Call Meeting to Order

Jessi Paladini called the meeting to order at 7:05 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.

Roll Call

Michael Furrey (joined meeting at 7:25 p.m.) P
David Gornstein A
Allison Petryk P
Michael Cheski P
Mike Rubin (joined meeting at 7:18 p.m.) P
Beverly Budz P
Ariana Miranda A
Jessi Paladini P

Also Present

Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Jessi Paladini.

Tennessee Pipeline Project

Mike Lennon, Contract Land Agent representative from EI Paso Corporation, formerly known as Tenneco, attended the Environmental Commission (EC) meeting to answer the concerns of commission members as well as members of the public. Mr. Lennon was also joined by Vernon Township Manager Gerald Giaimis.

Jessi Paladini, EC Chairperson, addressed soil retention and silt fencing issues in addition to monitoring of the pipeline project by a township liaison. Mr. Lennon explained that the pipeline project is currently being monitored by the Sussex County Soil Conservation Commission, NJ DEP, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but welcomed the idea of having a township representative, as well. Ms. Paladini suggested Craig Roland, Vernon Township’s zoning officer along with an EC representative. Ms. Budz volunteered to be the EC representative.

Mr. Lennon stated that the fencing is used for safety measures and it has been breached, in places, due to the wet weather. Ms. Paladini questioned the project completion date. Mr. Lennon stated that the goal is for the pipeline to be operational by November 1, 2011.

Beverly Budz stated that she has walked the pipeline site. Ms. Budz questioned why so many trees were taken down and when replanting would take place. Mr. Lennon advised that active construction with blasting is being done, and strongly cautioned against walking the site without prior coordination with pipeline personnel, for the sake of safety.

Mr. Lennon stated that guidelines will be followed for restoration of DEP lands, however replanting is not required everywhere.

Allison Petryk voiced concerns regarding effects on the watershed. Mike Rubin voiced concerns about uranium coming to the surface due to pipeline digging. Mike Furrey requested a copy of the approved mitigation plan. Mr. Lennon stated that the mitigation plan would need to be obtained from the DEP. Mr. Lennon also stated that all rules and regulations are currently being adhered to by the pipeline company at the Vernon construction site.

Open Meeting to the Public

The meeting was opened to the public at 7:50 p.m., with all in favor.

Doreen Edwards, Vernon resident, questioned if there was an outlet for the pipeline located in the wooded area near her property. Ms. Edwards stated that from time to time she smells gas. Mr. Lennon stated that there are valves located in different areas, but not at this location because the access is not good. Mr. Lennon also cautioned that if anyone smells gas, at any time, they should call someone and not guess as to the cause of the odor. Ms. Edwards also questioned the possibility of the pipeline project causing a change in her water. Ms. Edwards stated that her water has a greasy feel to it.

Beverly Budz asked Mr. Giaimis about resident complaints regarding the pipeline. Mr. Giaimis explained that complaints are sent directly to Mr. Lennon and reported that few people have complained. Mr. Giaimis stated that most residents who have called wanted updates on the progress of the project.

Ms. Paladini questioned Mr. Lennon regarding well contamination complaints. Mr. Lennon stated that well testing was done before the project began and noted that testing revealed some of the wells and septics did not meet state guidelines, at that time.

Mary **, Vernon resident, stated that she would like to plant a community garden and start a farmer’s market. Ms. Paladini offered the garden space behind the Historical Society Museum for this effort.

Closed Meeting to the Public

Maple Grange Park—Update

It was explained that there is a state law as well as a township ordinance requiring pet owners to pick up animal waste. Enforcement is difficult because there needs to be signs posted every 20 feet in order for tickets to be written for violations. The Department of Public Works is responsible for pickup of animal waste, as time allows.

Appalachian Trail Initiative—Update

Jessi Paladini reported that she had been in contact with the DEP regarding concerns of cutting down endangered plants on the Appalachian Trail. A subcommittee of EC members will meet with the DEP next week to discuss these concerns.

Open Space

Ms. Paladini reported that the Vernon Township Council approved contracting with the Land Conservancy. Jessi stated that she would like to schedule a presentation with the Land Conservancy representative for the next EC meeting.

Western Highlands Scenic Byway

Jessi Paladini advised that Dennis Miranda, former EC Chair, cannot find the computer file he had regarding all the work that had been completed regarding the Western Highlands Scenic Byway. Mike Furrey advised that Dennis had completed the GPS coordinates necessary to finish the project. Jessi and Mike Cheski will have a conference call with Dennis Miranda to see if they can help him find this information on his computer.

Ms. Paladini stated that she also asked Dennis for the EC banner, but he couldn’t find it since his move to Florida. Allison Petryk suggested that the EC acquire storage space in the Municipal Center so that items do not get misplaced in the future. Mike Furrey stated that he will call Craig Williams to find out if he knows where the EC banner is.

Applications for Review

Ms. Paladini advised that there will be a joint meeting of the Land Use Board (LUB) and EC to discuss establishing an ordinance for solar farms as well as the source water plan presentation. The EC will wait for the presentation before reviewing any solar farm applications.

Adoption of Minutes

Meeting minutes from April 4, 2011 were reviewed. Mike Furrey made a motion to approve the meeting minutes of April 4, 2011, seconded by Mike Rubin.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Michael Cheski, Michael Furrey, Allison Petryk, Mike Rubin, Beverly Budz, Jessie Paladini
Nays: None

April 4, 2011 regular meeting minutes were approved with amendment.

Executive Session

Mike Rubin made a motion to enter into Executive Session at 9:00 p.m., seconded by Beverly Budz.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Mike Cheski, Mike Furrey, Mike Rubin, Beverly Budz, Jessi Paladini
Nays: None

The EC came out of Executive Session at 9:15 p.m.

There being no further business, the Commission adjourned the meeting at 9:16 p.m. with all in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: June 6, 2011