Resolution 142-17, simply titled “Authorizing a Settlement Agreement in the matter of American Humanist Association v. Borough of Roselle Park” was passed with five ‘yes’ votes and only Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey recusing herself from the vote.
This resolution is the latest action resulting from Councilwoman Charlene Storey and her husband, Greg Storey – acting as private residents – filed a lawsuit along with the American Humanist Association (AHA) against the borough and Mayor Carl Hokanson for his donation – as a private citizen – of a ‘Kneeling Soldier At Cross’ silhouette. The donation was then placed on borough property on orders from Carl Hokanson – acting as mayor – without approval from council for the donation. The lawsuit claimed the placing of the silhouette on public property was unconstitutional due to the inclusion of a cross. The donation was retroactively approved by council with a 3-2 vote in August of last year. 51 days later, council voted 5-0 to have the silhouette retroactively removed. Between the two votes, the lawsuit was filed.
No information was provided to the public at the May 4th municipal meeting regarding the terms or even settlement amount in the agreement. Usually, the municipality votes on an agreement once the plaintiff and/or their representative(s) have signed but in this case, the municipal governing body voted to accept the settlement agreement terms first, then have the plaintiffs review and sign.
Borough Attorney Richard Huxford stated that the matter was still an ongoing legal matter and will not be concluded until both parties sign the agreement.
Once both sides of the agreement have been signed, an article – along with a copy of the settlement – will be published by the newspaper.