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Montclair Township


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Council Minutes 01-24-06

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MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY January 24, 2006

The Council of the Township of Montclair, in the County of Essex, met in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 205 Claremont Avenue, for a Special Meeting at 7:14 P.M.

Present: Mayor Remsen, Deputy Mayor Michaelson and Councilors Freier, Lang, Mattox, Schlager and Tobin.

Absent: None

STATEMENT OF SUNSHINE NOTICE

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Mayor Remsen stated: “This is a Special Meeting of the Council of the Township of Montclair. This hearing is on the second reading of an ordinance amending Section 347-12 of the Township Code which was introduced and passed first reading on December 27, 2005.”

Mayor Remsen asked if there was anyone present wishing to be heard concerning the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Bruce Kanze, Headmaster, Montclair Cooperative School, believes schools such as the MCS, are valuable resources to the community. He asked that the Council allow the current ordinance to remain in place.

Mr. Ed Wheaton, 12 Warren Place, urged the Council to pass this ordinance as drafted because of safety and traffic issues in residential areas.

Ms. Maura Lockhart, 37 Irwin Park, asked the Council to reject the proposed ordinance and emphasized that the MCS functions very well under current zoning conditions.

Mr. Stephen Best, 46 Llewellyn Road, believes that the proposed changes “don’t go far enough” when safety is factored in.

Mr. William Diggs, 57 Llewellyn Road, supports the proposed changes especially as they impact his neighborhood.

Ayotunde Okeowo, 8 Curtis Terrace, stated that Llewellyn Road is not an appropriate site for a school.

Ms. Ellen Fishman, 92 Norwood Avenue, expressed her strong opposition to the proposed ordinance and believes it penalized small, independent schools.

Gai Yellin, 138 Buckingham Road, also urged the Council to vote against the proposed ordinance and emphasized that the MCS is a Montclair institution.

Mr. George Gregory, 121 Harrison Avenue, believes that any school located on Llewellyn Road would be a “traffic and safety nightmare.”

Mr. Dan McCarthy, 38 Warren Place, urged a “yes” vote because the current ordinance has many shortcomings.

Ms. Ruth Assansson, 4 Curtis Terrace, reported a large number of cars on Llewellyn which created a safety issue. She believes this would be the case if a private school was sited in that area.

Ms. Jody Adams, 16 Warren Place, displayed photos of car lines at MKA’s Brookside Campus and asked the Council to adopt the proposed ordinance.

Ms. Alicia Carter, 8 Glenside Terrace, believes the proposed ordinance is “too restrictive.”

Ms. Barbara Fox, attorney for MKA, provided statistics on the MKA “pick-up/drop-off and parking system” and asked the Council to maintain the existing ordinance which already provides planning safeguards.

Ms. Edith Vreeland, 93 Harrison Avenue, opposes the current ordinance.

Mr. Cal Trevenan, attorney for Llewellyn Road neighbors, cited Section 347-12 of the Township Code which does not distinguish between public and private schools.

Dr. Tom Nammack, 36 Lloyd Road, Headmaster, MKA, expressed concern regarding future relationships between MKA and the Township. He noted that MKA believes in respectful communication between the school and its neighbors to ameliorate any problems.

He referenced the law of “unintended consequences” which may produce undue financial hardships.

Ms. Gail Johnson, 91 Harrison Avenue, expressed support for the proposed ordinance.

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Ms. Barbara Adams, 18 Llewellyn Road, stated that adoption of this ordinance will ensure a “better quality of life.”

Mr. John Sherman, MCS parent, asked the Council for the motivating force in revising the current school ordinance.

Ms. Susan Rusk, 786 Valley Road, MCS staff member, believes there has been a campaign of misinformation regarding the MCS. She urged a “no” vote this evening.

Barnett Kreger, 17 Warren Place, realtor, argued that new residents don’t necessarily move to Montclair because of the number of private schools.

Mr. Richard Sunshine, CFO, MKA, reported that MKA is a diverse school with children from varying economic backgrounds.

Ms. Maxie Bailey, 5 Warren Place, asked the Council to approve the proposed ordinance. (letter on file).

Mr. Michael Abrams, Attorney for MCS, stated that the application for a new coop school at 32 Llewellyn Road, will be withdrawn. He believes the proposed ordinance will have a detrimental effect on all the schools within the Township.

Mr. Peter Steck, Planning Consultant, raised several legal concerns regarding 347-12 including:

Definitions of conditional uses

Exemption of site plan for public schools

Restriction of private schools vs. public.

Street widths (301-18)

Residential site improvement standards: driveway 200 ft.

Definition of “adequate” as too vague.

Parking requirements

Traffic reviews

Off tract improvement payments

Veto power

Mr. Chris Swenson, 26 Warren Place, stated that the two reasons for adopting the ordinance are fairness

and safety.

Mr. Jim Lukenda, 37 Erwin Park Road, MCS parent, does not believe the proposed ordinance will be beneficial to the Township.

***

Township Attorney Alan Trembulak recommended that the Council refrain from voting on 347-12 until he can complete additional research on this matter.

COUNCIL COMMENTS

Councilor Schlager stated that this ordinance is not about the MCS, but rather about safety.

Deputy Mayor Michaelson believes that the MCS proposal did not meet the necessary requirements; however, she does believe in choice in the pursuit of education. She noted that if the new ordinance was adopted applicants would still have to present to the Planning Board for review or possibly Board of Adjustment review. She advocates different parking and driveway requirements. She also believes the Council should be aware of any economic impact.

Mayor Remsen stated that he is inclined to support some changes to the school ordinance for safety and traffic reasons. He also is concerned by the proposed parking requirements and the specificity of the traffic study.

Councilor Mattox, neighbor of MKA Middle School, reiterated concerns similar to those addressed by the Deputy Mayor and the Mayor. He believes the proposed ordinance is “a bit unenlightened” and overly restrictive and that the current ordinance can be modified to make appropriate changes.

Councilor Freier is in favor of acting on the ordinance this evening with his proposed amendments.

Councilor Lang stated that “this ordinance is about things that change” and that should be the concern of the Governing Body. She also would like to receive the recommendations from Township Attorney Alan Trembulak and digest the changes presented by Councilor Freier earlier this evening.

The Council unanimously moved to POSTPONE this ordinance until the Council meeting of February 28, 2006.

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Mayor Remsen announced that the Personnel Subcommittee met with the Township Manager earlier this evening regarding his evaluation.

***

At 9:46 P.M., on motion made by Mayor Remsen and duly seconded, the Special Meeting was adjourned by unanimous vote.

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EDWARD REMSEN MAYOR

ATTEST:

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LINDA S. WANAT MUNICIPAL CLERK