Township Council Minutes
September 5 , 2006
The Special Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:34 pm by Council President Rob Greenbaum with the Pledge of Allegiance.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE & MOMENT OF REFLECTION in recognition of the men and women fighting terrorism and those who have lost their lives defending the freedoms we all enjoy
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT ANNOUNCEMENT According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Mount Olive Chronicle. 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. Tepper, Mr. Biondi, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum,
Absent: Mr. Buell
Also Present: Rick Prill, Business Administrator; Mr. Dominic DiYanni, Township Attorney;
Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk
CONSENT RESOLUTIONS AGENDA:
Resolutions on the Consent Agenda List are considered to be routine and non-controversial by the Township Council and will be approved by one motion (one vote). There will be no separate discussion or debate on each of these resolutions except for the possibility of brief clarifying statements that may be offered. If one or more Council member requests, any individual resolution on the Consent Agenda may be removed from the Consent Agenda List and acted on separately.
1. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Submission of an Application to the Morris County Open Space and Farmland Trust Regarding Silver Spring Extension.
2. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Accepting a Drainage Easement from the Abiding Peace Senior Housing Corp.
3. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Affirming an Intent to Bond or Provide Funds from General Revenue in Accordance with N. J. A. C. 5:94-4.2(a) 1 to Address Any Shortfall in the Allocation of $384,900.00 from the Township’s Housing Trust Fund for the Affordable Housing Project to be Known as Mt. Olive Manor – Phase II.
4. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Affirming an Intent to Bond or Provide Funds from General Revenue to Reimburse the DCA Neighborhood Preservation Non-Lapsing Revolving Fund for Funds Provided to an Affordable Housing Project to be Known as Abiding Peace – Phase II in the Event the Township Fails to Secure Substantive Certification of its Third Round Housing Element and Fair Share Plan.*
President Greenbaum: This evening at the Special Council Meeting, we have four resolutions on. They are all on the Consent Resolutions Agenda. The Consent Resolutions Agenda generally are considered to be routine and non-controversial. They are approved by one motion. There is no separate discussion or debate except for further possibility of brief clarifying statements. I think that #3 and 4 should be moved off and put on Non Consent. Does anyone want #1 and 2 taken off or can we just deal with those as Consent Resolution? Okay, so we will move #3 and 4 for a separate discussion and we will move #1 and 2 as Consent Resolutions. Mr. Tepper, can you make that motion please?
Mr. Tepper: Yes, Mr. President. I move Consent Resolutions #1 and 2 for approval.
President Greenbaum: Is there a second?
Mr. Rattner: Second.
PUBLIC PORTION ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
President Greenbaum: Is there anyone from the public who wishes to be heard on Consent Resolution #1 and 2? Seeing none, I close it to the public.
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
President Greenbaum: Is there anyone on Council who wishes to make a brief clarifying statement?
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
NON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
President Greenbaum: We are moving to the Non Consent Resolutions now.
3. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Affirming an Intent to Bond or Provide Funds from General Revenue in Accordance with N. J. A. C. 5:94-4.2(a) 1 to Address Any Shortfall in the Allocation of $384,900.00 from the Township’s Housing Trust Fund for the Affordable Housing Project to be Known as Mt. Olive Manor – Phase II.
President Greenbaum: Mr. Biondi, do you want to move that for me please?
Mr. Biondi: I move Resolution #3 as read by Council President.
President Greenbaum: Thank you, is there a second to that?
Mrs. Labow: Second.
President Greenbaum: Mr. Prill, you asked that these two resolutions be put on. Do you want to give us some background as to how this came to you and what is it that you are looking for the Council to do?
Mr. Prill: These resolutions were brought to our attention through Mr. McGroarty from Abiding Peace at the last minute. We have not received in my opinion, a thorough explanation from Abiding Peace. I have requested through Chuck and I know that he communicated this to Rhonda Coe, that someone should be here tonight to address these but I don’t see anybody in the audience, which is unfortunate. Again, I don’t know whether Chuck, since he has been working with Abiding Peace in terms of the preparation with these two resolutions, whether he would feel comfortable trying to provide a little bit more of the background. My understanding is simply that this is just a requirement that is placed on Abiding Peace, I believe by HUD. A requirement that they have all of their funding sources, essentially, locked in place before they go to closing on this project.
President Greenbaum: Chuck, do you want to come up to the podium. I know that these were resolutions which Abiding Peace asked you to pass along to the Township and that really was your role in this whole thing, as far as I understand it. I put it on the Agenda because it appeared that it at least needed to be discussed in a timely fashion. I was a little concerned about some of the language and some of the things which the Town Council would be binding the Township to in the event that these resolutions were ultimately adopted.
Nonetheless, I put it on the Agenda and I see that there are various correspondences that went back and forth between Council, the Administration and the legal counsel with respect to these particular resolutions. Why don’t you give the Council the best that you can in terms of your knowledge as to why Abiding Peace requested that this be put on the Agenda?
Mr. McGroarty: I will be happy to do that and I thought they were going to be here this evening and maybe they are still on their way, I don’t know. I alerted them last week and again today via email that.......and I communicated and it was a back and forth email so I know that they received my communication. In any event, Abiding Peace and Lutheran Social Ministries and their representative Don Lubin, contacted me somewhere in the neighborhood of two or three weeks ago and said that they would need a resolution from the Township to cover the amount if you will, from the Housing Trust Fund and that is one of the two resolutions and that is the Resolution $384,900.00, that COAH would require a resolution to be adopted. By the way, the language in the resolutions are mine. So to the extent that there is anything in there that is improper or incorrect, no pride of authorship there we can change it and amend it assuming that you would find that you wanted to go forward with it. In any event, the $384,900.00 that the Township indicated that it would provide to the Lutheran Social Ministries from the Housing Trust Fund, that can’t happen until such time as the Township has a certified Housing Element.
Mr. McGroarty (Cont’d): Now, as I recall when we talked about this last time when I was here, I think I indicated to you that COAH was not even sure it would fund a project....this project. Well, it will if this project is incorporated into the Town’s Housing Plan or Housing Element and Fair Share Plan. That is what we are doing now. All of you have received or have been advised I believe, of the fact that COAH has reviewed our Housing Element. They have submitted a 40 page response. We are taking issue with certain things and we are dealing with that. One of the key things that we are doing is plugging in, if you will, this 50 unit project into our Housing Plan....Housing Element Fair Share Plan so that it will qualify for funding. That was the direction that I got from you, that the Township was interested in funding this and in discussions with COAH that is the way that they want to proceed. So why this resolution? Well, this resolution is necessary under COAH’s rules actually for a municipality that is going to use money from its Trust Fund. One of the requirements of COAH’s rules imposes upon a municipality responsibility to adopt a resolution. I will say like this...... or exactly like this, if you will. This has been passed by a staff at COAH, they have reviewed the resolution in terms of its form, and content they find it acceptable. Obviously, we are talking about the content. You have to make the decision whether it is even appropriate, so that is why that resolution is coming forward. If, in fact, the Township still wishes to proceed to fund this project through the Trust Fund, we will amend the Housing Element. We will incorporate the 50 unit Abiding Peace project in the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan as one of the strategies if you will, one of the components of meeting our affordable housing obligation and by virtue of doing that, it would then qualify for this money out of the Trust Fund. COAH however, does not release the money or will not authorize you the Township to release the money from the Trust Fund until there is a certified Housing Element. Now that will probably.....there is no question that will happen. The question is when? There is going to be some give and take between us and COAH with regard to a number of the points they raise in their report. That resolution as you read, is saying....COAH is asking you to make sure that money is covered.
President Greenbaum: Well, let’s assume that the Township covers the money because the Housing Plan has not yet been certified. We actually bond the money for Abiding Peace and then ultimately the funds are certified.....I mean the Housing Plan is certified. Is this Abiding Peace at this point?
Mr. McGroarty: That’s Ms. Coe, with Abiding Peace yes.
President Greenbaum: Okay.
Mr. McGroarty: Not that I put her on the spot the minute she walked in but.......
President Greenbaum: Is there any guarantee that we can then take the money that we got...........
Mr. McGroarty: My understanding of the process is, is not that you actually go out and bond today for it. This resolution would say that you agree to do so in the event you withdraw from the COAH process or if you are decertified or some other action on the Township’s part that breaks off that relationship with COAH and says we are not interested in getting our Housing Element certified anymore. Basically, as I understand it, in the event that that happens you will take these other steps that are necessary whether it is bonding or taking it from general revenues and making sure that the Lutheran Social Ministries project is funded accordingly.
Mr. Biondi: Mr. McGroarty, I have a memo here from Mr. Dorsey and his firm. The last sentence of which says, I am also perplexed by the fact that the, whereas clause on the second page of the resolution sets forth the figure of $750,000.” What is that all about?
Mr. McGroarty: That is the next resolution and by the way, clearly, this is a lot to put on you at this short notice without the time to really understand it. The request was made of me late last week to prepare this, and then to contact you through Mrs. Lashway to see about having this meeting this evening which you were gracious enough to do. Mrs. Coe is here. She can explain further but it has been represented to me that Lutheran Social Ministries has a closing with HUD on September 14th and that’s why there was this urgency to get these resolutions adopted. I am only relaying what I know and that can be clarified for you in a few moments. Do you want me to talk about the other resolution now?
President Greenbaum: No, I think I want to hear from Mrs. Coe. Are you ready to address the Council? If you would just go up to the podium and state your name and address and position for the record please.
Rhonda Coe, Lutheran Social Ministries of N. J., Burlington Township: The resolution I believe that you are addressing today is for $384,900.00 in Affordable Housing Trust Funds. We were advised by COAH, the Council on Affordable Housing, that in order for our agency to receive those dollars, that we needed to have the Township agree to fund this particular cost either through affordable trust funds or some other dollars that the Township would have. This is primarily because the Town’s Housing Element has not yet been approved by COAH. This is the request that has been made of us through the Council on Affordable Housing.
Mrs. Coe (Cont’d): It’s a request that is not only being made of Mount Olive Township but any township that has trust fund dollars that they wish to expend and a Plan has not yet been certified. It was to my knowledge that of the 200 plus plans that COAH has submitted, just a few have been approved. It’s not just Mount Olive, it’s any township that has these dollars and wants to expend them on affordable housing projects.
President Greenbaum: It just puts us between a rock and a hard place because the Council has bent over backwards to try and help Lutheran Social Ministries with respect to this very worthwhile project. The language itself binds the Township to an obligation which......a new obligation of substantial dollars and I understand that this has been thrust upon you at this date where you have......for lack of a better analogy, you have a shot gun at your head because of the time of the closing with HUD. There has been significant concern raised by Council members with respect to binding the Township to the type of obligation which is set forth in this resolution. I will let everyone speak for themselves.
Mr. Tepper: I wanted to ask Chuck a question in terms of likelihood of certification. When would the third round be expected to be certified?
Mr. McGroarty: We are going to resubmit to COAH what is called repetition which becomes necessary when we submit a new Housing Element or a substantially revised one, to incorporate Lutheran Social Ministries, a 50 unit project and some other things as well. We have a deadline of November 15, 2006 to resubmit that to COAH. That’s per the August 17th compliance report or review letter if you will, that COAH issued. There is a 90 day deadline. Now, they will receive it on November 15th when they get around to it.....I don’t want to say when they get around to it but when they schedule it for review. I am not sure, I can only tell you that we submitted our Housing Element. The first one as you know, late November of 2005, August 17th we just got the report. We are one of the few who have actually gotten the 40 page oral report yet. Many towns are getting letters saying it is incomplete for these reasons.
President Greenbaum: So we are looking at some time in 2007 at the earliest before.........
Mr. McGroarty: I would think.
Mr. Rattner: A couple of different things. One and I think it was very clear from the Council. We understand your concerns but then we are in a difficult spot. One, that we made it very plain that we were allocating the money out of the fund and only from the fund because we had no other funds. One of the questions comes up because it says that if we don’t get certification, we have to come up with the funds by December 31, 2006. We are talking in four months this is what the resolution says, we have to come up with the money. Now Mr. Prill, can we even pass a resolution committing or guaranteeing funds if we don’t have a certification of availability of funds? Knowing our budget, I know we don’t have the availability right now.
President Greenbaum: I spoke to Mr. McGroarty beforehand and he had suggested that the resolution be modified to eliminate the date that is in the.....the particular date that is in the wherefore clause and I assume that if we did that and passed the resolution that it would be acceptable to the Lutheran Social Ministries. Even if we passed the resolution, that particular date is coming out of the resolution.
Mr. Rattner: It is not the date. Under the budget laws in New Jersey, we cannot commit funds unless there is certification of availability of funds. We can’t just say that we are guaranteeing $384,900 unless we have those funds available to provide the guarantee because we are spending money we don’t have. My reading of the statute is that that would be illegal because anything else we have done we can’t even go to a contractor and make a bid on something unless we have everything in place because of that certification.
Mr. Tepper: Steve, would we have to have $384, or would you actually have authorization for $750, since you would potentially be liable for $750.....
Mr. Rattner: No, we are liable for over a million. That $750 is DCA, that is a penalty and that could be five years out. That is a completely separate thing. I don’t know and we don’t have it, $384, is equivalent to 3% almost 2 points that is 3% of our taxes. If anybody reads the newspaper, it keeps getting reported that we already have the highest taxes in the County and we know it is already causing an undue burden on a lot of the people and we still have ratables going down. Hopefully it is going to stop this year, but a practical matter, I haven’t seen anything that says can we do this. We have never been able to commit any type of funds without having the financing or committing the funds out of our budget available. I haven’t seen anything from the administration that says that we could even do this from a statutory.....from statutory requirements.
President Greenbaum: Well, leaving that aside I don’t think that there is a majority who is prepared to commit to it even if we had the ability to finance it.
Mr. McGroarty: Let me just say if I may? That is the one, the date is not mine. That was added by a Mr. Lubin on behalf of Lutheran Social Ministries and I would, as Mr. Greenbaum said, I would urge you, if you would otherwise consider it, to take that out. I confirmed that with a conversation with COAH staff today. That is not necessary, that date.
Mr. Biondi: The date notwithstanding, I would not be comfortable appropriating this money that we don’t have. It has nothing to do with the date at this point. We just don’t have the money.
President Greenbaum: It’s not necessarily......it’s committing to appropriate, the possibility to appropriate.
Mr. Biondi: Yes, I understand that, we can’t commit to even the possibility.
Mrs. Coe: The Lutheran Social Ministries certainly does recognize the fact that Council has been extremely generous and very considerate of the project’s needs. We are, as has already been stated, really under a very tight time line. We are hoping that Council will pass this resolution with changes, with respect to the date as well as even changes where you would commit those dollars at some future time, any additional changes that may be necessary. We do need this allocation of funding. We do need this resolution in order to assure HUD that all funding is in place in order for us to have this closing on the 14th. If we don’t have this commitment, then the project is unable to move forward.
Mrs. Labow: I have a question for Chuck please. The Housing Trust Fund monies, if I understand this correctly, we can’t touch it at all without having our third round COAH approved?
Mr. McGroarty: Right.
Mrs. Labow: What happens previous, our last COAH round, didn’t we have money in the Housing Trust Fund then?
Mr. McGroarty: We did, and you still do. It is that money plus money that has accumulated since then plus interest. What you have.....what we did not put forward to COAH in the second round was the spending plan. In other words, we didn’t ask to spend the money and under the rules you cannot spend the money without a spending plan which of course has to be reviewed and approved by COAH, which is to accomplish the aims in the housing plan.
Mrs. Labow: My question is going to be. If we were available to spend it under the last round of COAH, couldn’t we use it then if we had enough but you are saying no we didn’t have a spending plan.
Mr. McGroarty: If I may, you made me think of something. I don’t know if it is going to solve a problem, an interesting point though is that leading up to our submitting our Third Round Housing Element as we did last year, COAH advised Mount Olive as well as many other municipalities, perhaps all of the municipalities that it has jurisdiction over, that it must spend a balance of its Housing Trust Fund on what is called affordability assistance. The problem.....that gets a little complicated. I don’t want to waste....that is, take too much of your time tonight. I didn’t mean to say that. The possibility exists that you can use monies from your trust fund for that purpose. The problem with that approach is that you do not generally get credits for money spent on affordability assistance. Simply it is something that you must just do and I haven’t had any conversations with COAH to see if they would be open to allowing you to spend that money as part of your affordability assistance and then recouping it later. They haven’t been very accommodating with other sort of creative approaches, if you will, that we have advanced.
Mrs. Labow: My question is, first they are telling us that they are advising us to spend it. Now they are telling us that we can’t spend it when we have a project that we can spend it on.
Mr. McGroarty: They are still telling you that you have to spend the 30% on affordability assistance but again, that of course it is the 30% of the balance of the trust fund, as we have talked about before. It is much more advantageous to the Town to have the bulk of that money spent on projects that will actually create real housing but will also get you credit.
Mrs. Labow: One other question. Just say hypothetically, if for some reason they can’t go through with their project, how does that effect your application with the Third Round COAH because weren’t those units included in?
Mr. McGroarty: Well. It is a complicated process anyway but we are repetitioning COAH, that is, submitting a new Housing Element in order to incorporate this project, this 50 unit project. If this 50 unit project were not to go forward, we have different sort of alternative strategies if you will. We didn’t rely upon it in the first place, that is probably the simplest way to say it, to accomplish the Town’s objectives.
President Greenbaum: Do you have anything further to add?
Mr. Biondi: Just one question. How much of a hardship or a problem would it create to postpone the closing? That seems to be the overriding factor here. You have two weeks to close.
Mrs. Coe: That’s right.
Mr. Biondi: You are not giving us much time to do anything.
Mrs. Coe: We have two weeks to close and with regard to HUD and its funding, it has until the end of September to expend those dollars on this project’s behalf. If we aren’t able to draw down those funds then the funds are lost completely. What that will mean is that we will have to start all over again and of course there is no guarantee that funding would be appropriated to this project on future cycles. HUD has a number of closings. There are a number of projects we are trying to close this month so that they don’t lose the funding. The only available date for this project is the 14th. A housing consultant has been talking with HUD about moving the date, changing the date to provide Council with more time. We have been given this date as the only date available.
President Greenbaum: I am not sure that changing the date to the end of September or the beginning of October or November or December really changes the story anyway. It is still the same obligation and until such time as the Housing Element is approved and then the need for this particular type of action disappears because at that point, the money would become available out of the trust fund. Does anyone from the audience have anything they would like to add on this? Do you have any other thing that you would like to say to Council before I put this to a vote?
Mrs. Coe: The only other thing that I would add is that we have been talking to COAH on a regular basis over the past two weeks to persuade them to not make this a requirement. We have been unsuccessful and they have stood strong on their position in terms of requiring the Town to pass this resolution. We have done everything we could to keep this from going in this direction but we have not been successful. Again, I would only add that it is a very important project for L. S. M. and I know that it is an important project for the Council and we hope that you would approve this resolution.
President Greenbaum: Thank you, does anyone else have anything further to add on Council? Chuck, did you have something else?
Mr. McGroarty: I do. One other thing, in order for us to submit a repetition Housing Element or even to address the issues that were raised by COAH the first time around, the Council will be asked to do this resolution, a resolution. Now, there may not be a specific dollar amount but anything that is in the Fair Share Plan that is something....again this is separate from the DCA resolution which we haven’t discussed. This Fair Share Plan, the rules which govern a Fair Share Plan under COAH do require that you adopt this resolution. That will be true also for any RCA’s that the Town wishes to do. Even though the money is in the Housing Trust Fund, even with a certified Housing Element COAH is requiring these resolutions to be submitted. Whatever your decision this evening is on this one, this question will come back to you very shortly as a matter of fact because again we have to meet the November 15th deadline.
Mr. Biondi: Can we move this to closed session?
President Greenbaum: I don’t think that we can.
Mr. Biondi: We can’t do that?
President Greenbaum: No, because it is not something that is subject to closed session discussion.
Mr. Biondi: Okay.
Mrs. Labow: I just wanted Chuck to clarify. You mean by resolution for like an RCA, we have to guarantee that if we can’t use the funds we will bond the funds. Is that what you are talking about?
Mr. McGroarty: Yes.
Mrs. Labow: So even if we do an RCA, we would still have to approve this type of resolution that we guarantee that we would bond if we weren’t able to use the Housing Trust Fund?
Mr. McGroarty: Yes. If you are making commitments to use money from the Housing Trust Fund to fund projects that are identified in the Fair Share Plan and part of a spending plan that we talked about a moment ago, it is specific in the rules, COAH’s rules, that require such a resolution be adopted.
Mr. Labow: Until our plan is accepted.
Mr. McGroarty: Well yes, and then once the plan is certified then the money can be authorized to be released from the Trust Fund and of course......likewise for an RCA. Once an RCA contract is set in place with another municipality and everything else is in order the money comes out of the trust fund. You only do RCA’s that you can afford obviously. I just wanted to check, I am looking at COAH’s report and I believe this resolution was one of the items that they called out because it is right in the rules so I know for many municipalities they are getting letters like this saying you must do this resolution so. Yes, it’s here.
Mr. Biondi: Chuck was this in that agreement all along, from day one or is it something that just reared its ugly head?
Mr. McGroarty: No. The obligation to do this resolution has been in the rules. You have not been asked to do a resolution of a more generic nature because we submitted the Housing Plan to COAH. We expected to get a report back to see what essentially their comments and alike and then we would respond and they have done that. If this were not happing tonight in order to meet the November 15 deadline to repetition, I would be back here in probably the later part of this month or in October, laying out for you all the various things that COAH says that we have to provide. These various resolutions and some documents and so on. So it is not the idea of passing the resolution to promise if you will, to make good on these funds if a catastrophe were to happen with respect to the Housing Element. That’s not new but this particular project came about in the last week or two because as I understand it, the HUD deadline.
President Greenbaum: Well, let’s assume the Council went forward and approved this resolution and what is the interplay that the second resolution in terms of the closing as well? If the Council were to approve this and deny the second resolution which is on for this evening, could the closing take place?
Mr. McGroarty: Again, I am going to let Mrs. Coe answer that. That has to do with DCA. That is separate from COAH.
President Greenbaum: Right.
Mrs. Coe: The second resolution for $750,000 is needed in order for Lutheran Social Ministries to receive a letter of commitment from the Balanced Housing Program. The Balanced Housing Program is designed to assist municipalities in meeting its affordable housing obligation. One of the requirements of that particular program is to insure that projects have a certified plan. There used to be a time some years ago where it was only required of a town to merely submit the plan. They have changed the rules and have now required that all the towns must have a certified plan in order for the balanced housing dollars to be funneled through to the project and in order for a commitment letter to be issued. So we wind up virtually in the same place. HUD is requiring that there be a letter of commitment for all funds. So in order for DCA that administers the Balanced Housing Program to issue such a letter, they require that there be a resolution passed by the town indicating that it will commit dollars to this project in the event the plan or the town decides not follow through on the plan, the very same language that is in the prior resolution. We need this resolution in order for the Department of Community Affairs to issue a letter of commitment and HUD requires that for the closing.
President Greenbaum: What does the $750,000 number represent?
Mrs. Coe: It represents a part of the funding gap between what HUD is providing and the short fall.
President Greenbaum: So you are asking the Township to become the guarantor of the gap basically. That’s what is required.
Mr. McGroarty: One other thing about that. That dollar amount, this Council adopted a resolution October 11, 2005 I believe it was.....I have a copy here. You did not specify a dollar amount but what you did authorize was your Grants Coordinator to submit with Mrs. Coe’s consultant, an application to DCA for Balanced Housing Funds. The language in the resolution was something in the order....it kept it some what, whatever the maximum permitted under the rules which were cited. So you didn’t specify the dollar amount but the $750,000 is in the grant amount. That is where it comes from.
President Greenbaum: There is a difference obviously, between authorizing the Grants Coordinator to submit for a grant and becoming the guarantor of a project.
Mr. McGroarty: Absolutely, I just wanted to......
President Greenbaum: I understand that. Okay, so the bottom line is that if either of these resolutions were to be defeated this evening you would not have the sufficient documentation vis a vis HUD to close on the 14th.
Mrs. Coe: That is correct.
President Greenbaum: Okay, does anyone have any questions with respect to the second resolution?
Mr. Rattner: The second one actually disturbs me even more than the first. The first is just a financing which I don’t think we have the ability under statute right now to do. The second one leaves so many conditions, some that are outside of our control that would put us on the hook for $750,000. As I said in my email that I sent to everybody, I was giving different examples. If we come a few years down the road, we have a fight with HUD.....I mean with COAH and we fought them before and we had to settle. That is how we ended up with Bartley Ridge where they stripped the entire mountain which caused other problems. That if almost anything happens, if we decide to challenge COAH for any reason and they decide to play hardball and threaten revocation, not to issue a Fourth Round Certification because anytime in the future if we lose our certification or let it lapse, we would be on the hook for the $750,000. That is even a bigger one. When I put the two together I am talking six tax points which is getting pretty close to 10% of what our total tax is today. That is one heck of a burden to put on the taxpayers and in good conscience, I just couldn’t do that.
Mr. McGroarty: May I just clarify one thing? As you know the Bartley Ridge project/Woodfield as it is known today was not the result of COAH. That was a result of being sued and a settlement in 1984. Mount Olive being part of that Morris County party, or group if you will, the litigants that were involved in that. Now what happens with COAH and after that and subsequent to that, Mount Olive then in the second round submitted the Housing Element to COAH and was certified. I am not here to advocate one position or another but I just want to say, we are entitled, just as we are doing now to take issue with positions that COAH has raised with regard to our Housing Element. We are following the rules. We are under their jurisdiction now and as per those rules you are not subject, you are not vulnerable to a builders remedy lawsuit as long as you are operating within the timeframes that are provided to you. You have the absolute right to challenge, question, appeal decisions that are made at this point just by COAH’s staff not by COAH, not by Council itself. Once you have a Certified Housing Element it cannot be taken away certainly just because COAH’s staff disagrees. As long as you abide by the terms in the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan and the rules themselves, you will not be decertified. Fourth round is the Fourth Round. The money that is being allocated here or requested here will be spent by way of the Third Round. So I don’t think that you have to fear at least that part of it, that COAH may at some point get a bee in its bonnet as it were and come after you. That may happen with staff but that’s life. I mean they are not going to come out and decertify your Housing Element on that basis.
Mr. Rattner: Chuck, I understand that and that is the bureaucratic answer. The fact is that COAH changes their rules on an ongoing basis. We have been caught in that.
Mr. McGroarty: Well the one solution to that if I may? If you disagree and if you are placed in a position, whether it is this issue or any other with COAH, you will always have the right and your attorney will advise you to this, to withdraw from COAH’s jurisdiction and put yourselves with a court, a court appointed master, if you feel that COAH is treating you unfairly. I certainly don’t think you have reached that stage yet.
Mr. Rattner: Well, if we withdraw....it says if we withdraw. I am looking at what has been in the paper just this past week, that there is a lot of low income housing coming off the rolls because of the contracts. At the same time, the Governor has committed to another 100,000 units. I don’t even know if they got that many from the first two rounds. When you put everything together and with some of the law changes and some of the things, they are doing now and the way they are hurting....well, at least this town. I don’t have any faith in that, I just see that we are asked for personal guarantees on these two of $1.1 million dollars. We are having fights and we haven’t funded some of our fire engines that we thought we needed for absolute safety of our citizens right here and then we are going to commit this kind of money that we didn’t have for our own citizens over something else. I don’t think we can do it. We are in financial straights as it is and that is my whole concern.
President Greenbaum: Is there anyone else that has anything to discuss on this? Is there anyone from the public who wishes to be heard on the second resolution? Did you have anything that you wanted to add in conclusion?
Mrs. Coe: The only thing I would add is, of course no one knows what the future will hold and we have confidence that this organization will continue to assist the Township in meeting its obligation and that we have confidence that the Town will meet its obligation under the Fair Share Housing Element. We are certainly hopeful that it will not be necessary for that reason to have to commit dollars beyond what DCA has already committed to this project as well as the $384,000 that is already available. So we are just hoping very much that the Town would consider that in the terms of its plan in place with the assurance that it will be carried out effectively with the support of COAH and that no additional dollars will be required. We are hoping that you will consider that and also extend approval of the two resolutions on behalf of the Abiding Peace project.
President Greenbaum: Okay, thank you. We are voting on Resolution #3, which is the one that was moved and seconded.
ROLL CALL: Defeated - Mr. Tepper, Mr. Biondi, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum voted no.
President Greenbaum: I guess that means that we do not have to deal with Resolution #4, if #3 went down. Is that correct, you don’t need us to take a vote? Well, we have Resolution #4:
4. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Affirming an Intent to Bond or Provide Funds from General Revenue to Reimburse the DCA Neighborhood Preservation Non-Lapsing Revolving Fund for Funds Provided to an Affordable Housing Project to be Known as Abiding Peace – Phase II in the Event the Township Fails to Secure Substantive Certification of its Third Round Housing Element and Fair Share Plan.
President Greenbaum: Does anyone want to move that resolution? Seeing none, it dies for lack of moving.
President Greenbaum: At this point, I will open the meeting up to anyone who wishes to discuss any issue. Seeing none, I will close it to the public. I assume everyone will dispense with Council comments. You have something?
Mr. Rattner: This is a difficult situation because we realized that but this is the State. It is a State regulation. They know it is a good project. The organization, the Lutheran Social Ministries, has a track record in the State providing a needed service that the State could not provide and yet they put everybody into a situation, that is for a lot and is just not doable. It’s no different than your home, your own personal budget at home. It may be a very good program or something where you want to send your kids because they will benefit but where there is no money, there’s no money. I just think it just has to go back, this is worse then State mandate, State pay that we have always been fighting. This is where the State says that they want something but really with all the regulations, makes it just about impossible to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. It is just as disappointing to me, I don’t want to sit here and none of us do and put this project in jeopardy but we can’t also, put our taxpayers in jeopardy. Thank you, Mr. President.
President Greenbaum: Thank you.
Motion was made and seconded, all in favor and none opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 8:16 pm and the regularly scheduled Workshop commenced.
Robert J. Greenbaum, Council President
I, LISA M. 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 September 26, 2006.
________________________________________ Lisa M. Lashway, Township Clerk