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News Report: USR Mayor and Council Meeting October 5, 2023

Water Quality in Upper Saddle River

Several residents including Frank Sonnenberg mentioned sewage spills during recent rainstorms. These originate from the Rockland County NY Ramapo Sewage District and cause raw sewage to spill into the Saddle River at a rate of “thousands of gallons per hour.” He recommended that residents should not allow their children or pets to wade or play in the Saddle River, especially for several days after a rainstorm. Rainstorms burden the already beyond-capacity sewer lines and cause Ramapo sewage to flow into the Saddle River during most heavy rainstorms. Mr. Sonnenberg stated, “there was a sewage spill last week causing 25 gallons per minute or 1,500 gallons per hour to spill into the Saddle River… it is mind boggling that we hear crickets from” (our borough government). “The infrastructure in Rockland/Ramapo simply cannot handle the flow.” He asked the USR Mayor and Council to inform residents of this issue, and to recommend that USR residents protect their families by not playing in the Saddle River and to have their water tested. 

In response, the mayor stated that a water impact study had been commissioned by the borough. Councilman Jonathan Ditkoff stated that the mayor and council has contacted Rockland County, as well as state and federal officials including US Representative Josh Gottheimer and NJ Senator Holly Shepisi regarding sewage spills caused by the Rockland/Ramapo Sewage District overflows. The borough has also contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which, in turn, has issued a letter to Rockland County regarding the pollution arising from their sewer system. The New Jersey DEP has further requested evidence of permits and ground water studies from Rockland County regarding large scale real estate developments in the Ramapo District of Rockland County. USR is in the process of hiring a certified hydrologist in order to determine clear data on risks to our wells and rivers. One of the council members stated that the sewage overflows from Ramapo/Rockland are not a new problem, and that they have been going on for years. USR resident Larry Klein congratulated the mayor and council for getting the letter from the NJDEP sent to Rockland County. Resident William Spencer additionally thanked the mayor and council for involving the NJDEP in this issue which prompted the agency to issue the letter to Rockland County. Addressing the mayor and council, Mr. Spencer stated, ”I know you guys have stayed on it, especially Arman (Frandanesh, the mayor),” he said further thanking them for their focus and action on the water issues.

Residents of The Grove Cite Noise, Lights, and Trespassing from Lake Street Sports Park Users

Several residents of The Grove townhouse development on Lake Street reported that loud noise, bright lights, and trespassing have arisen from games held at One Lake Street Athletic Park. Grove resident Brian Gersten stated that privacy has become an issue for homeowners at The Grove. He asked that a fence be extended around the park to prevent people from coming off the fields and through the development. The residents have experienced kids running through their bushes, trampling gardens, and ringing doorbells. Mr. Gersten said, “People at the games are also sitting on the berms (rather than the temporary bleachers) and are destroying the flower beds planted by the borough. Kids are running through residents’ backyards.”

He suggested that the fence be extended from Goldfinch Drive to the parking lot, and to connect with the new shopping center, as well. He stated that announcements and music can be heard “blasting” until 10:00 pm, which violates the borough’s noise ordinance. He suggested that noise be curtailed or reduced at certain hours. Councilman Jon Ditkoff said that he wants to work the kinks out at the new field. He offered to walk the field with Brian Gersten in order to understand the problems. Another resident suggested that lights could be turned off if no games were going on. Mr. Ditkoff stated that cameras are planned to be installed and lights may need to be on but perhaps not too late in the winter or perhaps the high field lights could be turned off and the lower lights around the field could be kept on. The police chief said that he plans to schedule an event with residents of The Grove sometime in November to meet people and discuss any issues they may have. Michelle Choi, a Grove resident, said that cheerleaders are practicing at 8:00 am on Saturdays with the loudspeakers blaring loudly. Michael Roseland, a resident of The Grove, said that he is not getting quiet enjoyment of his home as a result of the field activities. Grove resident Brian Lissman asked whether the lights would be left on during the winter to which a council member responded that this would have to be looked into. All agreed that these were initial issues arising from the new field and there was a sense that all parties wanted to work out meaningful solutions. 

Sheryl Romano, in Public Comments, asked that the names of the members of the Shade Tree Commision be published on the borough’s website. She said that it was the only committee not having members’ names listed. She also questioned access via Zoom to Planning Board meetings. 

Ordinance Approved: Parks and Playgrounds Ordinance 11-23 Approved (to read, see 09/07/2023 Mayor and Council Agenda attachment)

This ordinance regulates the use of fields and pickleball courts at the USR Sports Complex at One Lake Street requiring permits to be approved by the USR Recreation Director prior to use. 

Ordinance Introduced: Salt and De-Icing material Storage on Private Property Ordinance 13-23: (to read, see 10/5/2023 Mayor and Council Agenda attachment)

An ordinance was introduced regarding the storing of salt, and de-icing materials on private property which will be open for discussion on November 2, 2023, at 8:00 pm at the USR Mayor and Council Meeting at Borough Hall. Borough residents are encouraged to attend either in person or online. 

Ordinance Introduced: Ordinance Amending Chapter 120 of the USR Borough Code on Stormwater Management Ordinance 14-23 (to read, see 10/5/2023 Mayor and Council Agenda attachment)

This extensive ordinance was introduced to repeal and replace Article 111 of the code entitled “Stormwater Management.” This Ordinance will be open for discussion on November 2, 2023, at 8:00 pm at the USR Mayor and Council Meeting at Borough Hall. Borough residents are encouraged to attend either in person or online. 

Bills Paid

Bills in the amount of $2,495,844.56 were authorized to be paid.

Consent Agenda

All items approved without discussion. 

Nico Brusco was named Firefighter of the Month by the USR Fire Department.

October 10th was proclaimed “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day” in Upper Saddle River.