Meeting was called to order by Craig Williams at 7:47 p.m.
Statement of Compliance
The following statement of compliance was read by Craig Williams.
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 has been communicated from the Vernon Municipal Center to the New Jersey Herald and published on January 18, 2007. Notice is also posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.
Salute to Flag
The roll call of members was called and Dennis Downey, Michael Furrey, David Gornstein (arrived 7:51 p.m.), Gary Grey, Brenda Susman, and Craig Williams answered the call.
Open Meeting to the Public
Janet Morrison, Vernon Township Mayor, addressed the EC regarding the report forwarded to the town council which outlined the EC’s concerns about the Environs and the implementation of the Town Center plan. Mayor Morrison advised that she reviewed the report and requested open discussion with the EC.
The mayor’s first question, “How did this report surface as a matter for the EC to report to the council?” Craig Williams responded that the idea first began approximately one year ago by request from John Logan. Craig Williams added that EC reviewed a copy of the Town Center application and there was a general level of dissatisfaction within the EC.
The mayor next asked which of the EC’s chartered duties granted the ability to write the report as a commission? Craig Williams responded the EC is an advisory commission.
The mayor and the EC discussed the difference between the Town Center application and the PIA (Planning Implementation Agreement). The EC explained that the information referenced in the report was taken from the Town Center application. The mayor suggested the EC review the PIA which is the actual agreement.
The mayor asked how the EC came to the conclusion that anything along the Route 94 corridor was in the Environs? Craig Williams explained that if there was active farmland or agricultural land he would consider it Environs.
Mayor Morrison responded that any tool available for controlling sprawl should not be used as a tool to deprive individual land owners who do not meet the criteria of being within large areas of open space of their development rights.
The mayor and the EC specifically discussed the Sammis Farm.
Mayor Morrison explained that when the town applied for Town Center designation, no part of Route 94 was considered Environs. During the application process, the Route 94 corridor was anticipated as becoming more commercialized over time.
The mayor then asked the EC, why wouldn’t the Route 94 corridor be the best place for commercial development as future town councils feel a need for additional revenue? Why would a town want to spend open space funds in a “highway” area like Route 94?
Craig Williams responded that the primary source of drinking water for a large portion of the township lies in the Black Creek Watershed and the aquifer along the Route 94 corridor. He further explained that there is a direct connection between what happens on the surface and the quality of the water under the limestone.
Mayor Morrison suggested the TC/PB would research permitted uses along Route 94, such as, opposing the construction of new gas stations along Route 94.
The mayor addressed the open space tax by stating the TC supported the open space petition by placing the question on the ballot. It was the public who voted down the open space tax. Mayor Morrison further stated she was concerned the Environs report targeted blame at the TC for dissolution of the open space tax.
Gary Grey responded that open space was written into the Town Center application. The spirit was not to do it once and allow it to expire, it was to be continued.
Mayor Morrison asked for the EC’s recommendation.
Craig Williams suggested the community act collectively to put the open space tax on the ballot again.
The mayor suggested the EC review the EC’s ordinance to determine the EC’s jurisdiction. She further stated the EC members cannot utilize the EC to make political statements.
Michael Furrey responded with the question, is it out of the boundary of the EC to collectively give an opinion?
Mayor Morrison asked what area of the EC’s charter states that the EC can produce a report commenting on the TC’s compliance with the Town Center designation?
The EC responded that they are an advisory commission with the duty of protecting natural resources within the town.
The mayor stated that she was not representing the opinions of the TC.
The EC and the mayor discussed adding to the network of trails.
The EC and the mayor discussed the Legend’s property and redevelopment.
Austin Carew, town council member, addressed the EC regarding the AET zoning of the Walker Farm and the Drew Farm.
Mr. Carew advised that the town manager informed him the ordinance for zoning the two farms AET came from the Open Space Committee. He further learned that Open Space Committee member, John Logan, suggested down zoning the property to AET then buying it at a substantially less cost than it was originally worth. Mr. Carew advised that he is in favor of the AET zoning, however, he is more in favor of the American tradition of fairness.
Mr. Carew stated that the EC ordinance requires the EC to advise the TC, the ZB, and the PB. In his opinion, the Environs report written by the EC opened dialogue.
Mr. Carew advised that he is in favor of responsible development.
Mr. Carew stated that he was opposed to the Mountain Creek Redevelopment Plan because he felt the density was out of character, the roads were not going to be improved, and the buildings would be too high.
The meeting was closed to the public at 9:49 p.m.
Approval of Meeting Minutes
Gary Grey made a motion to approve the March 27, 2007 minutes; Dennis Downey seconded the motion.
Applications Under Review
No applications to review.
Planning Board Liaison Report
David Gornstein advised that the March 28, 2007 PB meeting included a financial analysis of the Mountain Creek Redevelopment Plan.
The Woodmont Homes application was also discussed at the March 28, 2007 PB meeting. To date, the application has not been approved. The PB is moving forward to hire a water management expert to review the entire project.
The EC discussed the history of the Woodmont Homes project, the developer’s obligations and conditions that were not met, and the revised plan for the project.
Craig Williams suggested the idea of a bulk clean-up fundraiser. Janet Morrison suggested the TC would ask the acting manager to inquire with the DPW about the idea.
To be carried.
The EC discussed the Earthfest schedule and events.
There being no further items of business for the regular meeting, a motion was made by David Gornstein to adjourn the meeting; Dennis Downey seconded the motion. The regular meeting of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission was adjourned at 10:36 p.m.