Ho-Ho-Kus August 26, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • Page 3 Residents, council discuss lingering issues about inn by Jennifer Crusco Ho-Ho-Kus residents Donna and Vincent Cioffi had several questions for the borough council regarding the assignment of the lease to Councilman Gordon Hamm and his three partners. Following an e-mail exchange between Donna Cioffi and the borough, the resident received a letter, hand delivered by a borough police officer, urging her to attend last week’s meeting. The resident asked about Borough Attorney David Bole’s vetting of Hamm and the appearance of a conflict in that matter. She explained that the vetting consisted of research into the councilman’s financial stability, credit status, and viability as a tenant in the borough-owned building. Cioffi stated that, if Hamm signs Bole’s paycheck, there is a possibility the attorney might overlook something. However, the resident stressed that she is not making any accusations in this matter, but is attempting to ensure there are no questions of a conflict. Bole pointed out that he is not the attorney for any one member of the council, but is retained to offer legal advice to the entire governing body. He said he knew of no cases in which the municipal attorney had a conflict of interests in offering such advice. Cioffi asserted that she was concerned the council had violated the Sunshine Law when it held the April meeting on the assignment of the inn lease. Randall said the borough clerk had done her part by sending the notices to the legal newspapers. “She did her job,” he said. “We don’t put notices in the Council approves pair of bond ordinances The Ho-Ho-Kus Council has approved two bond ordinances that will fund various improvements in the borough. However, to eliminate any perception of a conflict of interests, Councilman Gordon Hamm abstained from voting on Ordinance 955, which calls for improvements to the downtown. Concern had been raised by a resident that Hamm, as a minority owner of the entity now running the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn, should not make decisions on issues that could be seen as beneficial to his business. Ordinance 954 appropriates $140,000 to fund upgrades for the borough’s water utility. The two items included in this measure are the installation of well automation equipment and installation of chlorine water retention water mains at borough Wells 1 and 4. Of the aggregate appropriation, $7,000 will be a down payment. The balance of $133,000 will be funded by bonds and notes. The well automation equipment will cost $25,000, and the chlorine retention system will cost $115,000. Councilman Hamm noted that this item, which is intended to protect the water supply against terrorist acts, is mandated by the state. The borough has postponed action on this matter for approximately three years, he said, adding that many of the borough’s wells are old and must be updated to pass the state testing. Hamm and Mayor Thomas Randall concurred that this is not a want, but a need. Ordinance 955 appropriates $600,000 for multiple projects, including the borough’s road resurfacing program for (continued on page 23) paper.” He pointed out that Cioffi had asked the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to review the matter, which led to the re-vote taken last month. “We voted on it again (in July), because why start an argument that’s not necessary?” Randall said. Vincent Cioffi described the uneasiness he felt about the April vote. He said the lease assignment seemed like an odd arrangement, since Hamm would effectively be the landlord and tenant at the same time. Mr. Cioffi said the council could have reviewed other options, including the possibility of telling Hamm, “We can’t lease it to you; you’re a councilman.” He asked, “Who’s drawing the line?” “The law,” Randall responded. “It’s legal.” He said the councilman must recuse himself from votes on issues related to the inn, and he has done so. “That is the legal standard we followed.” The mayor pointed out that, once it closed earlier this year, the inn was not a viable asset, and there were no suitors other than Hamm’s group. Randall said Mr. Kelly, the prior tenant, pleaded for the council to assign the lease to Hamm, and there was no better or equal deal in the offing. Councilman Kevin Crossley said he understood the residents’ uneasiness. He said the council did pause, consider its options, and, with legal advice, came up with the current decision. “We made a mistake the first time,” Crossley said of the April vote. “We corrected that.” He also said that members (continued on page 23) Paul Banach Construction, LLC Home Remodeling Waldwick • 201-689-0765 • Windows • Doors • Garage Doors • • Finish Carpentry • Crown Moldings, Cabinetry, Walk-In-Closets, etc... • Kitchen & Bathroom Renovations • Take advantage of the Energy Tax Credit in 2009 www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits Speak to your tax advisor to ascertain if you qualify, as these credits will make a project more economical for you! Over 20 yrs. exp. • Senior Citizen Discount • Ref available upon request All work performed by owner • Free Estimates But STILL can’t lose that Tummy or Cellulite? 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