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Verona Council Notebook: May Workshop Meeting

Among topics of discussion: blight, ambulance service and an ordinance regulating business signs.

Here's a roundup of items discussed at Verona Council's Workshop Meeting on Tuesday, May 29.

Officials Seek Stricter Housing Code Enforcement

Verona officials on Tuesday took several steps to increase housing code enforcement on negligent property owners.

During a workshop meeting, council approved a measure allowing code enforcement officers to seek civil suits against landlords who haven’t paid fees for rental units. Officials also discussed pursuing legal action on owners of blighted, vacant properties.

Read the full story .

Council Hears What Ambulance Company Offers

After much of Guardian Angel Ambulance, council invited Lower Valley Ambulance to speak at its meeting.

Council is considering a switch to Lower Valley, which has one station in nearby Oakmont and another in Harmar. The company has a total of five ambulances, according to the company’s Manager Seenie Carlisle.

Council hasn’t made a decision yet as to whether it will switch to Lower Valley, and Tuesday’s presentation was interrupted by argument among officials.

Peggy Suchevich, the council member and former ambulance driver who has defended Guardian Angel against allegations that its response times are too long, asked how Lower Valley could do better than Guardian Angel when it has roughly half the number of ambulances.

“We do not have problems answering calls in our areas now,” Carlisle said.

Mayor David Ricupero has said he advises borough employees to request the company over Guardian Angel when an emergency requires immediate assistance.

Prompted by a question from council member Sandra Drabicki-Bell, Carlisle said Lower Valley has responded to 52 calls in Verona so far this year.

Suchevich said council should bring in a representative from Guardian Angel before making any decisions.

“I’ve done this for many, many years,” Suchevich said. “I grew up in an ambulance.”

Commercial Sign Ordinance Presented in Public Hearing

Council presented an amended ordinance that gives officials more control over what signs Verona businesses can put up.

According to solicitor Craig Alexander, the hearing was largely a procedural step in the process of having the ordinance passed; few residents commented on the legislation, and the hearing concluded quickly.

While existing signs wouldn’t be affected by the law, business owners would need approval for any news signs or changes to old signs.

When a resident asked what brought about the move, Suchevich said the ordinance is part of a wider effort to revitalize Verona’s business district.

Alexander expects the ordinance to go through within two months, after some language is adjusted to satisfy requests from the county.

“I think everybody’s on board with what the ordinance says,” Alexander said.

Buildings May Get Artsy Makeover

A couple of buildings in Verona could use a fresh look—and officials are looking to fresh faces for help.

Kier Ewing, of the Verona Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the borough find local kids to paint a mural in a spot near the recreation center formerly occupied by dumpsters. Council President Dom Conte liked the idea and suggested doing the same at a garage in Riverbank Park.

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