Call Meeting to Order

Dennis Miranda called the meeting to order at 7:39 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

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

Also Present

Jessica Paladini, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

Swearing In of New Members

The commission waited for Acting Manager Robin Kline to arrive to swear in the new members. Ms. Kline arrived at 7:46 and administered the oath of office to Jessica Beutel and Carol Gunn Kadish.

Open Meeting to the Public

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 at 7:42 p.m.

Dennis Miranda had a brief discussion on the status of the Master Plan with the Land Use Board. He discussed the Open Space Trust Fund ranking system. A resolution for this will be voted on at the next meeting.

The Land Conservancy and Open Space

There are two funding opportunities for open space in 2010. The Land Conservancy will provide regular updates and progress reports on ongoing communication and coordination with state agencies. Dennis Miranda said the Township Council entered into a $12,000 contract with The Land Conservancy for 2010 to provide consultation on open space acquisitions.

Carol Kadish asked David Gornstein to bring her up to date on township open space acquisitions. David said the township is mostly buying easements for the bike path. Carol asked if there was any money for an updated natural resource inventory. Dennis discussed the scope of the work The Land Conservancy did in 2009.

Meghan Haidet of TLC works with Vernon Township and also with the Green Acres program on behalf of the township on open space acquisitions. Vernon had a dedicated open space tax, but it expired and voters did not approve a referendum to continue the tax. The NJ Green Acres program recognizes municipalities that have dedicated open space taxes. Plan Incentive Grants fund upwards of $50,000 for each project when municipalities have dedicated open space taxes. Vernon has amassed $1.5 million in open space funding from the state but it is in jeopardy of losing it for not using it. This funding should have been used while the township had an open space fund.

Dennis Miranda announced that he called Larry Fink of the Green Acres office to salvage the funding for the township. He said the environmental commission needs to send Green Acres a letter by the following week, asking for the funding.

The commission decided to go into executive session to discuss acquisition of parcels for open space preservation. David Gornstein moved to go into executive session at 8:19 p.m. Carol Kadish seconded the motion.

The Environmental Commission went into executive session at 8:19 p.m.

At 8:55, David Gornstein moved to go out of executive session and back into public session. Dan Boltz seconded the motion.

The Environmental Commission went back into public session at 8:55 p.m.

Natural Resource Inventory

The commission discussed doing an updated natural resource inventory. The commission will apply for a $10,000-$15,000 grant from ANJEC. The Historical Society will apply for a $5,000 from the Highlands Coalition on behalf of the township for the NRI. Dennis Miranda will send the applications by e-mail for the members’ review.

Green Acres Open Space Funds

Carol Kadish moved to write a letter to Green Acres to restore the $1.5 million open space funding to the township. Dan Boltz seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Jessica Beutel, yes; Carol Kadish, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Applications for Review

Market Square Management—Variance for Sign

The commission had no concerns about this application.


NJDEP—Regarding Tennessee Pipeline Exemption from Highlands Regulations

Dennis Miranda asked Carol Kadish to review the application and report back to the environmental commission.

Cariega Engineering—Stream Buffer

The commission will do a site inspection of the property.

Environmental Commission Minutes

The commission reviewed the minutes of the March 1, 2010 meeting. David Gornstein moved to accept the minutes. Allison Petryk seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Jessica Beutel, yes; Carol Kadish, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

David Gornstein had no report.

Dennis Miranda reported that he attended the last Land Use Board meeting to discuss the Master Plan the board is working on. He said he got the sense that the LUB was not addressing the environmental commission’s concerns. He said, “We are the advisory commission to the Land Use Board on environmental issues, and they should hear our concerns.” He said there are 13 elements to a Master Plan, but the Land Use Board is only addressing two of them at this time: land use and recycling. Other areas will be updated over time. Municipalities must update their master plans every 10 years. David Gornstein said those two elements are the only ones required by law to be updated at this time. Carol Kadish suggested the environmental commission apply for the grants for the NRI, do the NRI, and present their findings to the Land Use Board.

Dennis Miranda suggested having a meeting of all the boards and bodies in the township to discuss the Master Plan.

Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge Speaker

At its April 5 meeting, the commission will have a speaker from the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.

Masker Marsh

Dennis Miranda said commission members’ comments about the commission’s vote on Masker Marsh at the Township Council meeting were inappropriate and served to undermine the actions of the commission. Dennis said if the council votes against the purchase of the property, the commission should go to a council meeting to ask why. Dennis said he was disappointed the council didn’t ask a single question after his presentation on the Masker Marsh. David Gornstein said Dennis Miranda should give more advanced notice to commission members when he gives presentations to the council.

There being no further business, Dan Boltz moved to adjourn the meeting. Carol Kadish seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Jessica Beutel, yes; Carol Kadish, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

The commission adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

Jessica S. Paladini, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: April 5, 2010