VERNON — The Township Council voted 4-1 to allow William Zuckerman residency outside Vernon Township during his tenure as business administrator.
A township ordinance, as well as New Jersey state law, requires him to live in the township during his service and Vernon sought to change this requirement.
Council members Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto, Dan Kadish voted in favor along with council president Brian Lynch. Council member Jean Murphy voted no.
Murphy expressed concern on the matter and explained that she felt that the council did not have “all of the information” about residency and what it implies at the time of the council reorganization meeting.
If the mayor is away, the business administrator becomes the acting mayor. Critics of this resolution cite the fact that Zuckerman is a resident of Florham Park, a borough in southeastern Morris County, as a reason not to waive the residency requirement. Some expressed concerns an out-of-township resident may not have the same attachment and devotion to Vernon as a resident might have and the distance might hinder complete commitment to the job.
“It’s a concern,” Murphy said. “It’s nothing against Mr. Zuckerman, but I certainly wouldn’t want to see someone being appointed interim mayor four days a week and not living anywhere around here.”
Mayor Victor Marotta reassured Murphy and others in opposition of the resolution that Zuckerman will fully commit to his role as an acting mayor if he is needed to do so.
“If the time comes and he is appointed as acting mayor, in my absence, he will be present. It’s as simple as that, and it happens to be an administrative decision.”
Marotta offered no more explanation or justification.
“It’s just not right,” Murphy concluded. “I’m a resident of the town, and just to say now if you’re absent, then he’ll be here?”