[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough (now Township) of Verona 5-20-1975 by Ord. No. 7-75; amended in its entirety 12-1-1997 by Ord. No. 18-97. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The township hereby grants to Comcast Cablevision of New Jersey, Inc., renewal of its nonexclusive municipal consent to place in, upon, along, across, above, over and under highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, easements, public ways and public places in the township poles, wires, cables, underground conduits, manholes and other television conductors, fixtures, apparatus and equipment as may be necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance in the township of a cable television and communications system.
For the purpose of this ordinance, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein. Such meaning or definition of terms is supplemental to those definitions of the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") rules and regulations, 47 CFR 76.1 et seq., and the Cable Communications Policy Act, 47 USC Section 521 et seq., as amended, and the Cable Television Act, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq., and shall in no way be construed to broaden, alter or conflict with the federal or state definitions:
- ACT or CABLE TELEVISION ACT
- Chapter 186 of the General Laws of New Jersey, and subsequent amendments thereto, N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq.
- BASIC CABLE SERVICE
- Any service tier which includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals as defined by the FCC.
- BOARD or BPU
- The Board of Public Utilities, State of New Jersey.
- The grantee of rights under this ordinance and is known as "Comcast Cablevision of New Jersey, Inc."
- The Federal Communications Commission.
- MUNICIPALITY or TOWNSHIP
- The Township of Verona, County of Essex, State of New Jersey.
- The Office of Cable Television (OCTV) of the Board of Public Utilities.
Public hearings conducted by the township concerning the renewal of municipal consent herein granted to the company were held after proper public notice pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act and the regulations of the Board adopted pursuant thereto. Said hearings, including the hearing on the application held on November 18, 1996, having been fully open to the public and the township having received at said public hearings all comments regarding the qualifications of the company to receive this renewal of municipal consent, the township hereby finds that the company possesses the necessary legal, technical, character, financial and other qualifications and that the company's operating and construction arrangements are adequate and feasible.
The nonexclusive consent granted herein shall expire 12 years from the date of expiration of the previous certificate of approval as issued by the Board of Public Utilities.
The performance of the company with regard to its obligations under this ordinance shall be reviewable by the township by the end of the sixth year of its term. Said review shall be conducted during the period beginning on the fifth anniversary date of the adoption of this renewal municipal consent ordinance and ending six months before the sixth anniversary of the ordinance.
The company shall provide written notification to the Township Manager and Township Clerk of the township's right to review the company's performance under this ordinance and shall provide such reasonable and appropriate information as the township may request.
Any review of the company's performance under this section shall be completed within six months of the initiating letter sent by the company. Upon expiration of the six-month period, without a written determination by the Township Council provided to the company and the Office of Cable Television, the municipal consent described herein shall continue in full force and effect for the complete twelve-year term.
Any determination by the Township Council that the company has failed to substantially comply with the material terms and conditions contained herein shall occur only after reasonable written notice has been provided to the company, adequate public hearings have been held and the company has been afforded reasonable opportunity to cure any asserted failures. Any such finding by the Township Council shall contain full documentation and supporting evidence thereof.
Upon issuing any such findings of noncompliance, the township shall have the ability to petition the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Office of Cable Television, for sanctions up to and including revocation of the franchise. The review of this ordinance as described herein shall be in accordance with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations, and neither the township nor the company waives any rights granted to them under state or federal statutes or regulations.
Pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Act, the company shall, during each year of operation under the consent granted herein, pay to the township 2% of the gross revenues from all recurring charges in the nature of subscription fees paid by subscribers to its cable television reception service in the township or any higher amount permitted by the Cable Television Act or otherwise allowable by law, whichever is greater.
The consent granted under this ordinance to the renewal of the franchise shall apply to the entirety of the township and any property subsequently annexed thereto.
Comcast shall be required to proffer service along any public right-of-way to any person's residence or business located in all areas of the franchise territory as described herein, at tariffed rates for standard and nonstandard installations.
Comcast shall complete an upgrade of the cable television distribution system serving the township by no later than December 31, 1998. The upgraded system shall be a hybrid fiber optic/coaxial cable system following a fiber to the node architecture. The upgraded system shall provide improved picture quality, enhanced signal reliability and increased channel capacity.
Restoration. In the event that the company or its agents shall disturb any pavement, street surfaces, sidewalks, driveways or other surface in the natural topography, the company shall, at its sole expense, restore and replace such places or things so disturbed in as good a condition as existed prior to the commencement of said work.
Relocation. If at any time during the period of this consent the municipality shall alter or change the grade of any street, alley or other way or place, the company, upon reasonable notice by the municipality, shall remove, relay or relocate its equipment, at the expense of the company.
Removal or trimming of trees. During the exercise of its rights and privileges under this franchise, the company shall have the authority to trim trees upon and overhanging streets, alleys, sidewalks and other public places of the municipality so as to prevent the branches of such trees from coming in contact with the wires and cables of the company. Such trimming shall be only to the extent necessary to maintain property clearance for the company's wires and cables.
In providing services to its customers, Comcast shall comply with N.J.A.C. 14:18 and all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations. Comcast shall strive to meet or exceed all voluntary company and industry standards in the delivery of customer service and shall be prepared to report on same to the community upon written request of the Township Manager or Clerk.
The Office of Cable Television is hereby designated as the complaint officer for the Township of Verona pursuant to N.J.S.A. 48:5A-26b. All complaints shall be received and processed in accordance with N.J.A.C. 14:17-6.5. The municipality shall have the right to request copies of records and reports pertaining to complaints by township customers from the OCTV.
During the term of this franchise, and any renewal thereof, the company shall maintain a local business office or agent for the purpose of receiving, investigating and resolving all complaints regarding the quality of service, equipment malfunctions and similar matters. Such local business office shall be open during normal business hours and in no event less than 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The local business office shall be located within 10 miles of the township's municipal boundaries. Telephone response for such purposes as mentioned herein will be provided by the company's employees, representatives or agents 24 hours per day. The telephone number and address of the local office shall be listed in applicable telephone directories and in correspondence from the company to the customer. The telephone number for the local office shall utilize an exchange which is a nontoll call for township residents.
During the life of the franchise, the company shall give to the municipality a bond in the amount of $25,000. Such bond shall be to ensure the faithful performance of all undertakings of the company as represented in its application for municipal consent incorporated herein.
The rates of the company shall be subject to regulation as permitted by federal and state law.
The company shall continue to provide one dedicated educational and governmental (P.E.G.) access channel to be utilized by the Township of Verona and one system-wide public access channel.
The company shall provide the township with a one-time grant in the amount of $30,000 within 12 months of receipt of a renewal COA for the purchase of video production equipment or to be otherwise used in support of the access programming or as the township deems appropriate.
Within 12 months of receipt of a renewal COA, the company shall construct, at no cost to the township, a dedicated return line for the purpose of transporting local access programming from the Township Community Center to be televised on the township's access channel.
The company shall provide free standard installation and expanded basic service monthly on up to 10 outlets in each school in the township, public and private elementary, intermediate and secondary. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for by the school requesting service on a material plus labor basis. Monthly service charges shall be billed at the regular tariffed rates for additional outlets.
The company shall provide free standard installation and expanded basic service monthly on one outlet to each police, fire, first aid, emergency management facility, public library in the township as well as the Public Works Department and the Community Center, at no charge. Each additional outlet installed, if any, shall be paid for by the township on a materials plus labor basis. Monthly service charges shall be billed at the regular tariffed rates for additional outlets.
Company representatives shall appear at least once annually, upon written request of the township, at a public meeting of the governing body, to discuss matters pertaining to the provision of cable service to residents of the township and other related issues as the township and company may see fit.
The company shall make every effort to deploy advanced technology in the township as the technology becomes commercially available and economically feasible. That technology shall include but not be limited to video on demand, digital video compression, internet access, high speed cable modems and interactive program guides.
In the event that the township determines that it is necessary and feasible for it to contract with the company for the purpose of providing two-way or interconnection services, the company shall be required to apply to the BPU for approval to enter into and establish the terms and conditions of such contract. All costs for such application to the BPU shall be borne by the township.
Upon activation of the state's emergency alert system ("EAS"), the company shall be required to have the capability to override at the head end a portion of the system in order to permit the cablecasting of emergency messages. The company's participation in the EAS shall be in compliance with applicable state and federal statutes and regulations. The company shall in no way be held liable for any injury suffered by the municipality or any other person, during an emergency, if for any reason the municipality is unable to make full use of the cable television system as contemplated herein. The municipality, along with the company, shall establish reasonable procedures for such emergency uses.
The company agrees to maintain and keep in full force and effect at its sole expense at all times during the term of this consent sufficient liability insurance naming the municipality as an insured and insuring against loss by any such claim, suit, judgment, execution or demand in the minimum amounts of $1,000,000 for bodily injury or death to one person and $100,000 for property damage resulting from one accident.
All of the commitments and statements contained in the application and any amendment thereto submitted in writing to the municipality by the company, except as modified herein, are binding upon the company as terms and conditions of this consent. The application and any other relevant writings submitted by the company shall be annexed hereto and made a part hereof by reference as long as it does not conflict with state or federal law.
If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this ordinance is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any court or federal or state agency of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed a separate, distinct and independent provision, and its invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the ordinance.
This ordinance and the franchise renewal shall take effect immediately upon issuance of a renewal certificate of approval from the Board of Public Utilities.
Subject to the provisions contained in N.J.S.A. 48:5A-1 et seq., Cable Television Act, the following rights are reserved to the Township of Verona:
Nothing herein shall be deemed or construed to impair or affect in any way, to any extent, the right of the borough to acquire the property of a grantee, either by purchase or through the exercise of the right of eminent domain, at a fair and just value, and nothing herein contained shall be construed to contract away or to modify or abridge, either for a term or in perpetuity, the borough's right of eminent domain.
There is hereby reserved to the borough every right and power which is required to be herein reserved or provided by any ordinance of the borough, and a grantee, by its acceptance of any franchise, agrees to be bound thereby and to comply with any action or requirements of the borough in its exercise of such rights or power, heretofore or hereafter enacted or established.
There is hereby reserved to the borough the power to amend any section or part of this ordinance after a public hearing so as to require reasonable additional or greater standards of construction, operation, maintenance, or otherwise, on the part of the grantee. Any amendments shall be feasible and reasonable and within the economic limitations of the grantee.
The company at all times shall, during the life of this contract, be subject to all lawful exercise of the police power of the borough and to such regulations as the borough shall hereafter by resolution or ordinance provide.
Upon expiration of the contract or by virtue of prior termination revocation in accordance with terms of this ordinance, the borough shall have the right to purchase and take over the property of the company in its entirety upon the exercise of an option which the borough is hereby determined to process. The borough shall pay the reasonable market value of the physical facilities within the Borough of Verona, and service of an official notice shall be made on the company to that effect, and the company shall immediately effect such deeds or bills of sale or any or all instruments as shall be necessary to convey to the borough title to all such property in fee simple, free from any liens or encumbrances. Reasonable market value is arrived at after its determination by a consensus of at least three certified public accounting firms.
In the event the contract shall be terminated or revoked by the Council at any time under the terms of this ordinance, the borough shall have the right to determine whether the company shall be permitted to continue to operate and maintain its distributing system and to determine the future maintenance and operation within the system of the borough.
Neither the granting of any franchise nor any provision hereof shall constitute a waiver or bar to the exercise of any governmental right or power of the borough.
From and after the effective date of this ordinance, it shall be unlawful for any person to establish, operate or to carry on the business of distributing to any persons in this borough any television or radio broadcast signals by means of a community cable television system unless a franchise therefor has first been obtained pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance and unless such franchise is in full force and effect. This subsection shall apply to all closed-circuit television systems intended for general public distribution.
From and after the effective date of this ordinance, it shall be unlawful for any person to construct, install or maintain within any public street in the borough or any privately owned area within the borough which has not yet become a public street on any tentative subdivision approved by the borough any equipment or facilities for distributing any television signals or radio signals through a community cable television system unless a franchise authorizing such use of such street or property or area has first been obtained pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance and unless such franchise is in full force and effect.
Establishment. There is hereby established a Cable Television Advisory Committee.
Membership. The Cable Television Advisory Committee shall consist of 11 members, all of whom shall be residents of the Township of Verona. Membership shall consist of:
The Township Manager, who shall serve as an ex officio member.
One member of the Township Council, who shall serve as an ex officio member.
Seven regular members, one of whom shall be representative of the Verona Public Library, one of whom shall be representative of educational interests, one of whom shall be representative of senior citizens' interests, one of whom shall be representative of disabled citizens' interests, one of whom shall be representative of the local business community, one of whom shall be representative of local service organizations and one of whom shall be representative of the community at large.
Two youth members representative of youth interests in the community.
Appointment. All members of the Cable Television Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Township Council and shall serve without compensation.
Terms of office. The term of office of the Township Manager shall be indefinite and shall be concurrent with his office as Township Manager. The term of office for the Council member shall be for one year. Regular members shall serve for terms of three years, except that of the initial members appointed, two members shall serve until June 30, 1994, two members shall serve until June 30, 1995, and three members shall serve until June 30, 1996. The term of office for youth members shall be for one year. If a vacancy in membership shall occur otherwise than by expiration of a term, then such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term thereof in the same manner as the original appointment. All members shall be voting members.
Duties. The duties of the Cable Television Advisory Committee shall include:
Collecting information regarding cable television and acting as an advisory body to the Township Council.
Monitoring the performance of the cable provider.
Reporting citizen complaints regarding cable television to the Township Council.
Providing community information with respect to the availability of the cable provider facilities and equipment.
Assisting community organizations in order to maximize opportunities offered by Suburban Cablevision.
Acting as a liaison between the Township Council and the cable provider.
Making recommendations to the Township Council with regard to rules and regulations concerning the use and operation of Verona's local cable television access channel (Channel 35).
Operation and use of the local cable television access channel. Operation and use of Verona's local cable television access channel (Channel 35) shall be under the administrative control of the Township Manager and shall be subject to the rules and regulations concerning the operation and use of the local cable television access channel as may be from time to time adopted by resolution of the Township Council.