Hainesport Township Meeting September 12th

Citizens Media TV Coverage of the Township Meeting was sponsored by Hainesport Democrats. Full video and a summary of the highlights can be found here.

The Township Meeting September 12th began with a moment’s silence for two fallen Hainesport EMS members, the victims of 9/11, and those killed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

There were two presentations as follows:

  • Administrator Paula Kosko presented some ideas for 2017 Project Proposals for the Municipal Park Development Grant ($250k max). Members of the public are encouraged to email their suggestions to Paula.
    • Repair the boat ramp at Flo’s and investigate Shared Services agreements with County to improve the parking lots
    • Replace the crushed tire/mulch surfaces of several playgrounds with the latest/best option
    • Improve benches along the trails and elsewhere
  • Sergeant Storm Colleton of the NJSP gave a report clearly in response to the recent “shots fired” incident and Hainesport
    Hainesport Township Meeting September
    Trooper Storm Colleton

    residents’ reactions to it

    • Despite being understaffed, the NJSP in Bordentown (36 Troopers, 4 Squads of 6-8 rotating every 12 hours) have contributed to Hainesport being a low crime area (Rated 20 on a scale of 1 to 100 in NJ.)
    • On August 11, at 3.46 a.m., the call of gunshots fired came in from Delaware Ave. The Trooper made contact with the caller 3 minutes 47 seconds later after circling the block
    • The caller and family seemed upset, and the Trooper reassured them by noting that other things such as car backfires can be mistaken for gunshots. He drove around the area in the dark but saw nothing suspicious although he stopped a car delivering newspapers.
    • The next day another “shots fired” complaint came in at around 8 a.m. and in daylight a search uncovered two projectiles. However, the residents of the home where they were found were uncooperative. These residents have since moved away from Hainesport.
    • The projectiles matched those used in another shooting, but when those suspects were interviewed they were also uncooperative.
    • The Trooper returned to the original caller to explain how the investigation was proceeding.
    • Trooper Storm ended by stating that the start up cost for a 10-man police department is staggering while the NJSP is free.
    • Anyone with any further questions should call the barracks on (609) 298-1171 and ask for him personally

Several residents and Committee Members thanked Trooper Storm for his service. Committeeman Dickinson asked if members of the public could please call Paula ((609) 267-2730 x 100) with issues rather than complaining on Facebook. Committeeman Fitzpatrick wondered if putting cameras in the parks would be a good use of the park grant application.

Ordinances 2017-9 and 2017-10 (Public Hearing and Final Adoption)

These provide the appropriation of $630,000 needed to acquire, and authorize the acquisition, of the Property known as 1404 and 1411 Route 38 (Block 99, Lot 9 and Block 100, Lot 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13). This is open land between the Creek and Route 38.

  • Mark Murdy asked how this purchase was going to help the township and why we were going so far into debt. He is not happy with this use of his tax dollars.
  • John Anderson of Rancocas Pathways Inc praised the purchase, citing features like the natural amphitheater and opportunities for revenue generation through existing on site buildings
  • Kitty McNelis quoted figures indicating that she felt the purchase was redundant and took away from possible commercial development
  • Mary Mcleery observed that there were two “lame ducks” on the Committee and asked if the purchase decision couldn’t be left for the new Committee members or put on the ballot for residents to vote on.
  • Ted Costa asked if there was the chance of any “Greenacres” funding, and if a study had been done confirming Hainesport needed additional parkland.
  • Lee Schneider asked if, given the previous nature of the site, the soil had been tested for possible contamination.
  • Tish Kelly hoped the township would maximize the conservation of open space while developing some commercial aspects adaptable to recreational purposes
  • Mayor Porto stated that the sale was contingent on due diligence including soil testing
  • Environmental Solicitor Steve Luttrell explained that the site had been dealt with on shut down by ISRA (Industrial Site Recovery Act), and that while the wetlands and open space should not have been impacted by the former site activities the area would be evaluated by an environmental consultant
  • Township Solicitor John Gillespie confirmed that the agreement of sale was subject to satisfactory soil testing. He added that the Route 38 facing portion would be subdivided for commercial development, and that the only other offers the broker had received would have placed either a Rock Crushing or a Storage business on the site
  • Mayor Porto reminded everyone that residents had twice approved an Open Space referendum and that the debt would put the township at 0.075% of its borrowing capacity.
  • Committeewoman Gilmore said she wished everyone could walk the property as it is truly beautiful with many possibilities such as a tackle shop/kayak rental on the front
  • Mary Mcleery called the process a sham because it was clear the Committee had decided before Public Hearing
  • Kathy Parker asked about the plans for the smaller property on the other side of 38 and Mayor Porto told her no plans although the area has been remediated. She asked why the Burlington County Times reported that the purchase had already been made, and Mayor Porto replied that the paper wrote it up that way in error.
  • Mark Murdy said he was still lost and he would have liked to walk the property to understand the purchase. Committeeman Fitzpatrick laughed and asked if the Committee were supposed to call Mr. Murdy. Murdy reminded Fitzpatrick that Committeewoman Gilmore had said she wished everyone could walk the property. Committeeman Fitzpatrick asked Mr Murdy what part he still did not understand. Did he want people breaking rocks there? Did he want housing?

Both Ordinances were passed without dissent.

Public Comment

  • Anna Evans
    • thanked the Committee for the action they were proposing to take on her letter which had been logged in as Correspondence. The letter advises the Committee that the $2.25 MHMUA billing fee is contractually incorrect and requests a refund to Hainesport residents plus a change to $1.50 going forward. The Solicitor will pursue this with the MHMUA
    • drew the Committee’s attention to the Citizen’s Media TV article on MHMUA overcharges due to incorrect meter sizes. She requested that the Township send an email to all subscribers to the Township email service suggesting Hainesport residents check the actual size of their water meter against that listed in their bill.
    • noted that according to the table in the article, every home but 1 on Hastings Lane (which is mainly townhouses) has a 1″ meter, whereas all the homes on Taft Court (which is entirely luxury single family dwellings) have 5/8″ meters. If the size of the meter is supposedly proportional to the expected water flow, why this difference? Surely the Taft Court homes (at least 2 1/2 baths, swimming pools, sprinkler systems?) see more water flow? She asked Hainesport Committee to check this out with the MHMUA.
  • Luis Lopez
    • announced that Commissioner Silcox had been confirmed as serving another term on the MHMUA
    • said that his video of the last township meeting got 1700 views
    • asked if Hainesport had a Pay-To-Play Ordinance. (The answer is no.)
  • Kitty McNelis asked why there wasn’t an ordinance to end Committeeman Fitzpatrick’s health benefits and was told they would end by January 1st 2019.
  • Jennings Black revisited the issue of the quality of the creek water behind his home. Paula and the DEP are on this.
  • Lee Schneider read a prepared statement regarding Senior Security issues. She had spoken with Robert Craig and he had advised her of the free Home Security Inspections available to senior (60+) residents of Burlington County through the Senior Services Unit. (Details of the opportunities and how to apply are readily available  on the Burlington County website.)

Comments from Administrator Paula Kosko

  • The township has purchased a speed radar machine for traffic calming and it is currently out on Bancroft Lane
  • Hainesport will be highlighted by the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce later this month
  • Grant Status Update
    • Community Development Block Grant – sidewalk and curb installation on Edwin/Albert/Washington should begin soon
    • Waiting to hear on DOT Municipal Aid for Phillips Road repair
  • Suggested the Committee tour the Robert Shinn Recycling Center in light of China’s tightened regulations

Comments from the Solicitor

  • Noted that we may pay even less to service the bond because of flexible financing
  • Responded to the question on Greenacres funding by saying it depended on where the subdivision for commercial is, and that it may not be advisable

Comments from the Committee

  • Committeewoman Gilmore
    • Thanked Trooper Colleton for all he does
    • Thanked John Anderson. Paula and Tish Kelly for all their work on the Land Purchase project
    • Advised everyone that there would be a further discussion of the TNR proposals presented last month at the Kenneth E. Street Building on Wednesday October 11th at 7 p.m.
  • Deputy Mayor Masciocchi
    • Thanked Sergeant Colleton for the presentation and said we should all lobby County and State to get the NJSP more funding
    • Said he voted for the Land Purchase because of its dual benefit as an Open Space and a Business component but he thought all the points residents made were valid especially the one raised by Lee Schneider
  • Committeeman Dickinson
    • Reminded everyone Hainesport Community Day is on September 23rd from 12-4
  • Committeeman Fitzpatrick had nothing to say
  • Mayor Porto
    • Said he was very thankful for the NJSP who provide a high level of professionalism
    • Is also thankful we are moving forward with the land purchase and that we got a very fair price.