Minutes: September 16, 2021
These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting that took place on 09/16/2021. Copies of the recording are available at the office of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (the "MUA").
1. Call to Order
The regular meeting of the MUA was convened at 7:00 pm.
2. Statement of Compliance
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 213, PL 1975, adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, PL 1975 of this regular meeting was provided to the public and the press on December 22, 2020 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the MUA as well as posted on the website.
3. Salute to the Flag
4. Roll Call of Members and Professionals
The following members were present:
The following professionals were present:
Donelle Bright, Administrator; Rich Wenner, MUA Attorney; Steven Benosky, Engineer; James Schappell, Engineer; Jaclyn McCabe, Recording Secretary; Mayor Howard Burrell
5. Open Meeting to the Public (for Agenda Items Only)
Mr. Kearney motioned to open to the public, which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker, and carried by unanimous vote. Ms. McCabe informed there were no members of the public and did not receive any correspondence to read into the record.
Mr. McDermott made the motion to close to the public, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney, and carried by unanimous vote.
6. Approval of Bills: #21-48 Approval of Bills
Mr. McDermott stated he found a typo on a bill and contacted Ms. McCabe and the issue is now resolved. Mr. Pitsker inquired where the budget stands. Ms. Bright responded it is in good standing and the 3rd quarter report will be on one of the next two meetings.
Mr. Pitsker made the motion to approve Resolution #21-48 which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and declared carried by affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Wheaton, and Mr. McDermott.
7. Approval of Minutes
a. August 19, 2021
Mr. Kearney made the motion to approve the August 19,2021 minutes, which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and declared carried by affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. Pitsker, Mr. McDermott, and Mr. Galway.
b. September 2, 2021
Mr. McDermott made the motion to approve the September 2,2021 minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Shortway and declared carried by affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Shortway, and Mr. Galway.
8. Administrator Update
Ms. Bright updated the railings were installed for the locations addressed in the safety review.
Ms. Bright stated that regarding the sewer service area the Land Use Board held the public hearing and final approval from the State is now needed. Ms. Bright added Ms. Caldwell, the township planner, will let us know when she hears from the State and then we can move onto to the expanded sewer service area.
Ms. Bright stated that there has been an update on the Snowshoe and Alpine homes. Ms. Bright was notified from construction that they were approached by the developer to install septic systems instead of sewers as they do not have enough funds for the sewer lines. Ms. Wheaton questioned if that is allowable do to the fact that the property is in the sewer service area. Ms. Bright responded that although they are in the sewer service area there aren't any mains outside of the property to connect to. Mr. Wenner added that he would like the maps reviewed before responding and there will be information on the next meeting.
Ms. Bright asked Mr. Schappell if the PS2 environmental planning document has been uploaded. Mr. Schappell responded one piece is outstanding and this will hopefully be completed tomorrow. Ms. Bright clarified the document is for IBank funding.
Ms. Bright stated Mr. Schappell spoke to the county in regards to the paving project that is starting on Rt. 515 and plan of the MUA to install infrastructure. Ms. Bright added the township Business Administrator has also tried to contact the county and explain our needs; however, they are still planning on starting the project. Ms. Bright stated to date the last piece of correspondence requested from the county was what the towns anticipated start date will be; which is unknown at this time. Mr. Schappell suggested instead of going to Suez first and creating a plan; that installing the dry water main should be the immediate focus. Mr. Schappell added he spoke with the DEP and they informed a permit would not be needed to install a dry main and therefore, installation could be completed quickly. Mr. Schappell added one thing to keep in mind is the availability of pipe at the current time; however, a rough schedule will be completed to provide to the county. Mr. Galway asked if we are requesting that the county not pave or are we requesting a waiver to rip up the newly paved roadway. Ms. Bright responded that we would like the county to not pave until after the infrastructure is in the ground. Mr. Galway inquired where the paving will begin. Ms. Bright stated the paving will begin at the far end of Rt. 515 near Rt. 23 and it is unknown weather or not they will be able to complete the project until the spring. Ms. Bright added moving quickly in submitting a timeline could be in our favor. Mr. Schappell stated he would be able to complete a timeline by early next week. Mr. Furrey requested Mr. Schappell review the steps needed to get to the construction phase. Mr. Schappell stated without having to obtain a permit the process is much smoother; however, a survey is needed for the bid documents. Mr. Schappell continued that the documentation from Dewberry would take about a month before it is ready for the bid process, followed by procuring materials, with the intent of finishing by spring. Mr. Furrey stated the reason he invited the mayor was to speak about the verbal word the county has given and to ask for his assistance in obtaining a formal response from the county. Mayor Burrell thanked Mr. Furrey for the invitation to the meeting stating he is honored to be involved. Mayor Burrell continued that he has addressed the issue that Mr. Furrey is verbalizing and he hopes that the MUA and the public know that the administration does view this as a priority. Mayor Burrell added that the MUA manages the townships resources and we will work on this together. Mayor Burrell continued that he is unsure of how many close friends we have in the county but they have been good about the paving and the administration does not want to go over their heads; we have received a verbal answer, however, it does need to be in writing. Mayor Burrell stated his commitment to the MUA is that he will push to obtain a response in writing and if the administration is not working quickly enough to let them know. Mr. Furrey responded he appreciated the mayor's comments. Mr. Pitsker requested clarification pertaining to the permitting of the dry lines and what will happen when they are put in service. Mr. Schappell answered that when they are installed and will be dry no permit is required; however, once it is put in service, they will need to comply with the safe drinking water act standards.
Mr. Pitsker inquired what the procedures for permitting are once the lines activated and pressure tested. Mr. Schappell responded he believes the current dry line has already been pressure tested; however, is unsure of what has actually been done before and if it was permitted. Mr. Benosky added that usually when the lines are made active you would be able to pressure test them at the same time but more information is needed as the existing lines have been sitting inactive for an extended period of time. Mr. Furrey added as a fact that the lines were pressure tested ten years ago so they will need to be done again. Mr. Pitsker asked if the lines were sealed after they were pressure tested or are they completely dry to which he was answered they are completely dry. Mr. Galway asked in the time since the lines were installed were any new requirements issued in which they would have to be replaced; for example, the lines on Theta and Omega Drive are smaller. Mr. Schappell answered that the smaller lines are 4 inch which are no longer installed and there are many 4-inch lines still operational as they are grandfathered in. Mr. Schappell continued the lines on Main Street are the required 8-inch lines and as Suez installed them, they are most likely ducto-iron and should be fine. Mr. Furrey added that the lines on Theta and Omega Drive are owned by Suez so it would be their responsibility to upgrade them. Mr. Galway inquired if there will be any issues with installing the lines on Rt. 94 as they were recently paved. Ms. Bright answered there will be a process in which we put in a request, which will then be denied, and then we can escalate the request to a higher level for approval. Mayor Burrell asked if the water mains could be placed on the sides of the roadway rather than in the middle so the paving does not become destroyed. Mr. Schappell responded that it is possible; however, it depends on right of way and storm infrastructure and if it is wide enough. Mayor Burrell added that this may address the entire issue regarding the paving on rt 94 and if there are alternative ways to complete this project it should be investigated. Mr. Schappell stated this may be possible but hard to say without a survey. Mr. Benosky added the DOT informed of an additional project on Rt 94 however, it seems to be more guardrail work then paving, as they have been e-mailing updates. Mr. Furrey asked if the design is a big effort after the survey is completed. Mr. Schappell replied that the survey is time consuming but once it is completed the design is not a big effort. Mr. Furrey inquired if the MUA or the Town will put out bid documents. Ms. Bright responded she reached out to the town attorney to produce a professional service agreement for Dewberry for purposes of tracking the ARP funds. Ms. Bright continued the payment will come from the town as they have the ordinance in place. Mr. Furrey directed Mr. Benosky and Mr. Schappell to submit a proposal to the town council for consideration. Ms. Wheaton suggested correspondence or a letter of recommendation also be submitted from the MUA to the town to convey why the recommendation is being made. Mayor Burrell responded it would be a good idea to submit correspondence. Ms. Wheaton questioned the additional paving on RT 94 and if a different approval would be necessary since it is not a county road. Mr. Benosky replied nothing is being done on RT 94 right now and it is a more formal approval process when the time comes. Mr. Furrey responded he believes there is work to be done on RT 94 as the loop between RT 515 and RT 94 need to be connected. Mr. Benosky added that the work on RT 94 will be mostly guardrails but will look into it further. Ms. Bright clarified the intent is to bring the pipe up and create a loop; however, right now the focus is getting the pipe installed on RT 515 as they are currently paving. Ms. Bright continued when we are ready to do RT 94, we will have to apply to the state to obtain approval to open the road. Ms. Bright added there have been e-mails sent to the State resulting in receiving a phone call; they realize that people are utilizing the ARP funding and will be granting approvals.
Mr. Pitsker asked if the area we need to focus on is from the Daily Bean to where Rt 515 ends and there needs to be a realistic view on what can be completed short term. Mr. Schappell responded that is the area which is driving the urgency of the project. Mr. Shortway inquired if the stream at Fisherman's Pond, next to the fire station, represents a problem and would a permit be needed. Mr. Schappell stated he believes that the area in question is secured in and enclosed conduit. Mr. Schappell shared his screen to review the areas in question. Mr. Furrey asked Ms. Bright if Dewberry will still need to make a formal proposal before the work is started. Ms. Bright answered since the ordinance is in place a professional service agreement will need to be put before the town council. Mayor Burrell added a strong recommendation letter coming from the MUA is needed so as not to put Mr. Shortway and Mr. Pitsker in a position as if they are asking for the recommendation as some could make that claim. Mr. Furrey requested Ms. Bright to draft a letter for him to sign. Ms. Wheaton asked if a motion or resolution is necessary for Ms. Bright to draft the letter. Mr. Shortway and Mr. Wenner agreed that the board is moving as a body and a formal motion is necessary. Ms. Wheaton made the motion to move forward on drafting a letter for professional service agreement, seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried by unanimous vote.
Mr. Furrey stated he spoke with Mr. Schappell about providing water service to areas with water main before all construction is finished. Mr. Schappell stated there are mains on Main Street and cross to Acme and there has been discussion for the MUA to operate own water distribution system. Mr. Schappell continued since mains are in the ground, we can run the lines as soon as the details are worked out with Suez; right now, steps could be started for a distribution system under the MUA. Mr. Furrey asked Ms. Bright if the charter was only for wastewater since we are an MUA. Ms. Bright responded that is correct and because of the way the MUA operates, the township would have to establish a charter for a water utility and give it to the MUA to run. Mr. Furrey asked Mr. Wenner what the steps to establish the water utility would be. Mr. Wenner replied it is a different statutory construct and it would be created via ordinance by the municipality. Mr. Wenner continued for the MUA to run it; since it is a utility and not authority, a shared service agreement with the municipality would be likely. Mr. Furrey spoke to Mayor Burrell, Mr. Shortway, and Mr. Pitsker stating this process has to happen in order to establish a water utility and purchase water from Suez to distribute. Mr. Shortway stated that Mr. Wenner can discuss the ordinance with the township attorney and when the draft is completed it will be placed on the town council agenda for public discussion. Mr. Pitsker asked if we would still be organized under the municipal and county utility authority law or will it change. Mr. Wenner answered the charter would stay the same; however, utilities and authorities are different, authorities are a separate body of politics, can sue and be sued and can issue bonds. Mr. Wenner added a utility, in a technical sense, is a division of the township. Mr. Wenner said he will speak with the township attorney, Mr. Furrey, Mayor Burrell, and Ms. Bright to get a better sense of how this will operate in the future. Mr. Shortway added there should be a financial analysis done to see if there is any additional cost to having the utility versus the authority. Mr. Shortway added additional financial studies should be done to show the projected income of giving the franchise to Suez and being a customer or purchasing the water from Suez and distributing it ourselves. Mr. Shortway said he would feel more comfortable with a financial study outlining projected income and projected costs. Ms. Wheaton asked if the town would do the financial analysis. Mr. Shortway responded that the town owns the assets and asked Ms. Bright if her department would handle doing the analysis. Mr. Bright responded she could do rough estimate of costs although there are many open-ended details, she would need to know the cost of to complete. Ms. Bright added she will find out who would handle this type of analysis. Mr. Shortway asked if Dewberry would be able to complete an analysis. Mr. Benosky stated his group does not do this specifically, but he will see if there is a department which handles this. Mr. Furrey stated a meeting needs to be made with Suez as we now have an idea and plan. Mr. Pitsker agreed the sooner the better to come to an agreement on who is doing what. Mr. Shortway asked if we become a consumer and not the developer, would Suez have to pay for the upgrades. Mr. Furrey responded we will not know until we meet with them to discuss details.
Mr. Furrey spoke in regards to the pumping issue with SCUMA during the last storm. Mr. Furrey previously requested Mr. Lazier to look into the pumping capacity for SCUMA and it appears their maximum gallons per day are 419,000 gallons and Vernon's minimum flow guarantee is 461,000 gallons per day; meaning that if the calculations are correct, they cannot meet out minimum flow guarantee. Mr. Furrey stated he would like to submit and OPRA request to SCUMA for information on their pumps and pump station. Mr. Furrey requested Mr. Wenner and Mr. Benosky work together to request all the information needed for the formal request and determine capacities. Mr. Furrey requested information regarding the pool backwash issue reported by SCUMA. Ms. Bright informed during the last storm, when the flows were too high for SCUMA to keep up, one of our operators said that Black Creek backwashed their pools that day. Following that, SCUMA reached out to the town, not the MUA, to notify that backwashing of pools is against their regulations. Ms. Bright reviewed the application and documents which show that the pool is not connected to the sewer line and that only standard non-chlorinated wastewater is being discharged. Additionally, the DEP approved the application for Black Creek and found no issue. Mr. Benosky added that backwashing can happen in various ways; however, in this case, it goes into a pit to be dechlorinated and then is discharged into the sewer line, which is well documented and a permitted activity. Mr. Shortway added he reviewed the flow documents and noticed between mid- March and the first week of April the flows increase substantially. Mr. Shortway wondered what could cause the increase over the last few years and added that it also happens in August. Mr. Furrey responded one idea is the snow melt from Mt. Creek running off into the storm drains for March and April. Mr. Furrey continues for August there is a possibility of emptying the water park but the only way to tell where it is coming from is to meter the flow. Mr. Schappell added looking at seasonal trends and groundwater amounts could give insight as well. Mr. Shortway replied he went back into weather reports which disproved his theory of snow as one year there was no snow reported. Mr. Furrey questioned if SCUMA was reporting the flow numbers to the MUA. Ms. Bright responded that SCUMA will send flow numbers monthly and then they are correlated with our numbers; their numbers being less then ours usually. Mr. Furrey stated that the meter at Ps2 is not accurate but that will be changed when the new station is built. Mr. Furrey asked Mr. Benosky and Mr. Schappell if the SCUMA meter is the official document is it worthwhile to install our own meter in their station. Mr. Benosky responded depending on their arrangement there may or may not be room to install a second meter; however, they may be agreeable to installing a temporary meter as a test case. Mr. Benosky added that often times the meters are required to be checked annually but is unsure of the requirements of SCUMA. Mr. Schappell added that good practice is having a meter at discharge and receiving to determine if there are any leaks. Mr. Furrey directed Mr. Benosky and Mr. Schappell to look into installing our own meter at the SCUMA station. Ms. Wheaton questioned if there are any additional customers from our discharge location to the treatment plan to which she was answered there are not.
9. Subcommittee Updates
There were no additional updates to be discussed.
10. Open to the Public for Items Not on the Agenda
Motion to open to public comments not on the agenda was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Ms. Wheaton, and carried via unanimous vote. Ms. McCabe informed there were no members of the public in attendance.
Motion to close to public comments not on the agenda was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Mr. Kearney, and carried via unanimous vote.
11. Mayor Comments
Mayor Burrell commented that once again the Township is unified with the MUA on where we are going. Mayor Burrell amplified the outstanding job the MUA has done as this is the first time, he can remember, there has not been an MUA cost increase. Mayor Burrell thanked the Commissioners for the invitation to the meeting.
12. Commissioners' Comments
Mr. Kearney had no additional comments.
Mr. Pitsker asked Mr. Benosky for updates on pump station 2 as there are updates for the soil boring test. Mr. Benosky stated that the soil boring test could not be performed due to the rain storm and will be completed the week of 9/20/21. Mr. Benosky added he will be in touch with Ms. Bright to ensure proper access is granted for the area. Mr. Benosky stated regarding the application updated information was provided will follow up next. Mr. Benosky added the documents for the H2 loan will be uploaded into the system tomorrow.mr. Pitsker inquired what the next steps are. Mr. Benosky answered the environmental Planning Document needs to be reviewed as the H2 loan approval process will hopefully take weeks and not months, and then the design can be progressed to go from permit state to bid state. Mr. Pitsker requested an updated project timeline for the next meeting. Mr. Benosky answered that he would have one to review.
Mr. McDermott had no additional comments.
Ms. Wheaton had no additional comments.
Mr. Shortway had no additional comments.
Mr. Galway had no additional comments.
13. Chairman's Comments
Mr. Furrey had no additional comments.
Motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:28 pm was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Mr. Kearney and declared unanimously carried by Mr. Furrey.
Minutes approved 10/21/21