Morris Plains Borough Council Addresses Infrastructure and Community Engagement Initiatives

In a recent Morris Plains Borough Council meeting, the most discussions centered on local infrastructure, particularly the maintenance of the community’s gravity sewers and the replacement of a dated generator for a pump station. The council also engaged in a debate on the formation of an Affordable Housing Committee and addressed the participation of youth in local governance.

The gravity sewer system, specifically the line along Sun Valley Way by the railroad, was a focal point of concern. John Sarelli brought the issue to the council’s attention, prompting debates about the ownership and jurisdiction of certain sewer lines. Despite some uncertainty from Mayor Jason Karr about whether a large pipe was town-owned, there was a unanimous agreement on the need for maintenance and inspection to preclude potential problems.

Adding to the infrastructure agenda, the necessity for a new generator at the Johnson Road pump station was underscored. The existing diesel generator, installed in 1970, has become unreliable due to difficulties in sourcing parts and refueling during emergencies. The council suggested a natural gas generator as a replacement to enhance reliability and efficiency.

The meeting also saw an active discussion on the formation of an Affordable Housing Committee, following Councilwoman Cathie Kelly’s proposal. She highlighted the need to meet the town’s affordable housing obligations. However, confusion arose over the appointment process for the committee, leading to a debate. Borough Attorney John Haran clarified that forming advisory committees requires the Borough Council’s consent. Councilman Art Bruhn, Jr. emphasized the importance of pre-meeting deliberations, which resulted in a consensus to ensure thorough discussion on appointments before council meetings.

A public hearing was conducted for a soil disturbance application by Sandy and Nikita Puna for their property on Kakowski Drive. Attorney Rosemary Stoney and engineer Rocky presented the application details, assuring compliance with soil erosion control measures. This came in response to concerns from residents, including a retired water consultant named Frank, who urged the council to televise the main sewage line to assess its condition and avoid potential disasters.

Council members, including Nancy Verga, Cathie Kelly, Joan Goddard, Art Bruhn, Jr., and Sal Cortese, took the opportunity to explain their roles and committee assignments, fostering a connection between the youth and local government.

Chief Mike Grönn from the Police Department, Borough Engineer Bill Ryden, Borough Clerk Rosan Desus, and Mayor Jason Karr discussed their respective roles, giving insights into the daily operations of the borough. They also touched on the importance of involving younger community members in council meetings and borough events.

The council heard updates from various departments, with Councilman Sal Cortese from the Public Safety committee discussing the expansion of the police station and initiatives to promote road safety. Councilwoman Cathie Kelly reported on community events and alternative response programs for mental health-related incidents. Councilman Art Bruhn, Jr. from the Public Works department highlighted the town’s maintenance efforts and the delay in a Route 53 warehouse project. Councilman Joe Cicchino’s report on public buildings and grounds focused on new playground installations and plans for Field 2’s drainage issues.

The Board of Health, Municipal Alliance, and Teen Center provided updates on their activities, including health screenings, cultural festivals, and youth events.

Lastly, the council approved vouchers amounting to $1,784,764.99 and resolved to hold an executive session to discuss real property matters and pending litigation. They also deliberated on consent agenda reports from January 2024, which included grant support, license approvals, and grievance responses, and unanimously approved them.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Jason Karr
City Council Officials:
Nancy Verga, Cathie Kelly, Art Bruhn, Jr., Sal Cortese, Joan Goddard, Dennis Wagner

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