening. I would like to amend the ordinance to remove para…
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum, one second. At this time I'm actually going to close the meeting to the public. Please continue.
Mr. Greenbaum: I have a motion to remove the fourth, fifth and sixth Whereas clauses and go right to the Now, Therefore be it Ordained by the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive, County of Morris and State of New Jersey as follows: get rid of Section one and Section two; put in a new Section one which simply says that the Township shall install gates agreeable to the majority of the Public Safety Committee for use by emergency vehicles.
Mr. Walsh: Mr. Greenbaum, can you repeat which whereas's you would strike?
Mr. Greenbaum: Four, five and six. You'd go one, two and three, the last one that would be in is Whereas the Township Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to reopen this road and agreed there is a public safety having the road closed all agreeing that Flanders Netcong Road should again be a thru street to Goldmine Road so that would have to be amended as well and it would be amended to reflect what the Public Safety Committee actually voted on which is, voted unanimously that there is a public safety issue in terms of having the road closed – exactly what language they put in here which is, that the above mentioned gates pose a safety concern to the fire, Police and EMS agencies.
Mrs. Labow: I think it is too many changes.
Mr. Roman: Rob, I would have to assume that then we just leave it exactly the way it is because there are gates now.
Mr. Greenbaum: No, the gates would have to be changed to reflect the majority of the Public Safety Committee agreeing that the gates are accessible for them to use the roadway. If they can open them, why is there a safety issue?
Mr. Roman: As I've state before, I for one would prefer to see no gates, anything that would make it harder for them to come during your adverse situations, whatever, but with signage for official use only, with a heavy fine if anybody were to be caught coming through so that would be my intention whatsoever but if it's the majority opinion of this Council to just keep it with gates, I would obviously have to go with the majority and go with that.
President Tobey: Excuse me, Fred; do you have some direction that you want to offer?
Mr. Semrau: Yes, you know, if you are going to just address from a public safety standpoint, some changes as you suggested Councilman Greenbaum, that really would be, can be made by way of a motion of the majority of the Council just to direct the Administration to take that action and then under those circumstances then you would simply just defeat the ordinance if that be the case if there was that consensus.
Mr. Greenbaum: I make that motion.
Mrs. Labow: I'm going to second that.
President Tobey: It's been moved and seconded.
Mr. Roman: Can we reiterate the motion again?
Mr. Greenbaum: Directing the Administration to take action with respect to the safety issue presented by the gates at the end of Flanders Netcong Road.
President Tobey: Now do we need to do a roll call on that and then on the ordinance?
Mr. Semrau: Yes.
President Tobey: Okay so a roll call on the motion that's on the table please.
ROLL CALL: Passed by the majority with Mr. Mania and Mr. Perkins voting No
Mr. Semrau: So that motion carries. So that would be the direction of the governing body to the Administration and now you have the ordinance in front of you.
President Tobey: Roll call please.
Mr. Roman: The ordinance as originally presented?
President Tobey: As presented.
Mr. Roman: As originally…
Mrs. Labow: Tonight.
Mrs. Lashway: Introduced.
Mrs. Labow: Introduced tonight.
ROLL CALL: Defeated, Mr. Mania and Mr. Perkins Voted Yes
Mr. Semrau: So that motion is defeated.
Mayor Scapicchio: And let me assure the Council that I will work with the Police, the Emergency Management Coordinator and the Safety Committee to come up with a solution that satisfies all parties.
President Tobey: Mayor, thank you. A couple of things for the public, the ordinance has been defeated and there is a motion for the Administration to work with the Public Safety Committee to improve the response time. I would like to thank everyone for coming out this evening. As I stated earlier, I stand behind what I said that this is what makes the system work. Everyone took time out of their schedule and thank you very much. I'll accept a motion to adjourn.
Motion to adjourn made and seconded. All in favor, the meeting was adjourned at 9:42 pm.
Phil Tobey, Council President
I, Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk of the Township of Mount Olive do hereby certify that the foregoing Minutes is a true and correct copy of the Minutes approved at a legally convened meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council duly held on August 9, 2011.
Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk