Only in Highlands!

HIGHLANDS – In the absence of Councilman KL Martin and over the negative vote of Councilwoman Linda Mazzola, three members of the governing body once again introduced the $10 million bonding ordinance for construction of a new borough hall on Route 36 at its meeting Wednesday night. Giving no reason for overriding the vote of the two members necessary to approve the ordinance, council set yet another public hearing on the defeated bond for its June 16 meeting. The ordinance have been introduced in April and following the public hearing few weeks ago, fell to gain the necessary votes for approval, to the applause or residents in attendance at the meeting. While no member of council gave any reason of his own why the defeated code was being re-introduced, Mayor Carolyn Broullon said while she is not speaking for him, she understands Martin did not understand that his negative vote would defeat the ordinance. Law requires that four of the five members must approve a bonding ordinance, and with Martin voting with Mazzola, the original ordinance failed last month. Broullon continued to decline to give a reason for introduction of the new ordinance, in spite of no fewer than three pleas from the public to do so. Nor did Martin give any notice or excuse, nor anyone give any reason why he was not in attendance at the meeting, since he apparently not given any reason that was released to the public in spite of their queries. Although Borough Attorney Brian Chabarek did not weigh in on the question, Broullon said at least twice during the meeting that introducing once again an ordinance that had been defeated only weeks before is not illegal nor improper. No member of the governing body made any comment on a citizen’s suggestion the issue be put on a public referendum. Mazzola, the lone vote at this week’s meeting against the introduction, received applause for her vote but also received no response to her question on why Martin was not in attendance. Broullon interrupted the councilwoman to warn residents in the audience that if “you don’t hold your tongue you will be asked to leave.” During the public portion, former Councilwoman Claudette D’Arrigo likened the introduction of a second $10 million bond over the negative vote to a Presidential election when “you don’t like who was elected, so you hold another election,” a comparison Broullon said was entirely different Resident Michele Diebold said spoke on the re-introduction, saying she was “in total shock” at the governing body disregarding the original vote and opined that “it borders on the illegal,” but at the very least “is not right.” Broullon chided the resident, saying she was speaking “to the room you packed,” and said “bullying behavior” is not necessary, “we are neighbors, we can disagree, but we can have conversation.” But she declined to say why the ordinance was being brought up again. Another resident also challenged Mayor and Council on inaction it took on to other ordinances concerning parking regulations and specific roads set for a public hearing and an introduction, setting public hearings for meetings in June and July. Broullon said an ordinance set for Wednesday’s meeting was put on hold “because we’re still doing some tweaking on it,” and the second ordinance on parking, was set for a later introduction , probably next month, and a July 14 public hearing because “there are still discussions between the chief and attorney>’ Police Chief Robert Burton said later in the meeting he has met with one group of residents concerning parking in the Highland Aven area and invited other residents who wanted to discuss parking to contact him during his regular business hours for discussion and information. “Seek me out,” he said, explaining the Mayor acted to withhold the introduction “for reasons.” While the governing body unanimously approved applying for two grants, the Urban Parks initiative the state introduced this year, as well as Green Acres funding, both to finance the reconstruction and renovations to the Snug Harbor skate park, it conceded to resident Tricia Rivera it did not apply for a recreation improvement grant for which she had provided information a while back. The grants for which the borough is applying could possibly come with a 25 per cent grant, or approximately$150,000 ordaining the remaining $400,000 repayable over 20 years at an interest rate to be determined at the time payments would become due. Broullon said the first step is “to see how much we can get from the state” and pointed out when grants and loans are announced and awarded, the borough will still have the right to reject them if it were in a position not to finance the improvement. Residents are in strong agreement repairs and renovations should be made to the skate park to make it safe and useable, with some describing it as a major and needed improvement for the borough. Several have promised fund raising efforts to finance a part of the overall cost . Council unanimously approved the peddler licensing code to allow for a larger variety of service oriented vendors, approved liquor license renewals for the coming year, eliminated a 2007 ordinance that set parking restrictions on Washington Ave necessary at that time, and now, according to Broullon, no longer necessary, and amending the budget it had approved in April. Each of the proposed, held, or approved resolutions and ordinances as well as approved and cancelled liquor licenses are available to read on the borough of Highlands official website.


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