Council Discusses If Dog Walking Should be Allowed on Borough Property

At the April 24 SLH Borough Council meeting, Council members discussed whether or not to amend the dog ordinance to allow dogs to be walked in Borough parks. Currently, dogs are not allowed anywhere on Borough property. Also, there is a leash law and a “pick up after your pet” ordinance. If you could not attend the meeting, here is a video clip of the discussion:

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Council Discusses Whether to Allow Dog Walking on Borough Property

Are you a dog owner? Do you want to be able to legally walk your dog on Borough property? The SLH Borough Council is discussing whether to allow dogs to be walked in the parks. Councilman Rich Diver argues that it is a health hazard because people don’t pick up after their dogs and there is no way to pick up urine.

Councilman James Shuler says there are already places to walk dogs, namely the streets and curbs. He agreed that no one picks up after their pets, although there is an ordinance requiring this. Mr. Shuler went on to say that children and dogs do not mix and dogs should not be allowed where children are playing.

Councilwoman Sara King said she has grandchildren who are petrified of dogs and that it is not a good thing to mix the two — dogs and parks — “I love animals but I would never think of walking an animal in a park where children are enjoying themselves.” She said it is a difficult thing to monitor if someone now is walking their dog in a park but that the police need to be notified when someone is dog-walking so it can be dealt with. She felt it was too much of a danger to have dogs in the parks when children are present.

Mayor O’Brien said it sounded like it was not the will of the Council to allow dogs on Borough property, so he suggested having areas like along Wreck Pond at Shore Road. Mr. Diver said if there was a park area not used for sports or where children played, he was not adverse to designating it as a dog walking area. Mayor O’Brien said he would put together some suggestions of where dogs could be allowed and the Council members agreed to consider it.

BREAKING NEWS: Republicans Sweep Council Race: Tompey Top Vote Getter, Diver a Close Second

Local voters took the Republican slate of Council candidates to victory tonight, giving Republicans all 6 seats on the Borough Council. The vote tally being reported is: Joseph Tompey (R) with 1,315; Richard Diver (R) with 1,246; Nathanial “Nate” Novak (D) with 1,168; and Arthur Herner (D) with 1,143.

The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions Notifies Municipalities of NJ Drought Watch Declaration

According to Jennifer Coffey of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, fourteen NJ counties have been escalated from a drought watch to warning, and four counties remain at drought watch status because of persistent low rainfall, approximately 13 inches below normal.

Drought Warning: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren

Drought Watch: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties.

Normal: Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May counties

ANJEC is asking your municipal officials and public works departments to skip lawn watering and post the drought watch declaration on your municipal website and community bulletin boards.

ANJEC recommends water conservation throughout the Garden State. Groundwater sources and streams are classified as moderately, severely or extremely dry for the entire state. http://njdrought.org/status.html

Please conserve water by:
• Cease lawn watering and washing of cars
• Fix any in home leaks, including leaking faucets, shower heads, and toilets.
• For more water saving tips, visit: http://www.sjwatersavers.org/tips-and-resources1.html

Ask Governor Christie to release the Water Supply Plan
Christie sits on water plan as N.J.’s drought affects drinking water

Join the SaveH2OCoalition’s efforts and sign the petition to the Governor at: http://www.saveh2onj.org/sign-the-petition/

Thank you for your conservation efforts!

SLH Council Adopts Resolution Setting 2016 Salaries

Following the July 11 passage of the Salary & Wage Ordinance, the Council voted unanimously on September 12 to set the 2016 salaries.

The Borough’s top three positions saw the largest salary increases:

  • Public Works Director: $90,000, up $4,500 over last year’s $86,500
  • Police Chief: $150,858, up $2,958 over last year’s $147,900
  • Borough Administrator: $113,715, up $2,329 over last year’s $111,486

At the other end of the spectrum, the Borough’s lowest paid workers remained in that category with little to no increases.

  • Part-time Public Works Laborer: $15.50 per hour, unchanged from last year
  • Zoning Board of Adjustment Secretary: $2,550 annually, unchanged from last year
  • Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics: $500 annually, unchanged from last year
  • Recreation Director: $5,712 annually, unchanged from last year

Not cited in the Resolution, but named in the 2016 Salary and Wage Ordinance are the school crossing guards, who received a .25 cent per hour raise to $13.75, over last year’s rate of $13.50

Other items of interest:

Tax Assessor: $25,563 over last year’s rate of $20,160. The assessor has office hours of one hour per week. The assessor is a tenured position. Additionally, as this position falls in the category of a statutory employee, the position is guaranteed a raise matching the highest percentage given to any other employee in a year.

Tax Assessment Field Assistant: $6,636, up from $6,506 in 2015.

Borough Engineer: $135.00 per hour. This is a new budget line over 2016. Previously, this service was a professional appointment to a firm that would bid the work. With the hiring of former engineer Joe May as the Borough’s Director of Public Works, he was given the dual role as a salaried Borough Engineer.

Salaries were not given for either the Public Works employees or the police, both of whom are under contract to the Borough. However, in 2015, the public works employees’ salaries ranged from $38,000 a year for a full-time employee with 1 year of experience up to $88,255 for a full-time employee with 30 years of experience. Public works employees hired after 2009 do not receive any longevity awards.

The 2015 police salaries ranged from $105,756 for a 5-year employee, up to $118,558 for a 20-year employee. Police hired after 2014 do not receive any longevity awards.

Longevity was a program implemented by the Borough over 20 years ago when it was difficult to attract and retain talent. In both DPW and the Police Dept., workers receive a 3% award for 5 years of service, a 6% award for 10 years of service, and a 9% award for 15 years of service. This award has now been negotiated out of the contracts, but employees hired while the award was in force are grandfathered to receive it.

Read the full text of the 2016 Salary & Wage Ordinance and Resolution using the links below:

2016-sw-ordinance

2016-sw-resolution

 

 

 

Spring Lake Tap House Requests Postponement

The Spring Lake Tap House requested a postponement from the June 30 meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment which was to hear that business’s application for an outdoor dining expansion. Neighbors of the business who arrived at the hearing were disappointed to know that the application had been moved. The matter will be heard at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Adjustment on Thursday, July 28.

Council Discusses $400,000 Community House Expansion

At the Monday, June 28th, meeting of the Spring Lake Heights Borough Council, the governing body and citizen attendees heard a presentation by local architect Paul Damiano for a $400,000 expansion to the Community House on Ocean Road and 9th Avenue. Damiano, a former member of the Borough’s Planning Board, noted that the original plans for expansion dated to 2004 when the Borough applied to Monmouth County’s Community Block Development Grant (CBDG) program. The proposal at that time, priced at approximately $250,000, was rejected.

Three years ago, Borough administrator Jay Delaney revived the old proposal and resubmitted it to the County. After several funding cycles, the project, now valued at $300,000, was finally awarded approximately $150,000. Earlier this year, the Council approved rehiring Damiano for $12,500 to revise the original plans. The revision includes some renovation to existing space, such as new wood flooring and a reduced stage.

Expansion of the facility includes two meeting rooms so that tables can be left set up at all times. The existing kitchen would be completely overhauled and the stove replaced with a microwave. The project is now valued at $400,000.

The new bathrooms which were redone in 2011 with a grant from the Spring Lake Heights Improvement Foundation would be torn out and replaced with new, expanded bathrooms. Damiano explained this is a requirement to accommodate the expanded number of people the building would hold. Additionally, all ADA-compliant work done in 2011 would also be redone as the back entrance would be relocated.

Seeing that several members of the audience wished to speak, Mayor Tom O’Brien graciously opened a public comment session specifically for this issue, saying that community members should have the ability to provide input on a community facility.

Cathy Hahn, who chairs the Borough’s Beautification Committee, expressed concern that the stove was being removed. She noted that when she hosts the Committee’s annual Tea to raise funds for the building that she needs to keep kettles boiling and food heated.

Councilman Art Herner remarked that no one used the stove anymore, but had their events catered instead. Hahn disagreed with this statement, as did resident John Tangeman who noted that people often cook trays of food and bring them to the facility to reheat them there. Damiano remarked that he would design whatever he was instructed to but had been told to remove the stove.

Hahn noted that many improvements were sorely needed. “The floor has needed replacing for 25 years, the kitchen for at least that,” she remarked. She asked, however, why the Borough felt it necessary to go beyond needed improvements and expand the space. Councilman Herner said it was because, for once, Spring Lake Heights was going to do something right and spend money upfront instead of trying to do something as cheaply as possible. Hahn pointed out that the project grows in price every time it is discussed and asked where all the money was coming from.

Borough Administrator Jay Delaney said that in addition to the $150,000 grant from the CBDB, he had identified approximately $45,000 available in the general fund and another $200,000 in the Borough’s Open Space Fund. Environmental Commission chair Kathleen Crippen noted that the Open Space Fund was specifically a tax to buy and maintain open space included in the Borough’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI). Currently, the Community House and adjoining park are not on the Inventory.

She noted, too, that according to the NJDEP’s Green Acres program, which oversees open space, that money could not be spent on building funds unless it was a historic building listed in the ROSI. A search of the NJDEP Historic Preservation Office’s NJ & National Registers of Historic Places showed that The Community House is not currently listed on either Register as a historic property or being located within a historic district. She suggested that the Borough Attorney follow up with the legal department at Green Acres to confirm what the Borough needed to do to legally spend the funds and not run the risk of lawsuits.

Resident Nancy Maclearie Hayduk also questioned the need for such a large expansion and said the Borough needed to be mindful of the residents who live behind the Community House. Using the architect’s model of the project she noted that the building would come out further in the back than it does now, bringing it closer to neighbors. Hayduk suggested that Councilman Herner, who chairs the Borough’s Parks and Recreation Committee, convene a committee of residents to provide input on what was really needed at the facility. Herner demurred, saying committees could go either way and could take up time. Citing Hahn’s years of commitment to the facility and her knowledge of its use, Hayduk urged Herner to rely on Hahn “as a committee of one” and involve her in any ongoing discussions about the expansion.

Mayor O’Brien asked for a motion to close the public comments when everyone who wanted to speak was finished. He thanked Damiano for his time in giving the presentation.

Any resident interested in the proposed design may visit Borough Hall and request to see the site plans. Anyone wishing to provide input should attend the next Council meeting at 8 PM on July 11, and speak during the Voice of the Public.

Spring Lake Tap House Seeks Expansion Approval from Zoning Board

In a follow-up to last month’s Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, the Spring Lake Tap House will again seek approval for expanding its use to include outdoor dining (see “Tap House Application Carried to June 30th BOA Meeting” on http://www.heightsonline.wordpress.com). The application was tabled as it was missing a stormwater management plan. Also, Board members expressed an interest in seeing a revised plan with less than the proposed 84% lot coverage to host an additional 64 seats.

Revised plans include an inground drywell and a reduction in outdoor seating to 44 seats and an 82% lot coverage.

In the May meeting, Tap House representatives argued that the outdoor dining area would be a great benefit to residents because it currently is a much sought-after accommodation. They felt there would be no impact on parking, as they indicated that no one drives anymore, but uses Uber, taxis, or bicycles. Mercer Avenue residents at that meeting complained, however, about the current difficulty in parking with bar patrons taking up both sides of the street. Late-night noise and litter were also cited as problems.

As with all municipal meetings, the Zoning Board of Adjustment is subject to the NJ State Open Public Meetings Act and all residents are encouraged to attend and speak. The meeting will be held Thursday, June 30,7:30 PM,Spring Lake Heights Borough Hall,555 Brighton Avenue.

EXPANDED ATHLETIC USE OF ALLAIRE ROAD PARK?

In June 2013, residents presented the governing body with a petition requesting the restoration of Allaire Road Park to its original state by preserving the remaining trees, replanting new trees and greenery in the Grove, and making the walking and biking paths safe.

The petition noted that in light of a discussion at the May 13th Council meeting to expand the athletic fields at Allaire Road Park, residents felt that the grounds of the elementary school would be a more suitable location for such a facility.

A Parks Committee made up of town representatives and residents was created to meet and discuss the issue. All findings were presented at a June 2, 2014 special meeting of the Borough Council. Residents were largely against expanded use, mainly due to increased traffic, noise, lighting, and the cost to the taxpayer.

Following this, the Borough Council entered into negotiations with the SLH Board of Education and ultimately struck an agreement to shift $100,000 out of the Borough’s Open Space Tax Fund over to the school to renovate the playing fields. In exchange for the $100,000, the Borough’s Recreation Program would have use of the renovated fields.

That work at the school has been completed and paid for. New trees are being planted around the Grove area. However, some parents are again coming before the Council and proposing expanded athletic use of Allaire Road Park.

Even though this issue had been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, it is being raised again. Residents wishing to speak for or against this matter are invited to attend the next meeting of the SLH Borough Council:

Monday, June 13
8:00 PM
Spring Lake Heights Borough Hall
555 Brighton Avenue

Tap House Application Carried to June 30th BOA Meeting

The Spring Lake Heights Board of Adjustment tonight carried the application by the Spring Lake Tap House to the June 30th meeting. Missing from the testimony were several points, most noticeably what type of stormwater management system would be installed. The Tap House is requesting 84% lot coverage where 75% is the maximum allowed by law and where they currently have 78%. The increase in impervious surface coverage produces more rainwater run-off that needs to be dealt with so it will not flood roadways or neighboring areas.

The Tap House representatives did present testimony as to how an outdoor dining area would be of great benefit to the residents because it is currently a much sought-after accommodation. Board members asked extensive questions about the capacity – currently, the bar has seating for 119. The outdoor dining area would seat 64, but the applicant explained these would not be in addition to the 119 allowed indoors. Instead, bar management would police the number of people admitted so that the total number of patrons seated at any time, indoor AND outdoor, would remain at 119.

The applicants felt there would be no impact on parking, as they indicated that no one drives anymore, but uses Uber, taxis, and bicycles. However, Mercer Avenue residents who attended spoke of the current parking situation with cars parked on both sides of the streets and in local business. The bar currently has 22 on-site parking spaces, where 37 are required. The proposed expansion would require 58 on-site spaces, and the bar is requesting a variance to provide only the existing 22 spaces.

Board Chairman Dennis Pearsall expressed an interest in seeing a revised application that would not expand the impervious service from the current 78%. The applicants indicated that they would attempt to show this at the June 30th meeting, along with plans for the stormwater management system.

Of the Mercer Avenue residents who spoke, one indicated that more of her neighbors would have come to speak as they were opposed to the expansion but they “were not invited.” Board Attorney Mark Kitrick explained that the hearing was an open public meeting and that anyone could attend and speak either for or against the proposal. He explained that residents living within 200 feet of the application, by law, had to be notified of the hearing but that the hearing was not limited to them.

Heightsonline will present the video recording of the hearing on our YouTube channel in a few days. All residents are welcome to come to the June 30th meeting.