Call Meeting to Order
Jessi Paladini called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.
Statement of Compliance
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this Regular Meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 20, 2011 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.
Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Jessi Paladini.
Oath Administered to New Members
Prior to the meeting, Mayor Sally Rinker administered the oath to all new members: Jessi Paladini, Beverly Budz and Mike Rubin.
Open Meeting to the Public
Closed Meeting to the Public
Sustainable New Jersey—Update
Allison Petryk advised that the EC made a presentation to the Township Council recommending Vernon’s participation in Sustainable New Jersey. This presentation resulted in the Vernon Township Council adopting a resolution to create a Green Team. Ms. Petryk gave an overview of the program explaining that the Township can earn points for conducting environmentally friendly projects and that there are grant monies available to the Township after earning a certain number of points.
Michael Furrey joined the meeting at 7:38 p.m.
Michael Furrey recommended Allison Petryk represent the EC on Vernon’s Green Team. Ms. Paladini recommended forming a subcommittee, led by Ms. Petryk, to work on projects involving the community. Beverly Budz and Mike Rubin volunteered to be members of the subcommittee. Ms. Petryk suggested a member of the school or board of education be a liaison on the Green Team to get the school involved in earning points for Sustainable NJ. Beverly Budz advised that the Girl Scouts are always looking for community projects to get involved in and could be of assistance in earning points, as well.
Source Water Plan—Update
Michael Furrey explained that the NJ Water Association offers an EPA funded program to look at all the water resources in the Township and put together a plan to protect the water resources focusing on the public water systems and private wells. Mr. Furrey further explained that recommendations and management strategies were made by the NJ Water Association, specifically for Vernon Township, to protect its water resources by focusing on recharge areas at Herold Square as well as the adoption of a township ordinance for mandatory septic cleaning by homeowners every 3 years. Mr. Furrey advised that Jay from the NJ Water Association will make a presentation to the Land Use Board (LUB) on April 27th with the goal being adoption of the Source Water Plan by the LUB to be included in the Master Plan. Mr. Furrey stated that this would fulfill one of the aspects of the Master Plan without costing the township any money. Mr. Furrey offered his assistance in answering any questions regarding the Source Water Plan to anyone wanting further explanation.
Maple Grange Park—Update
Michael Cheski discussed the dog waste problem at Maple Grange Park. Jessi Paladini asked Mr. Cheski to follow up with Craig Roland from Planning and Zoning to find out if there is a township ordinance requiring people to pick up after their dog at Maple Grange Park and, if so, how it is enforced. Allison Petryk suggested there should be an ordinance in place for the entire town because this problem has an impact on the water supply and wetlands. Ms. Petryk stated that she would follow up with the DEP to inquire about regulation and enforcement. Ms. Paladini also spoke about parking along the entrance to Maple Grange Park and recommended a sign be posted informing the public not to block the entrance and exit to the park.
Appalachian Trail Initiative—Update
Jessi Paladini suggested revisiting the issue of the clear cutting and destruction of plants on the Appalachian Trail. Ms. Paladini will make a call to the DEP.
Vernon Hydroelectric Solar Utility Authority
Mike Rubin spoke of the possibility of creating a reservoir, adding solar panels to it and offering it to businesses at a discounted rate. Jessi Paladini requested that Mr. Rubin schedule an expert to give a presentation to the EC regarding this idea.
Ms. Paladini explained that the Township Council recently voted down spending $12,000 to rehire the Land Conservancy to investigate possibilities for the Open Space initiative. Ms. Paladini further explained that there didn’t seem to be much point in spending money to get the Land Conservancy’s recommendations, if the township was never going to follow through with any of the recommendations. Mr. Furrey advised that he contacted the Land Conservancy and found out that the Stanhill property will, most likely, be partially approved by Green Acres. Mr. Furrey suggested resubmission of the Land Conservancy contract to the council. Mr. Furrey further suggested that the entire EC go before the Township Council when the Land Conservancy contract is on the agenda to explain the importance of the Open Space initiative for Vernon.
Western Highlands Scenic Byway
Ms. Paladini advised that she had contacted Dennis Miranda, former EC chairman, regarding completion of the EC portion of the Western Highlands Scenic Byway application, approximately two weeks ago. Ms. Paladini further advised that she would contact Mr. Miranda again, and if the application was still not completed by the next EC meeting, the EC should complete the rest of the application themselves.
Ms. Paladini advised that Earthfest is scheduled for May 1, 2011 and it is being held at Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon. Ms. Paladini advised that she would attend the next Earthfest meeting. Ms. Budz suggested planting seedlings as an activity for children. Alison Petryk suggested handing out pamphlets listing what items should be recycled.
Ms. Paladini asked if the newspaper was notified regarding the EC now meeting once per month. Mr. Furrey explained that the newspaper was not notified, so the EC would still have the option of meeting a second time per month, if necessary. It was agreed that the second meeting of the month for April would be cancelled.
Ms. Paladini asked if there was anyone in the township monitoring the pipeline construction project. Mr. Furrey stated that Soil Conservation as well as the DEP should be monitoring the project, but that nobody from the town was monitoring. Ms. Paladini discussed the mass disruption of soil by the pipeline construction. Mr. Furrey explained that the pipeline company is horizontally drilling, as opposed to trench excavating.
Ms. Paladini stated that she has heard huge concerns from residents regarding the pipeline project; however she read that the Township Manager has not had many complaints. Ms. Paladini questioned rumors of contamination. Mr. Furrey explained that property within 150 ft. of the pipeline was pressure tested before construction began, as a baseline, and that the testing will be repeated after completion of the pipeline project. Mr. Furrey stated that contamination found was not caused by construction because the testing was done before construction began.
Ms. Paladini and Mike Furrey agreed that a construction project of this magnitude should be monitored by somebody in the township. Jessi Paladini called for somebody in town to monitor and give regular reports on the pipeline project. Beverly Budz offered to walk the pipeline and report back to the EC regarding her findings. Ms. Paladini asked that the pipeline company be contacted by phone to get permission before walking the site.
Mr. Cheski expressed interest in attending an ANJEC seminar and questioned the membership status. Ms. Paladini spoke of ANJEC’s interest in assisting the township purchase of Camp Sussex as open space for Vernon. Ms. Paladini questioned the status of purchase of Camp Sussex by a private owner, which would put the property back on the tax rolls. Ms. Paladini will inquire as to status of this property’s current ownership.
Applications for Review
Minor Subdivision—Lot Line Adjustment
The EC had no major concerns with this application.
Ms. Paladini asked for an overview of the Mountain Gate application that was reviewed at the last EC meeting. It was explained that the EC had concerns regarding tree clearing, 300 ft. buffer zone in the Highlands preservation area, wetlands and the need for an LOI, as well as steep slopes and threatened species. Jessi suggested sending written concerns to the Land Use Board regarding all future applications. Jessi stated that the EC should be getting the applications before they are reviewed by the LUB.
Adoption of Minutes
Meeting minutes from March 7, 2011 were reviewed.
Mr. Furrey asked that a portion of the Source Water Plan section of the minutes be amended. Michael Furrey made a motion to approve the March 7, 2011 regular meeting minutes, seconded by Alison Petryk.
A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Michael Cheski, Michael Furrey, Alison Petryk
March 7, 2011 regular meeting minutes were approved with amendment.
There being no further business, the Commission adjourned the meeting with all in favor at 9:45 p.m.
Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: May 2, 2011