Call Meeting to Order

Dennis Miranda called the meeting to order at 7:36 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 adequate notice as defined in Section 4D of Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 has been transmitted from the Vernon Municipal Center to the New Jersey Herald on February 5, 2010, and published on February 10, 2010. Notice is posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Roll Call

Jessica Beutel A
Dan Boltz P
Michael Furrey A
David Gornstein P
Carol Kadish P
Allison Petryk P
Tim McCurry A
Dennis Miranda, Chair P

Also Present

Jessica Paladini, Recording Secretary
Ariana Miranda, Student Member

Pledge of Allegiance

Open Meeting to the Public

Chairman Dennis Miranda opened the meeting to the public. Seeing no one come forward, the meeting was closed to the public.

Closed Meeting to the Public

Discussion on Council Ordinance #10-18

Dennis Miranda told the commission about Deputy Mayor Harry Shortway’s proposal to undermine the dedicated open space tax fund to put the money toward the township’s recreational facilities. Councilman Shortway plans to put the ordinance on the agenda at the July 22 meeting for first reading. If the ordinance passes, the nearly $900,000 in the dedicated fund approved by 67% of the voters in the 2000 referendum could now be used for active recreation, athletic fields, maintenance of the fields, payment of debt incurred by the fields, or additional recreational amenities at Maple Grange Park. The Environmental Commission is unanimously opposed to this ordinance and will adopt a resolution opposing it and forward it to the governing body.

Executive Session

The commission went into executive session at 8:05 p.m.

Public Session

The commission went back into public session at 8:21 p.m.

Open Space Funds

Chairman Miranda announced to the public present that the commission will apply for grant money from Sussex County and Green Acres open space funds for a combined total of $250,000 toward the purchase of open space. The commission adopted two resolutions: (1) to apply for funds from the Sussex County Open Space Trust Fund and (2) to apply for funds from the New Jersey Green Acres Trust Fund.

Mayor Rinker, who was present at the meeting, spoke on the issue of open space and about Councilman Shortway’s proposal to take the dedicated open space monies. She said, “The broad sweeping ramifications of this demand significant discussion” and opined that no one is following the township’s Master Plan. “We [Land Use Board] just voted on putting the open space plan into the Master Plan, and now they want to annihilate it,” said the Mayor. “It makes a mockery of that referendum [for the dedicated open space tax] to now do another referendum to overturn it.” Commission member Carol Kadish moved to adopt a resolution opposing Township Council Ordinance #10-18 to put a referendum on the November ballot to convert the dedicated open space tax for use for recreational facilities at Maple Grange Park. David Gornstein seconded the motion. All were in favor of the resolution opposing Ordinance #10-18.

Roll call vote: Dan Boltz, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Carol Kadish, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes; Intern Ariana Miranda, yes.

Western Highlands Scenic Byway

Dennis Miranda announced that the Scenic Byway proposal is awaiting approval by the Sussex County Freeholder Board. If the Freeholders approve the byway, the Environmental Commission and the Historical Society will have to begin the application process and the writing of the historic sites on the byway. The deadline for the application is in September.

Appalachian Trail

Dennis announced that on August 10, there would be a meeting with Pam Underhill and representatives of the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conference regarding the wholesale destruction by the weed-whacking along the trail. The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the municipal center. Rich Barron, Ed Guddell, Larry Wheelock, Kevin Lutz, Steve Ellis, Jessica Kreugel, the Environmental Commission, and the Highlands Coaltion is expected to attend. The goal of the meeting is to discuss the violations occurring through reckless maintenance along the trail. Dennis Miranda said Pamela Underhill told him she was not happy about members of the Environmental Commission attending. The meeting will be advertised as a special Environmental Commission meeting.

Sustainable New Jersey

Commission member Allison Petryk discussed Sustainable New Jersey, a program for New Jersey municipalities that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term. Municipalities get points for certain programs and activities they implement. Some of the things Vernon Township already has in place that can get points are the open space pan, the Natural Resource Inventory, the Environmental Commission’s educational presentations, Earthfest or a “Green” Fair, and a water conservation education program. Dennis Miranda would like to see additional programs implemented by December.

Approval of Meeting Minutes

June 21, 2010 Regular Meeting Minutes

The Environmental Commission moved to adopt the minutes of their June 21 meeting on a first by David Gornstein and a second by Allison Petryk.

Roll call vote: Dan Boltz, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes; Ariana Miranda (unofficial intern vote), yes.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

There was no report.

There being no further business, Dan Boltz moved to adjourn the meeting. Allison Petryk seconded the motion. All were in favor.

The commission meeting adjourned at 9:46 p.m.

Jessica S. Paladini, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: August 2, 2010