The following is a brief summary of major pending litigation:
1.TENNIS CLUB ASSOCIATES V. TOWNSHIP OF TEANECK. The Tennis club Associates (TCA) cases have been going on for several years. TCA has, over the years, started five lawsuits against the Township, all pertaining to certain land that it owns at the intersection of Water Street and American Legion Drive, south of Cedar Lane. At present, there are three cases pending (although all are subject to the Stipulation of Settlement discussed below), in addition to a case in the Bankruptcy Court, as follows:
A) A citizens' group had sued TCA and had obtained a decision from the Superior Court denying the right of the developer to build a supermarket on the site.
That decision was reversed on appeal, and TCA sought final site plan approval from the Planning Board. The Planning Board granted Approval for construction of a building containing a supermarket on the ground floor and offices on the second floor, but with conditions requiring TCA to provide, pay for and construct extensive off-site roads and other improvements providing access to the site. These conditions were challenged by TCA in superior Court, and, at the same time TCA asked for monetary damages from the Township. In 1991 the Court ruled that the Planning Board acted properly in requiring TCA to build the road system, but among other things, voided that part of the conditions requiring TCA to purchase or obtain the land necessary for the road improvements, and to complete all off-site work before starting on-site construction. This decision was upheld on appeal in 1993.
B) TCA at one time owned or had options to purchase several pieces of property adjoining the supermarket site, and it sued in an attempt to have three ordinances of the Township declared invalid. Those ordinances concern: a) a requirement that all developers of multifamily housing set aside twenty percent of the units in the development for affordable housing; b) a prohibition against parking under buildings (other than single or two-family buildings); c) a rezoning of the American Legion Drive Water Street area from a business zone to an R-M zone (a maximum of 12 residential units per acre). The case involving the affordable housing set aside was dismissed, but in 1991 the Superior Court declared the parking and the zoning ordinances to be invalid. That decision was affirmed on appeal, but since the Court invalidated the ordinances only on a technicality, Teaneck passed similar ordinances based on a newly enacted Master Plan. TCA appealed to the Superior Court to invalidate those new ordinances.
C) In 1991 TCA commenced a separate case against individual past and present members of the Council and the Planning Board, demanding money damages claiming a conspiracy to deprive TCA of its civil rights.
D)In 1991 TCA filed a Petition in Bankruptcy Court under Chapter XI (Arrangement'). During the pendency of the Chapter XI case TCA sought to continue to operate, but not to pay its real estate taxes. At the end of 1994 Teaneck was successful in having the Bankruptcy Court convert the case into a straight bankruptcy case, and had the stay of payment of taxes lifted. The Bankruptcy Court had a Trustee for TCA appointed. In the summer of 1995, TCA and the Township entered into a written Stipulation of Settlement, which among other things provided that: a) all litigation related to TCA against Teaneck and its officials would be dismissed; b) Mayfair Foodtown (which had entered into a lease with TCA) would be permitted to build a smaller supermarket than originally proposed (without offices and other stores) if it received all necessary approvals; c) all of Teaneck's real estate taxes (in excess of $500,000.00) would be paid. As of the end of 1995, the settlement was being held up by the Bankruptcy Court and the claims of competing creditors in the bankruptcy.
2. STERMAN V. TEANECK. In this case a newly formed orthodox Jewish congregation sued to challenge the constitutionality and legality of a Teaneck Zoning Ordinance. The ordinance states that all houses of worship must be on at least one-half acre of land and have a required number of off-street parking spaces. In an attempt to establish a synagogue the congregation had purchased a house on less than one-quarter acre and submitted plans in their application for a variance which had no provision for off-street parking. Our Board of Adjustment denied the variance, and the congregation sued in Federal Court. The congregation claims that our zoning laws are a violation of their religious liberties. Depositions have been taken and document discovery has been concluded. A pre-trial conference is to be held with the Court, and both sides are preparing motions to try and dispose of the case without a trial. If the motions do not dispose of the case, trial can be expected within the next year.
3.VARIOUS STATE TAX COURT APPEALS. There are numerous State Tax Court Appeals. Most of these involve commercial or industrial properties and the aggregate of the values in suit is substantial. On each of these the Township has served or will serve written Interrogatories in order to obtain the information and documents needed to properly prepare for trial.
4.VARIOUS CONSTRUCTION CASES. From time to time, when residents seriously violate Building Department regulations, it is necessary to take them to Teaneck Municipal Court to try and obtain compliance with the law. Teaneck is mainly concerned with having the violations removed and the unsafe conditions cleared up, but the law provides penalties and the fines for noncompliance can be quite high. In the event that compliance and payment of fines is not made Teaneck has the option of enforcement in the Superior Court. These cases concern the failure on the part of homeowners to obtain certificates of occupancy, building permits for extensions, required inspections, etc.
Information about the Legal Department
CENTENNIAL ACTIVITIES: The library was centrally involved in a number of centennial events and activities. The major focus, which is destined to be a legacy of the centennial, is the Children's Reading Garden on the lawn between the library and township hall. It features a commissioned bronze sculpture of two children reading together by artist Judith Peck.
The Reading Garden was installed in December with a formal dedication planned for June 9, 1996.
A substantial portion of the funds needed for this project were raised at a gala celebration held at the John Harms Theater in April. The evening, splendidly organized by John Grande and Rachel Bartoletta, featured vocalists from the Metropolitan Opera and residents of Teaneck in a gala of song. All other funding came from library endowments.
The Library underwrote the production of a video on Teaneck history by Township historian Robert Griffin and Jay Sherman. Teaneck: The Lost Era, focuses on the period between the Civil War and the turn of the century with particular attention paid to the career of William Walter Phelps, on whose former estate the municipal complex now sits. Speaking of Mr. Phelps, the library had his portrait restored by the Laboratory for the Preservation of Fine Arts. Research on its painter and the subject were added when it was re-hung in the library's courtyard.
Erika Gottfried restored and mounted the 1949 exhibit on Teaneck as a Model City that was originally prepared to explain to the Japanese the workings of a democratic society. The exhibit attracted a great deal of attention in the fall as it sought input from long-time residents on a different period in Teaneck history.
More recent history was covered by Mike Kelly when he visited the library to discuss his book Color Lines: The troubled Dream of Racial Harmony in an American Town, in October.
CHILDREN'S SERVICES:The Children's Department continued its high activity levels in 1995 with an array of programs and a quality collection. Their summer reading program was entitled "Happy Birthday Teaneck". The 975 children who registered read 12,200 books. The high interest in reading was also exhibited during March when the department sponsored a family reading month. 187 families signed up and pledged to make reading more important than TV, at least for a month.
The "Super Sunday" programs that are held during the school year enabled Teaneck residents to attend a number of quality programs without charge. The events included a martial arts demonstration, a magic and juggling show, a show on King Arthur and a series of dance programs that featured various cultures including the Hamed African Drum and Dance Group, the Nai Ni Chen Asian Dancers and Indian dancer Malini Ramanarayanan.
BUILDING:The library, an amalgam of five different construction projects, is a challenging physical plant to maintain due to the age of some sections and because of the high use made of the facility. In 1995, projects completed to keep the plant maintained included re-carpeting the auditorium. The library's cupola was repaired, repainted and regilded by the Laboratory for the Preservation of Fine Arts during the summer. The same firm also regilded the tablets saluting great thinkers of the past on the building's facade.
FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY:The Friends of the Library continued to be active supporters of the library. Their film series, which features mostly foreign films, is ably directed by Pat King and always well attended. The Friends sponsor several concerts of classical music during the year. They also conducted one of their giant book sales in the fall although the spring one was canceled and was sorely missed. The Friends contributed a number of items to the library during the year to help us enhance our services: they underwrote a project that refinished and painted all the tables and chairs in the children's department-, their gift paid for the addition of a large number of unabridged talking books; they bought new shelving for the talking books collection; and they paid for new computer furniture in the reference room.
COMPUTER NOTES:The Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS), of which Teaneck Library is a charter member, offered a number of new services in 1995. New member libraries include Hoboken, Nutley, and Weehawken which expands the collection of materials available to Teaneck residents to 70 libraries. BCCLS contracted for computer services with a group of school district libraries in Bergen, including Teaneck High School, which promises to lead to greater sharing of resources through electronic mail and inter-library delivery of materials.
Teaneck added two more on-line catalog computers in 1995. Patrons can now search terminals to identify which library owns needed materials, look up magazine articles in over 1000 magazines, search the Bergen Record's contents, and find material on companies and products in a specialized business index.
This reference department has a growing number of titles on CD-ROM, so an additional personal computer was added during the year. Cynthia Hetherington of the library staff wrote a grant that brought two pricey but valuable services, Business Dateline and Business Link, to the library. These titles, both on CD-ROM, feature the full text of articles from business publications that greatly expand the library's offerings.
The library changed its telecommunication line in December from a 9600 baud digital service to a frame relay network operating at 56,000 baud. Not only did this make the library's operations more productive, it aided patrons with much faster response time which was needed because of all the additional menu choices being offered.
In mid-year BCCLS began permitting library patrons to dial in to the library catalog at night via modem. Night owls and early morning risers were able to browse the library catalog from home and place electronic requests for needed materials. In the fall, this service was expanded to include the magazine index mentioned above with 300 of the magazine titles represented with the full text of the articles.
The library also joined the Internet in 1995 and plans to expand the service to the public in 1996. Staff constructed a homepage on the World Wide Web and began to use the Internet to answer reference questions. Seminars on this subject were always filled and more frequent offerings will be necessary in 1996.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:The Library hosted Dr. Yvonne Thornton, a Teaneck resident, in a fall presentation on her book and family. She wrote her autobiography, The Ditchdigger's Daughters and it was published by Carol Publishing to critical acclaim.
The library received over $5,000 in donations in memory of Arthur Brody. With these funds, the library established an endowment in his memory for annual acquisitions in the field of recorded and printed music. A substantial number of recordings on compact disc, particularly of folk music, were acquired in the fall and added to the library's collection. This made the library's collection, with nearly 5,000 compact discs, by far the largest in Bergen County.
In 1995 library patrons borrowed 438,000 items from the collection to establish a new record. You support the library very well with your taxes. We believe we can state fairly that you are provided with some of the best library serviced in the State. Here are some comparative figures: The Teaneck Library is among the busiest in the State. If you exclude the county libraries and consider only libraries that serve a single community, this library has the seventh highest circulation. Per capita circulation is also high. Teaneck's figure is 11.6 compared to 6.09 for all libraries in the BCCLS system and 5.5 statewide.
The library's collection contains 135,000 items. In 1995 we added 10,500 books and 2100 audiovisual materials (audiobooks, music CD's and videos) to the collection. 11,600 items were withdrawn due to loss, wear or because they were outdated. The turnover rate indicates our continuing effort to provide you with a diverse, current collection of materials the public needs.
Information about the Library
On March 25,1995 the Police Department dedicated its new Police Headquarters. This newly constructed building provides more than 30,000 square feet of work space. Notable additional facilities in the new building include additional office space for the Community Policing Bureau, the Traffic Bureau, and a police library; and indoor shooting range; and up-link antenna for the law enforcement television network; separate male and female detention facilities, a secure sallyport for prisoner transport; new meeting rooms for training and roll call; a photo developing lab; cctv security monitoring; and exercise facilities.
The Patrol Division drove a total of 603,155 miles last year. 246 summonses were issued at the scene of 1,565 motor vehicle accidents. During 1995 a total of 6,897 summonses were issued for moving violations and 5,334 summonses were issued for parking violations. Officers made 56 arrests for driving while intoxicated, took 47 animal bite reports, made 64 arrests for other departments, responded to 137 fires and 2,084 first aid calls, reported 64 street light and 135 traffic light malfunctions, located 218 unsecured premises, recorded 162 vacant homes, impounded 359 vehicles, and recovered $465,344.00 worth of stolen property. Members of the department made 676 adult arrests and 172 juvenile arrests.
The Service Bureau collected $4,359.00 for burglar alarm registration fees and $5,408.00 for false alarm fines. Members of the Service Division's I.D. Bureau respond to crime scenes to document and collect physical evidence.
In August the Community Policing Bureau organized a "National Night Out" in Votee Park, a program designed to promote public safety across the country. They also conducted a Junior Police Academy, a week-long program run on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck. Fifty children spent the week learning about police work and public safety from federal, state, county, and local public safety agencies. The Community Policing Bureau is also involved in many community projects. Last year the Bureau invited Township Senior Citizens to participate in barbecue and movie trips. Twice per year residents are invited to attend a meeting where they may meet their community policing officer and patrol officer assigned to their post. They are encouraged to take an active role in suggesting and implementing solutions to identify community concerns.
The mission of the Detective Bureau is to conduct pro-active and latent investigations to ferret out crime in furtherance of the Police Department's goal to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Teaneck. It is composed of four squads-General Investigations, Narcotics, Burglary, and Crime Prevention. These squads concentrate their efforts on local crime; however, they also participate in joint investigations with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as multijurisdictional task forces. In 1995 the Narcotics Squad formed a Street Narcotics Abatement Patrol (SNAP) unit, in cooperation with the Patrol Division, which concentrated its efforts on street level drug activity.
Many new and exciting things took place in the Juvenile Bureau in 1995. The Bureau took the 5th and 6th grade class of Grace Lutheran School to the John Harms Theater in Englewood to see a play entitled "Jekyll and Hyde." This educational play helped the officers teach the students the effects of drugs on the body. D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistant Education) officers received an award from the Traffic Safety Institute for its continuing efforts to prevent drunk driving through education and prevention programs taught in the schools. A Juvenile Community Service Program was continued this year in which juveniles who have committed minor offenses are ordered by the court to perform various jobs. Tasks such as cleaning up the graffiti around town with a fresh coat of paint, picking up garbage in the parks, and working at the Fire and Police Departments have been initiated. Over 400 fifth grade students reaffirmed their commitment not to use drugs and skated with a dozen police officers during Rink Night at the Bergenfield Skating Rink which was made possible by the money raised by the Teaneck Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.
The Traffic Bureau is responsible for a variety of traffic related functions including the overseeing of the school crossing guard program, traffic related education and enforcement and preparation of traffic studies and surveys. Other areas of focus for the Traffic Bureau include DWI roadchecks, inspection sticker roadchecks, and roadside truck inspections. The Bureau also follows up on all hit and run accidents within the Township. In 1995 the Traffic Bureau had formed a School Bus Task Force which acted on complaints from residents concerning vehicles passing stopped school buses, as well as inspecting school buses for safety violations. They had also conducted a safety belt educational program entitled "Officer Otto" for various schools and day care programs throughout the town.
Information about the Police Department