Call Meeting to Order

Dennis Miranda called the meeting to order at 7:32 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 P
David Gornstein P
Carol Kadish A
Allison Petryk P
Tim McCurry P
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

Master Plan Discussion and Environmental Commission Liaison

Dennis Miranda asked the commission members to attend the Land Use Board meeting for the discussion and adoption of the Open Space Plan and the Master Plan.

Michael Furrey recommended that David Gornstein, the Environmental Commission’s liaison to the Land Use Board, attend the meeting since he has a longstanding history on the Environmental Commission and he understands the process.

Dennis Miranda suggested that David Gornstein not represent the commission because he might undermine the commission by persuading the Land Use Board not to adopt the Open Space Plan, in contravention to the Environmental Commission’s unanimous recommendations.

David Gornstein stated, “I am the liaison, and I will certainly do my best to represent the Environmental Commission.”

Western Highlands Scenic Byway

Dennis Miranda announced that he and Mayor Sally Rinker attended the recent meeting of the Hardyston Township Council and said the Hardyston Township overwhelmingly adopted the Scenic Byway proposal.

He announced that he and Mayor Rinker also attended a meeting with the Sussex County Planning Dept., and it looks hopeful that the Sussex County Freeholders will also adopt the Scenic Byway proposal. He said county planner John Risko feels the issues are satisfied and approval would be granted. County approval is needed for the scenic byway because parts of the roadway are county roads.

Open Space Funds

Denis Miranda announced that it was difficult to get some of the Township Council members to approve the money from the Open Space Fund for the appraisals for the recommended sites for purchase. Discussion ensued on whether the Environmental Commission is authorized to get the funds for the appraisal just by going to the manager and Township Council approval may not be necessary. David Gornstein said he believed the commission had the authority, but Dennis Miranda did not think so. David Gornstein felt that as long as the money is in the Open Space Fund, the commission is able to use it for appraisals.

Appalachian Trail

Dennis announced that he received a letter from Pamela Underhill, National Park Service Appalachian Trail Manager. Ms. Underhill suggested that Dennis take a walk of the Appalachian Trail with local trail stewards to discuss the problems Dennis has brought up concerning wholesale mowing of indigenous and endangered plant species along the trail in Vernon. In one area, they mowed and uprooted all the grasshoppers and bobolinks there, Dennis said. David Gornstein suggested asking our congressman to write or call the AT people about this issue.

Dennis suggested the Environmental Commission write a press release saying that the federal government is violating regulations at the AT. After a discussion of the matter, the Environmental Commission agreed to all meet with the trail people for a site visit to discuss the violations.

Sustainable New Jersey

Dennis Miranda asked Allison Petryk if she had anything to report about Sustainable New Jersey. Allison did not. Dennis Miranda suggested the commission members view the website of Maplewood Mayor Profetta and determine after reviewing it what they want to do regarding Sustainable New Jersey.

Wallkill River Watershed Management Group

At this time, Watershed Coordinator Nathaniel Sajdak of the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group came forward to give a PowerPoint presentation on “Riparian Restoration projects in the watersheds of Sussex County.”

In 1994, the Sussex County Freeholders designated the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority as the lead agency to develop a management plan for the Wallkill River Watershed. In 2000, the DEP awarded a contract to the SCMUA to facilitate the management project to ensure the restoration, enhancement, and maintenance of the waterways within the watershed. A stakeholders and stewardship partnership arose and the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group was created to raise awareness and promote the environmental stewardship of the watershed, generate participation in watershed initiatives, conduct water quality monitoring of local watershed surface waters. The mission of this group is to develop and implement watershed management strategies and initiatives, use sound scientific principles to ensure the water quality and quantity in the Wallkill River Watershed.

Nathaniel Sajdak discussed this mission in his presentation and also discussed the many activities and scientific studies the volunteer group is conducting, such as biological monitoring, river assessments, and watershed cleanups. He discussed the watershed restoration plan and the group’s ten years of success. The keys to success, said Sajdak, have included public education and partnership, strong volunteerism and public input, open communication and the sharing of information with the stakeholders.

Sajdak also discussed exploring riparian restoration projects for Vernon Township watershed management. Some suggestions were to develop a list of potential project sites, obtain landowner permission and generate maintenance agreements, develop a project design and site plan, seek funding sources and in-kind matching funds, order plant materials, and organize volunteers.

Dennis Miranda asked the Environmental Commission members if they wanted to create a project to restore historic waterways in Vernon Township. Dan Boltz was amenable to the idea, and other commission members said perhaps they could create a subcommittee of the Environmental Commission to facilitate a project. The idea will be explored further.

Approval of Meeting Minutes

May 3, 2010 Regular Meeting Minutes

The Environmental Commission moved to adopt the minutes of their May 3 meeting on a first by Dan Boltz and a second by David Gornstein.

Roll call vote: Dan Bolts, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Allison Petryk, yes;

Land Use Board Liaison Report

There was no report.

There being no further business, Michael Furrey moved to adjourn the meeting. David Gornstein seconded the motion. All were in favor.

The commission meeting adjourned at 9:34 p.m.

Jessica S. Paladini, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: July 12, 2010