March 19, 2013 Township Council Minutes

The Workshop Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to order at 7:00 pm by President Labow with the Pledge of Allegiance. 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE & MOMENT OF REFLECTION

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.

ROLL CALL

Present:          Mr. Ferrante, Mr. Nicastro, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Roman, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Staszak and Mr. Mania

Absent:           None
                       
Also Present:  Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk; Fred Semrau and Jeff Pasek, Township Attorneys; Sherry Maniscalco, CFO; Sean Canning, Business Administrator

Presentation:  Route 46 Chevrolet, owner Adam Barish presented Ice Diving suits to the Budd Lake Fire Department. Chief Brad Evans said that the suit is a marine survival suit used for ice rescue. They have come at the right time and saved a lot of money.

Discussion:

  • Old Flanders Area Sewers

President Labow explained in 2008 some residents had come to the Council requesting the sewer line. The majority of the residents at the time did not want the sewer line. In April 2012, the DEP decided to pass legislation that if you have a cesspool and you pass title or refinance, you have to put in a septic system or hook into sewers if available. As a realtor, this is very concerning to her. Mr. Canning and Mr. Wilpert did research and identified 15 homes that we know have cesspools in that area. There are another 12 that we don’t know about. Additionally she is aware of some homes that are also having issues with their septic systems. In November we received a letter from a resident who requested the sewer line in old Flanders. St. Elizabeth’s is having issues with having to put in another septic system. The Methodist Church at the other end of old Flanders has a cesspool and will need to put in a new septic. So we decided to try and find out what it would cost to run the sewer line down. Mr. Canning did a lot of research. Mr. Rattner helped him as well. She said that this meeting is hopefully going to address some of the misinformation that is out there.

Mr. Canning, Business Administrator said that he was tasked in December to update the CMX feasibility study on sewering. It’s a report from 2008. There was a general sentiment by the residents who had come forth that the survey and the feasibility that were put out were not transparent and giving everyone all of the options. He has reviewed the study and met with the professionals and the end result was the letter sent out in January inviting everyone to this meeting. After tonight’s meeting a survey will be sent out. There are 107 properties that have been identified and 33 are located within the Highlands Preservation Area. There are two questions on the survey. The first question is if all 107 properties were to be sewered, would you as the property owner be in favor or not in favor with a possible assessment spread out over 20 years. The second question is, if the 33 properties in the Highlands cannot have sewers, would you still want have the sewers based upon the assessment over 20 years. The Mayor’s office has come out opposed to this project because of the high cost.

Mr. Buczynski, Township Engineer said that the study was done by CMX which is a firm he used to work for. Various alternatives were looked at. The least expensive at the time back in 2008 was Alternate 3 which did not include servicing St. Elizabeths. Alternative 4 in the report included a pump station that would serve St. Elizabeths but it would also assist in serving another portion of the Flanders area. Beside the 103 homes, they also looked at the Mountain Ave./North Road and Beaver Lane/Clark Ave. By having a pump station at St. Elizabeths in the future we could serve the Beaver Lane/Clark Ave. That was 20% more than Alternate 3. In 2008, Alternate 3 was roughly $2.3 million. Alternate 4 would serve the entire system and it was $2.8 million in rough numbers. We upgraded those numbers to present day numbers with the understanding that if this project gets approved, it probably wouldn’t go to construction in 2015 or 2016. That explains the increase since 2008. It’s a complex project with stream crossings, railroad crossings and some areas in the Highlands Preservation Area. For the Highlands area we would have to show that there has been a constant failure of septics in the past and that it is a health and safety issue. All the alternatives were basically a gravity system. One of the reasons why that was looked at is due to the fact that there isn’t a high water table and there isn’t much rock. When they built Flanders Crossing they went down 18-19 feet and didn’t hit water. Mr. Rattner asked him to look at a cheaper type of system which would be a low pressure system which would have grinder pumps at each of the homes. Normally it is a 20-25% savings. All we have done now is a concept plan. No test borings have been done. We haven’t looked at the elevations. We would probably do grinder pumps and gravity to make it more economical but you are still looking at $39,000 per home before investigating any types of loans. If you go with a low pressure system, it could go down to $29,000 per home but these numbers are just conservative estimates. He said that if he does get to the design stage he will be better able give a final number.

Mr. Wilpert, Health Officer & Health Dept. Director:  Said that his staff looked at the expanded area and there are 208 septic systems in the area and surrounding area. Since 1990, 59 have been upgraded to some degree. They went back three years and there were seven repairs that were performed. Two were for additions, three failed for resale (done by outside inspection firms) and the last two were upgrades. They looked at the area behind Ashley Farms and it is high and dry. The soil tests done between Main, Hillside and Park is also dry. No water table issues there. The soil at the United Methodist Church, they went down 13 feet back in 1989 and it’s been working ever since. He explained about the three year septic maintenance program. He spoke about the new DEP rules regarding cesspools and resales and said that it does not apply when property is transferred within the family.

Mr. Marchione, Tax Assessor: Gave an overview of the evaluation process. If a local improvement benefits your property, you are required to pay for the cost of the benefit. A special assessment is applied to the land only. Typically, a firm familiar with sewer assessments is hired to determine the value of the benefit received for each property owner. The benefit is defined as the increase in the value of the land affected by the difference between the market value before the improvement and the market value after. Some things that may be considered are the timing of the project. Other considerations are lot size, soil type, zoning, the age and the condition of the existing septic, and the Highlands. The firm would come up with some type of valuation for each property owner and upon preliminary completion of the assessment calculation, a  public hearing would be offered to give everyone a chance to hear what the valuations are. Then a final report is submitted to the governing body for adoption and confirmation. Any appeals to the valuation must be made to the Superior Court within 30 days of confirmation of the assessment. When the cost of the improvement exceeds the sum of the benefits conferred, the excess must be imposed on the public at large through either general taxation or some other legally permissible way. If the project cost $5 million and the firm determines that the collective benefit of each of the residents only hits $1 million, then the Township would have to pick up the other $4 million.

Christine Marion, Morris County Planning Board Planning Director: Brought a map of the area. She explained the County’s involvement in the wastewater management process which began in 2008. DEP adopted new wastewater management rules where the County essentially becomes a facilitator for developing the County wastewater management plan. County staff worked with the municipal officials and professionals and identified where sewer service area would be permitted in accordance with DEP rules. The way these rules work is that you cannot extend sewer service areas where there are wetlands, riparian buffers or habitats of rare and endangered species. They worked with DEP mapping to locate undeveloped or vacant properties which then would have to removed from the sewer service area. To date, there is a draft map. It’s down in DEP right now waiting to be signed. The sewer area being discussed is split between the Highlands preservation and planning areas. When the Highlands Act was signed into law, it removed all of the sewer service areas from the preservation area where nothing had been constructed. So if there was a future sewer service area on undeveloped property, that was eliminated. There is only sewer service area in the preservation area where there is actually flow, someone is actually using it. Everything else was wiped out. Right now, most of the Old Flanders area is within the draft sewer service area. If you decide not to sewer it, then she would recommend that it be removed from the sewer service area map. DEP rules also require that if there is capacity available, and you are in a sewer service area, you must hook up. So right now it is on a draft map. That’s what is proposed. Most of the existing residences are shown on the sewer service area map. The only ones that aren’t, are on the ones that are in the preservation area. The rail line is the boundary. Everything south of the rail line are in the sewer service area. Everything north is out.

Mr. Roman: Asked if we push this plan off, can it be revisited 10 to 15 years from now.

Mrs. Marion: Said that if the DEP signs the map…right now technically it is within the sewer service area. In order to take the properties out of the sewer service area, we would have to go through an amendment process to map to physically remove this property from the sewer service area.

Mr. Buczynski: Said that at this point we should keep it in the sewer service area. Even if we don’t go forward with this now, we might want to in the future.

President Labow: Confirmed that the area north of the rail line that is in the preservation area cannot be sewered.

Mrs. Marion: Said that is correct but there have been areas within the preservation area that have been sewered. Mt. Arlington ran into the same issue and they ended up able to sewer those areas.

President Labow: Said her concern is that she believes there are properties north of the rail line that have cesspools. If DEP say you can’t have cesspools because of water preservation, why wouldn’t they allow a sewer line to be run.

Mrs. Marion: Said that she cannot speak as to the logic of DEP.

Steve Rattner, MSA Chairman and Morris County Planning Board Vice Chair: Said that garbage and sewers are issues that keep coming back. He read the article in the Chronicle and sent a copy of the article and comments to the Council President. The $49,000.00 is too high just as it was in 2008 when it was $29,000.00. The cost has always been the issue. The sewers in Flanders Crossing were designed to eventually sewer Old Flanders. That is why there is at the emergency entrance at the back. We required that just in case there was a chance in the future for sewering that area. In 2008 St. Elizabeth offered a contribution or talked about paying to put the main in on Main Road from the stub up to their church because they were going through an expansion and the cost of a septic system far exceeds anything that that would cost. If they had done it, they could have hired their own contractor thereby decreasing the cost. In 2010 New Jersey decided to use the money they got from the stimulus package for principle forgiveness. This means that any water or sewer project that was approved, they would forgive 50% of the principle and then you would go for the low cost loan. There weren’t enough takers. They had money left over. That was one of the reasons they were able to improve the MSA facility which the Budd Lake system feeds into thereby lowering the rates over the past few years. This year was a double digit decrease in the actual cost. Also, he doubted that the Township could support a $49,000.00 benefit to a property when setting the assessment. Twenty-five percent of the project went in to general taxation due to the resurfacing of the roads and the pump stations being considered assets. Due to his expertise, he was asked to meet with Mr. Buczynski and Mr. Canning on March 1st. He said that there is a high water table at St. Elizabeths. There is always water in the parking lot. He said due to the high water table, nitrogen and other nutrients are spreading through the groundwater into the environment. That is a known problem. If the homeowner has to replace their septic and they have a small lot, it is going to be very expensive. They probably start at $20,000 and go to $50,000 or $60,000 and there could even be a few that need a sealed system that needs to be pumped monthly if that is still allowable. He had an engineer review the 2008 proposal and then he toured the proposed service area, just the triangle. Also on the tour was an equipment supplier of the different pumps and other things needed if a low pressure system would work. Their conclusions were discussed with another local engineering firm that he has dealings with and the current executive director of a municipal utilities authority at one of our neighboring towns. The consensus was that a low pressure system because of costs and some of the environmental problems and other issues with terrain made a lot of sense. They didn’t look at it in the same degree as Mr. Buczynski who has over 30 years experience in the town. The low pressure head system was the original proposal for this building when it was built. After we purchased the property and we started the design and planning for this building, we found out that we could not under the current DEP standards put in a septic system at an affordable price. We eventually found that the local private sewer operator had to let us in because we were in that sewer service area. That saved our municipal building project and allowed the Middle School to be hooked in. Sometimes we have to look at different methods to accomplish what you want to do. Mr. Canning took the information and told Mr. Buczynski to look at what was in there. That is why there is discussion of low pressure now. He is concerned about suburban blight and relatives getting stuck with a white elephant. We need to look into future financial assistance. Most money now will go toward Sandy damage. There are two houses of worship in the area who will have to pay a lot of money to put in upgraded septic systems. The business in that area cannot expand without the sewer line. A low pressure system is cheaper.

President Labow: Stated that we all know that the economy has hit everyone hard. She explained about her cesspool that she constantly had to pump, she finally put in a new septic system and then six years later she was told she had to connect to the Budd Lake system. So no time is a good time for anyone and for a few years she was paying for both. She knows that she will never have to deal with her septic again.

Ralph DeVito, 20 Hillside Ave.: Asked if there has been a study done to study the feasibility of hooking up Beaver Lane, Hillside Avenue with Roxbury.

Mr. Canning: It is possible. We’d have to do an interconnect. We have to contact Roxbury to see if it is feasible. It goes back to capacity. It would be a whole new feasibility study for that area.
Mr. Buczynski: Said that he really just concentrated on the old Flanders triangle at this point in time.

Jim Pryor, Esq.: Stated that he represents the six homeowners on Patriots Way. They are adamantly opposed to sewers. The letter that first came with the $50,000 figure shocked everyone. We have heard tonight that that may not be a realistic number but it is the number that the Township provided. He can feel for the people who have problems but his clients all have working septic systems. Patriots Way was built in the 1980s. It’s a fairly recent development. These are modern septic systems with up to date technology and all of the septic systems on Patriots Way working in a perfectly acceptable manor. The last time they had the septic cleaned out, the cleaner told them that it looked like a brand new system. They will be substantially impacted by having to decommission a perfectly functioning septic system. They are two tank systems which are larger than typical systems so the decommissioning costs will be larger. The septic systems are in the front yard so they are not foregoing having a pool or anything in the back yard. Perhaps Council should look into exactly who has cesspools and failing septics.

President Labow: Said that there are 15 cesspools and 12 properties that are unidentified whether it is a cesspool or not. There is about another dozen people who have said they are having trouble with their septic systems. She said that they are not making any decision tonight. We are just here to inform everyone of all of the options. This is an informational session to see which way we want to go. She also said that when we did the Budd Lake system, there were some people who didn’t want it and we didn’t include those roads.

Mr. Buczynski: Said that when that development was built, they put dry lines in the road.

Mr. Pryor: Said that even though there are dry lines there would still have to be an assessment. Taking Patriots Way out of the project should be considered. There are a substantial number of people who are not having problems.

Mr. Mania: Asked that if this goes forward and we remove Patriots Way, it is going to cost more for the other homeowners.

Mr. Pryor: Said that there was a clear rationale to remove Patriots Way due to the type and age of their septics and the cost to decommission them.

Mr. Canning: Said that the $49,000 wasn’t an arbitrary number. It was based on the construction estimate from the 2008 study. If we got a grant and did the low pressure system and the full design was able to knock off 20, 30 40, 60% that would be optimal but it would be irresponsible to inform the public that it will only cost $15,000 and then find out it is $49,000.

Mr. Buczynski: Said that the $49,000-$51,000 is not just construction costs. It includes the financing. His numbers came out at $39,000 per home by taking the number of connections by the total cost of the project. Alternate C is $29,000-$30,000. Those are pretty firm numbers. You are not going to get it down to $10,000-$15,000 per home even with the low head sewers. The manufacturer was under the understanding that the whole area was in a high water table and that there was areas of rock. There’s no rock and there’s very little high water table in the area. The next step would be design but the town is not going to spend money on a design until they have some idea that it is feasible from the people wanting to go with the sewer system.

Glen Hodgins, Patriots Way: We are basing our decision based on the number that was provided. I can’t go buy a number 10 or 15% less. He has to live with a budget with a family with two children eventually going to college. $50,000 is not the only fee. There is the fee to hook up to it and pulling out the tanks and the leach field that goes along with it. It works perfectly with extra capacity in a high water table area which may never fail in his lifetime. There’s talk about free money to do the project. There is no such thing as free money. When you purchase a home with a cesspool, that is taken into the purchase price. This devalues his home as well. If he has to take a 20 year loan to pay for this, he is looking at $400-500 a month. He doesn’t have the cash flow to absorb that. In this economy his salary has not gone up in the last four years. It has gone down. There are a lot of sacrifices that you have to make. He compared it to someone telling him he has to get rid of his car and go electric because it is good for the environment. He referred to Mrs. Marion who spoke about endangered species. There are endangered species in this area, in the Highlands Preservation area. One of them is the eastern brook trout which is a native fish to America, the eastern United States, and it is very prevalent in Krueger’s Creek and Drakes Brook. That would directly be impacted by the sewer construction. He asked if someone could look into that. He feels sorry for someone who does have a cesspool but he has to argue his point and his situation and that is, that he doesn’t have that problem. They carefully looked for their house 10 years ago. They looked at the schools and the quality of life. They hired an home inspector and someone to inspect the septic system and we found that it was a perfectly working system that looked like it was relatively new and built in the 80’s. His costs would be $60,000 which is over half the equity in his house. This could force people out of their homes.

Elizabeth Bancroft, Main St.: Said that she was there on behalf of herself as a resident and on behalf of the law offices of Matthew C. Johnson at 19 Park Place. She referred to the Morris County map and that there was a requirement that if we are being shown as a sewered area on the map, that the municipality has to provide sewer.

Mrs. Marion: Said that the current DEP regulations states that municipalities who have sewer service areas are supposed to have an ordinance that requires hookups. If you on a septic system within a sewer service area and capacity is available and the line is available, there is supposed to be a requirement for hookup. The line has to be available.

Mr. Semrau: Stated that the line has to be within 200 feet of your property. If it’s not, then there is no mandatory hookup.

Mrs. Bancroft: Said that a lot of numbers have been tossed out tonight. We’ve gone from $29,000 to $60,000. When the survey comes out next week and you have to answer the question to put more time and money and what the options are, whether Patriots Way is in or out, she hopes that everyone thinks about all of the unknowns. Even if you think that you are not going to want to have a sewer, at least for those who are interested, give us a chance to find out what the hard numbers are. Let’s look into what Mr. Rattner talked about and what St. Elizabeths can do and what the Methodist Church can do and what ARC can do and let’s see where those numbers really come out. Even though you think your sewer is perfect, and she works in real estate, and on a daily basis she gets calls about the septic failing. Septics fail. Even if you don’t think you are for it, she hopes that on the survey you indicate to the Council that you would like them to do some more work. You aren’t signing that you are for it. You are just asking for more information. She can’t afford $50,000. She is not saying yes to that but maybe the cost is similar to cost of installing a septic and then you are assessed over 20 years as opposed to one day. She asks that everyone to take into consideration that we all live together in this town and have to give each other a chance even if it means waiting to see what the hard numbers are before you automatically say no.

President Labow: Asked Mr. Marchione about the assessment. We all agree that $50,000 is too much money. She referred to the Budd Lake assessment. Twenty-five percent was paid through general taxation and the assessment was seventy-five percent. She asked what the number would be knowing that you cannot assess high than the increased value.

Mr. Marchione: Said that the valuation company that would get hired would value the benefit received and they would look at various situations including the age of the septic. They would put a determination on what they felt the benefit was for that particular homeowner. There could be different numbers. If the benefit is $20,000 and the cost is $30,000, you cannot charge the $30,000 but if the cost was less than the benefit, you can only charge that amount.

Mr. Perkins: Said that you don’t actually remove the septic tank. It is pumped and then filled with sand. He is in the Budd Lake system and he is on the gravity system with a grinder pump. His pump has failed three times. If you have the gravity system, the homeowner has to pay for the excavation and installation of the sewer line from your house to the curb. If you have a grinder pump, you have to install from your house to the grinder pump. The rest is absorbed by the Township. At least that is the way it was done with the Budd Lake sewer system. He compared the DEP regulations about cesspools to the DEP regulations for the Private Well Testing Act. If you have your home tested and your well comes out bad, before you can sell it you must pay for the reparation or whoever is going to buy it. That can be pretty costly depending upon what’s in the drinking water. Prior to a storm you have to fill up your bathtub with water because when you lose power you need about 10 or 15 buckets of water to flush the toilet before the grinder pump, which runs on electric, which can no longer pump the sewerage from your house. So without power, your well doesn’t pump and your grinder pump doesn’t pump. Our engineers came up with the cost based upon a 2008 study. Take the numbers that were given and say, if I had to do it tomorrow, this is the number I need to look. If President Obama sends tons of money to Mount Olive Township and we are able to do this for half the price, then you come out ahead of the game. Understand that there are costs for capping your old system and the excavation as well. When the power goes out in the lower pressure systems, you’ve got no sewer.

Kim Thomas, Patriots Way: Confirmed that capping your old system and connecting to the new one is not calculated in the numbers that we’ve been given. She said that the septics on Patriots Way take up over a half an acre of their yard. People are barely making it as it is. They cannot afford even an extra $50 a month. We are going to have short sales and foreclosures which will devalue the property of everyone in Flanders including Flanders Crossing and Cloverhill. She has talked to at least seven families who have told her that if they have an additional costs to their home, they will have to leave. She said that she has total empathy for the people who have cesspools and septics but there alternatives. Mount Olive is one of the strictest towns to sell a house with a septic that does not function properly. She has had many septics fail but the buyer will take payment at closing. It comes out of the cost of the home. There are alternatives that should be looked into as far as mini septic systems for some of the smaller homes on Main Street that can’t put a septic system in their yards. Although there are homes that need this but to effect families that don’t need it, could mean the loss of homes.

President Labow: Said the Mr. Canning found out that the DEP will allow if there is one house that cannot put a septic in but the house next door can, they will allow a shared septic which is also an alternative.

Mrs. Thomas: Referred to the Wyndham Point system.

Mr. Buczynski: Said that was a completely different system.

Mr. Canning: Said that in the letter he did allude to a “mini sewer service area.”

Mrs. Thomas: Said that she was really concerned about the value of their homes. She didn’t think there would be much of an increase in the value of the homes on Patriots Way. They are valued very closely to the Flanders Crossing homes with the sewer. She said if there is three years of construction, it will leave a lot of sellers in limbo. That has to be disclosed to homeowners. It will affect the value of the homes.

Keri Cifaretto, Patriots Way: Said that she does feel bad for the people with cesspools and asked if there was any kind of state aid or something to help them rather than place this burden on everyone else.

Mr. Canning: Said that Mr. Buczynski suggested a Community Development Block Grant but Mr. Canning didn’t think that would happen.

President Labow: Said that when the state or DEP made rules, she wished they would help fund them.

Mrs. Cifaretto: Asked if you answer the survey that you might be in favor but want more info, at what point is there a no going back.

Mr. Canning: Said that the survey going out is pretty much a yes or no answer but if Council wants to change it, we can and then we can go into a more in depth study. We also do not have it included in this year’s budget.

Mr. Buczynski: Said that the next step would be to do the design in order to come up with concrete numbers.

Sean Hopkins, Gervic St.: Asked if the survey comes back in favor of moving forward will it be based on the majority?

President Labow: Mentioned 60%.

Mr. Perkins: Said he wouldn’t vote for it unless it came back at least 75% in favor.

President Labow: Asked for a straw poll.

President Labow and Mr. Roman said 60%. All others said 75%.

Mr. Hopkins: Confirmed that if 75% come back in favor it will move forward.

President Labow: Said yes, it would move forward toward getting the firm figures.

Mr. Hopkins: Asked if for assessment purposes the sewer was valued higher than a septic or cesspool.

Mr. Marchione: Said it really has to do with sales in each neighborhood. It’s not something we put a value on.

Mr. Hopkins: Said then that the current valuation does not differentiate between sewer and septic. So if we have 107 homes, 14 with cesspools that will need a replacement to sell and then there are 12 left that are uncertain. Twenty-five percent of the homes may need to have some kind of upgrade. Seventy-five percent of the homes don’t need it. If there is no differentiation in value for 75% of the homes and we make them replace their septic, put in a sewer and there is no increase in the value of the homes then 75% of the total costs that those people could potentially go and appeal the entire assessment. The $3 million could be appealed and go on the general taxation. Seventy-five percent of the people will decide for the whole town.

Mr. Semrau: Said that Mr. Hopkins is a tax assessor himself. He didn’t think what Mr. Marchione said was incorrect but if a whole neighborhood has sewer, the value could change.

Mr. Marchione: Agreed with Mr. Semrau.

Mr. Hopkins: Asked Mr. Marchione if he knew of any study that has shown that values of properties are increased by having sewers as opposed to septics.

Mr. Marchione: Said that he wasn’t aware of any study that says that.

Mr. Hopkins:  In his 25 years of an assessor, he is not aware of that and he has spoken to other evaluation experts and they are not aware it. There is not definitive answer that says having sewer over septic makes an increase in value.  If you have a failing septic or sewer, that is a problem in itself.  Mr. Hopkins asked what is the annual sewer charge in Mount Olive? 

President Labow:  Every system is different, the public sewer system is $180/quarter, Clover Hill is $110/quarter, $450/quarter in Wyndam Point.

Mr. Hopkins:  So we are looking at $440 to $1250 per year for the right to use the sewer plus maintenance costs.  I came back in 2008 and he heard that different systems in old Flanders are failing.  Five years later, has anyone gone out and done a survey to see or required those people to get repairs, maintain them, make sure they are pumping them.

President Labow:  I think Mr. Wilpert answered that question. 

Mr. Hopkins:  Are they pumping them yet? 

Mr. Wilpert:  One of the things that work so well in that area aside from the cess pools is the fact that the systems that had to have repairs done were put on our septic maintenance program and they get a notification every three years to pump that system.  Proper maintenance is the key to a long life for a functioning septic system.  That’s why I suspect we have not had very many complaints in those areas because when we do come across a repair, we put them on a maintenance program and they are notified every three years of what needs to be done.  In several of the other communities that we provide service to, they are now beginning to work with the county on this also.  This program minimizes the amount of complaints we get.  It is a lot cheaper to do a pump out then to have to repair it.

Mr. Hopkins:  Is it fair to say that you feel confident that the number of septic systems out there that are failing or close to failing has been overstated? 

Mr. Wilpert:  I would say we need to be vigilant and monitor the area.  I certainly believe that it has had an impact in terms of repairs and continuous maintenance.  People receive manuals from us when we do a License to Operate and we give new homeowners who have come from a strictly sewer area the information to be educated on septic systems.  We will give them pamphlets and actually go with them to show them where their system is located.

Mr. Hopkins:  I feel confident that there is not a random problem of failing septics.  If the Council feels it would be prudent to put all of the 107 homes on a septic maintenance program or that they at least have to say that they are maintaining their systems and are pumping it out and there is a $10.00 fee every three years just to register that information plus your pumping costs which is $250 per time.  That also benefits the homeowner by maintaining the system.  I think that is a much cheaper alternative than say we need to put in a sewer line.  The last point which I think was already spoken about with Mrs. Marion saying that if you have a sewer line in the road, those properties have to hook up, is that correct?

Mr. Wilpert:  Yes.

Mr. Hopkins:  If you have a sewer area and the sewer line is available, those pumps have to hook up? 

President Labow:  I just want to clarify, there is a dry line in Patriots Way right now but that dry…

Mr. Hopkins: That’s not an active line.

President Labow:  It’s not an active line and it’s not within 200 feet of making it active, so they would not be required to?

Mr. Buczynski: Not at this point, but if you put the sewer line in for Flanders, some of those homes would be within the 200 feet.

President Labow:  What about behind them or to the side of them where you have Flanders Crossing, that’s an active line.

Mr. Canning:  There is an easement in effect that would trigger that.

Mr. Hopkins:  If you put the sewer main from the emergency exit on Flanders Crossing down to St. Elizabeth’s, then the houses on the corner of Patriots Way could possibly be required to hook up?

Mr. Buczynski:  I would think possibly because the sewer line goes right down the road. 

Mr. Hopkins:  If the first one is hooked up it would be within 200 feet of the next one on Patriots Way and there would be a domino effect down the street.  If you start the hub at Main Street then you cannot say that Patriots Way is going to be eliminated.  I think those are things we need to consider if we are going to consider everything going into this.

Mrs. Marion:  Mount Olive is participating in a pilot project which will be a voluntarily program to inventory all of the septic systems in the County.  The County has a Geographic Information System, but it needs to be updated of all the homes on septic or assumed septic.  The Highlands Council is also very interested in this process and also participating as well.  They are looking to put everyone who is in the Highlands Preservation area and north of the railroad and the Flanders area on a cyclical pump out and inspection system.  That is not yet set in stone it is being discussed right now.  This is something that may come down the road. 

Mr. Wilpert: I guess you are saying Mount Olive is ahead of our time doing the maintenance program.

Mrs. Marion:  Absolutely.

Santo Recchia, 3 Patriots Way:  I thought I heard you say earlier that it was only the houses in the Highlands area north of the rail road tracks that were required to hook up to a sewer if it was available?

Mrs. Marion:  No.  If you are north of the railroad tracks, on the 206 side, then you have been removed from the sewer service area.  There is no sewer service area unless you already had an existing line and have already been on a sewer.  But if you haven’t been hooked up, there’s no active sewer, then you have been removed from the sewer area.

Mr. Recchia:  Then what they said earlier is true, if the sewer comes within 200 feet….

Mrs. Marion:  Now that’s a question I have to find out, if you are not on this map in the future sewer service area, I don’t think you can be hooked up.  If you are not going to be hooked then you have to be removed from the sewer area on the map. 

President Labow:  Asked if she could put a copy of the map put in the Cafeteria during the Public Meeting so if anyone is interested in looking at it, they can.  There are also copies available in the Planning Department.  She asked Mr. Canning if he could post it on the Town website, also.

Carol Shuren, Flanders United Methodist Church:  The church has three properties, the Sanctuary, the Parsonage, and the Thrift Shop.  If sewers were to be installed, the church and congregation could not handle paying for three locations.  The church is also concerned as they are going to be renovating their Thrift Shop and if they spend $35,000 on a new septic system and a year later the Town comes in and says you need to hook up to sewer.  How would this work?  When do you think the Town will decide on what is going to be done?

Mr. Canning:  The survey will be going out this week and hopefully the results will be back for the April 16th meeting.  When he gets the findings back, he will present it to Council and it will be up to Council at that point. 

Mrs. Shuren:  How long will the Town allow people to go along on a septic that is not great before they will have to replace their septic?  A septic is very expensive and it would be better to spend the money on the sewer than on a new septic.

President Labow:   It’s very difficult for people who need new septics.  They are trying to wait but the sewer will not be available right away. 

Mr. Semaru:  The best answer he can give at this time is to wait and see the results of the survey that is being taken.  He suggests try your best to plan accordingly.

President Labow:  Once the results of the survey are done, we will know what direction the Town will be moving in.  If we do not get 75% in favor, then we will not move forward.  If we do get 75% in favor, then research will not begin until next year so it will be a couple more years.  Hopefully everyone who has a failing septic has learned the options available.

Kelsey Guerci 6 Schmidt Lane:    What are the costs going to be to fill in a septic, what the cost would be for hookup, and would a grinder pump be required and what would that cost?

Mr. Buczynski:  Low pressure systems require grinder pumps. 

Mayor Greenbaum:  For private hookup to the line, you would have to hire a plumber and it would certainly be based upon the distance from where the street is to where they have to go.

Mr. Buczynski:  He’s guesses the hookup will roughly cost about $1500.00. 

Ray Winch, 27 Park Place:  In the 2008 version, the Town had offered to pay about 20% of the cost to go towards road resurfacing and things that would benefit the community.  Has that been factored into the new numbers?

Mr. Buczynski:  The numbers stated earlier doesn’t take out the 20%. 

President Labow:  She confirms that the actual cost is $39,000.00, but after twenty years, the actual cost is $49,000.00.  Resurfacing the roads in included in the $39,000.00.

Mr. Buczynski: Four hundred thousand dollars was allotted for paving of the streets. 

Mr. Winch: Asked if the assessment equates to the added value to the property. It will be different for everyone.

Mr. Marchione:  If the evaluation company went to your property and said your benefit enhancement is $10,000.00, then that is what your obligation would be.  If your neighbors benefit enhancement was $20,000.00, then that is what his obligation would be. 

Mr. Winch: Said that really small properties that can’t put in a septic will have to put in a holding tank. Their value for the system would be much greater than someone with an acre of land that really doesn’t need sewers.

Kim Thomas, 5 Patriots Way:  When we get the survey are we basing it on the numbers you have given us previously.  There is not going to be a new number, is there?  Also, if we are told that the value of our home is going to increase $10,000 so that is all we are responsible for, then the Town will be the rest?  Then how is the Town going to pay for that?  I am sure it will go out to the other tax payers in Mount Olive.  Then their taxes will increase and the value of their homes will go down.  They need to be made aware of this.    

Mr. Canning:  That is correct, the general taxpayers will be subsidizing this project.  It is a consideration for Council. 

Mr. Perkins:  The general population will be picking up the overflow cost of this project.  There are things that are going to get pushed down to the taxpayers, like the Budd Lake Sewer System.

Mr. Roman:  Am I correct in saying that someone who has a failed septic system will be assessed more than someone who has a newer, perfectly running septic system?  The people living on Patriots Way will see the least amount of increase in assessment since their septic system is newer and not failing.

Mr. Marchione:  I would say that is correct.

Mr. Mania:  Instead of sending out a survey why don’t we take a poll here tonight of anyone from the 107 homeowners to see if they are in favor of the sewer?

Council votes for surveys to go out with the exception of Mr. Mania.

Glen Hodgins:  The numbers we have do not include the hookup fees, so that could be substantially more?

Mr. Canning:  Correct.

Phyllis Shelton, 9 Park Place:  Has a letter from Darren and Gina Leo, 31 Park Place in favor of the sewers being installed.  Their backyards are not big enough for the septic they are in need of.  They feel that adding sewer will definitely enhance the value of the homes.  Phyllis, a realtor agrees with the Leo’s.  Given the way the cost of sewer has been presented today, $40.000.00 to $60,000.00, it’s no wonder everyone is scared at the amounts they are being told they have to pay.  The sewer connection is at the foot of our hill.  Where is the research into developing a less expensive plan?  Where is the search for longer term, low interest financing?  What is going to happen to these historic homes if we have to go on like this.

President Labow:  Would it be possible for Park Place to hook into Roxbury?

Mr. Buczynski:  He is not sure where the hookup would be.

Mr. Pryor: Asked if it was 75% of the 107 or 75% of those responding and when is the deadline for the response to the survey?

President Labow: Clarified that it was 75% of the responding surveys.

Mr. Canning: Said that his goal is to get it back by April 16th. It hasn’t gone out yet so maybe he’ll include a response deadline of April 13th.

Mr. Pryor: Asked if it included the 33 homes.

President Labow: Clarified that the 107 includes the 33 homes that are in the Preservation Area.

Mr. Canning: Said that there is a potential of 107 and you take out the 33 that are ineligible for sewer but can still get a Highlands waiver.

Mayor Greenbaum: Said that this is a non-binding survey and we probably wouldn’t even get a 75% response. He said that there never is a good time to put in sewers because 50% of the people won’t want it. He said no one is happy about the price but we all do know that at some time everyone on septic will have to replace their system and it could cost them $45,000. He does a lot of real estate and any time he gets a deal with a septic, it’s a nightmare because 80% of those that come back fail. He understands Patriots Way and he understands that no one wants to spend this kind of money. Let’s get the surveys back and then we can have another discussion about this.

Ten Minutes Recess
Resolutions:

  • Resolution awarding a contract to Brown’s Hunterdon Mack SLS & Service, Inc. for (3) auto refuse collection bodies and (7,500) refuse containers.
  • Resolution awarding a contract to Aquatic Technologies, Inc. for contact herbicide application for Budd Lake.
  • Resolution declaring its official intent to reimburse expenditures for project costs from proceeds of debt obligations in connection with the funding of improvements to Dan Jordan Field.
  • Resolution extending a contract with Petersons Tree Service for tree removal, tree trimming, and stump grinding services.
  • Resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute various 2013 professional services agreements.
  • Resolution authorizing the disposal of surplus property (various public items).
  • Resolution authorizing a waiver of limitation of Turkey Brook Park hours of operation for the Mt. Olive Baseball Association tournament.
  • Resolution authorizing the release of the performance bonds posted for CVS Pharmacy.
  • Resolution authorizing bond reduction No. 3 for Morris Hunt Phase II.
  • Resolution authorizing bond reduction No. 3 for Morris Hunt Phase III.

No comments on Resolutions

Ordinances:

  • Ordinance providing for the installation of a yield sign at the intersection of Carson Road and Delbar Drive (to be incorporated into Chapter 245 of the Mount Olive Township Code) Mayor Greenbaum asked for this to be moved to the April 2, 2013, meeting when someone from the Police Department can be here.

OLD BUSINESS – none

NEW BUSINESS – none

PUBLIC PORTION - none

ADJOURNMENT – motion made and seconded. All in favor and none opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 9:57 pm and the regularly scheduled public meeting commenced.

____________________________

                                                                                              Colleen Labow, Council President

I, MICHELLE MASSER, Deputy Township Clerk of the Township of Mount Olive do hereby certify that the foregoing Minutes are a true and correct copy of the Minutes approved at a legally convened meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council duly held on April 16, 2013.
___________________________________
    Michelle Masser, Deputy Clerk
sg/ll

 

 
 

Mailing Address:
Mount Olive Township
Post Office Box 450
Budd Lake, NJ 07828

Physical Address:
Mount Olive Township
204 Flanders-Drakestown Road
Budd Lake, N.J. 07828

Telephone:
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