Chairperson Beverly Budz called the meeting to order at 7 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 3, 2014 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.
Salute to the Flag
|Diane Wexler (excused)||A|
Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary
Meeting Opened to the Public
No one came forward.
Meeting Closed to the Public
Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler had an excused absence and was not present to give a land use board liaison report.
There was no correspondence.
Applications under Review
The commission discussed a letter concerning an application for repairs to a bridge over Lake Wallkill, which requires a permit and approval from the DEP. The application itself is available for review in the township clerk’s office. Since the commissioners did not get a copy of the documents, they will request it from the clerk so they can give it further review.
The commission finalized a resolution that recommends banning fracking in the township. The resolution will be forwarded to the township council with the recommendation to adopt it. Diane Wexler sent a letter, asking for the commission to accept her affirmative vote for the resolution.
Motion to adopt the resolution was made by Beverly Budz.
The motion was seconded by Michael Cheski.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Michael Cheski, Cathy McCartney, and Beverly Budz
Beverly Budz stated that there are areas of the pipeline where all of the snow is melting along the pipeline. Commissioner Diane Wexler obtained a digital thermal reader and she and Chairwoman Beverly Budz found the area of the pipe running about 100 degrees hotter at a five-foot radius than the natural ground. Beverly Budz said she contacted Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, a world-renowned expert on fracking. He told her the temperature inside the pipe could potentially reach up to 100 degrees depending on friction and what is running through the pipe. The temperature on the day they went to the pipeline was 11 degrees. The temperature above the pipe measured 73 degrees. Four feet away from the pipeline, it measured 28 degrees. The concern is that the pipelines are running through all the major wetlands in Wawayanda State Park and what impact will these temperatures have on the wetlands and on the aquatic life? Chairwoman Budz said they should monitor drying and discoloration of plant life in the areas of the pipeline. She also said she’s like to bring Dr. Ingraffea to come to the township to speak to the commission.
Commissioner Cathy McCartney said she contacted the township DPW, who will give them cones and possibly some signs to use for the amphibian-crossing project. There is still too much snow on the ground to go out for the amphibians, however. The project would be done at night. She will notify the commission members when the time is right. She suggested they meet at her house to further discuss the project. Chairwoman Budz said needs to discuss the project with the mayor or with the police department to see if they need a permit. She said she is not comfortable with it being an environmental commission project because of the potential liability and said she would rather it be a private volunteer project. Cathy McCartney said she did not contact the DPW as an environmental commission member or identify herself as a member of the commission but rather as a private individual, and the DPW told her she would need only to sign out the materials. The commissioners discussed a concern about speeders driving in the areas. Commissioner Michael Cheski suggested the township police could do DUI checks in the areas of the amphibian-crossing project. Commission McCartney agreed that was a good idea. Ms. McCartney said there should be a maximum of about four volunteers on the project at one time. Chairwoman Budz suggested writing letters to the editor to inform people about amphibian crossings and asking them to be mindful to slow down during the crossings. She also said she would try to get amphibian crossing signage with dates on them to make people more aware. Commissioner McCartney said the amphibians come out on one or two nights when the temperatures rise, and they head for vernal pools. Sometimes the vernal pools are on the other side of the road, and as the amphibians attempt to cross the roads, the oncoming cars kill about 75% of them, she said.
Chairwoman Budz announced the grant would be used to purchase and plant chestnut, elm, and ash trees, as well and other species including fruit bearing and shade trees. The fruit trees would be a good food source for the animals. She suggested the youth also get involved in the project. She also discussed planting evergreen trees in front of every fire department building in the township, a suggestion by Council President Brian Lynch. Vernon is the only township in the state of New Jersey to receive this grant in 2014. The grant must be written by July 2014 with plantings beginning in the fall. Chairwoman Budz also announced that the black bear sculpture would be unveiled on Mother’s Day.
The commission will get two tables for Earthfest, which is on April 27. Chairwoman Budz said she would like to put together a display on carbon and how it affects the environment. She asked Commissioner Cathy McCartney to do a display on frogs and about amphibian crossings. Secretary Jessi Paladini offered to provide graphics and text she created as a textbook editor on the life cycle of frogs. Beverly Budz asked for commission members to participate at Earthfest. She said the primary motive for the Earthfest participation is to educate the children. Cathy McCartney suggested reading a book about the environment, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, to the children. Someone could read it every hour, and the Earthfest committee can announce when the readings will occur. Beverly Budz, Michael Cheski, Diane Wexler, and Jessi Paladini committed to being at the commission tables at Earthfest.
Approval of Minutes
February 11, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes as amended with two revisions was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Cathy McCartney
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Cathy McCartney, Michael Cheski, Beverly Budz
Cathy McCartney noted the commission was going to find out why the cell tower height limitation is at 80 feet and who and why set that limitation. Chairwoman Beverly Budz will consult Zoning Officer Craig Roland.
Michael Cheski said he obtained and economic and fiscal impact analysis of bike trails done by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. He would like to submit it to the township council for its review and reconsideration of completing the bike path in town. He would like to do a presentation to the council on the benefits of a bike path for the township.
Michael Cheski said the recent ANJEC conference that he, Cathy McCartney, Diane Wexler, and Doreen Edwards attended was very informational and productive. He would like the members who went to report and discuss at the next meeting when everyone is present what they learned at the seminar. Chairwoman Budz will put it on the agenda for the next meeting.
Michael Cheski also stated that he was disappointed that the environmental commission was not specifically mentioned in a news article or from the mayor’s office with regard to the reforestation grant the commission got last year. He said there was no mention of the environmental commission at the township council meeting during the mayor’s report of accomplishments in 2013 and said many commission members put in a lot of time and hard work on the grant. He suggested the commission send out its own press releases to outline the commission’s accomplishments so that credit is given where it is due.
Cathy McCartney discussed her objections to mosquito spraying and said she calls Sussex County Mosquito Control every year to tell them not to spray by her house. She said the environmental commission should write a letter to the editor, telling residents they have the option to call and ask not to have spraying near their homes. She also suggested the letter include the phone number for Sussex County Mosquito Control. Chairwoman Beverly Budz said while she feels there are problems with the chemicals used, on the other hand, the West Nile Virus caused by mosquitos is also a serious health risk. She said the mosquito infestation is so bad in some of the lake communities that residents cannot even go outside their homes. She does not think the commission should do what Cathy McCartney recommended because mosquitos cause a number of other inherent health problems, and the commission should not take such a position. Ms. Budz suggested education on preventing excessive population of mosquitos by such things as removing any standing water around the home.
Secretary Jessi Paladini said that after writing to former environmental commission Chairman Crag Williams and requesting commission property that he has had for the past three years, he finally returned everything to the municipal center and left it with the municipal clerk for Beverly Budz. She also said she filed a letter with the federal Environmental Protection Agency stating the Vernon Township Environmental Commission’s position and recommendation that it is inadequate to merely cap the toxic site in Ringwood created by Ford Motor Company and feels all of the contaminated soil should be completely removed. She also said the new township clerk would be giving the environmental commission a password of means to access the wireless Internet in the building during commission meetings.
Chairwoman Budz reiterated the importance of letting the commission’s secretary know in a timely fashion if they are attending the upcoming commission meetings so everyone knows in advance if there will be a quorum. The secretary will send the email to the commissioners by the Friday preceding the meeting, and commissioners should respond by Sunday prior to the meeting.
Motion to Adjourn
Beverly Budz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:58 p.m. Michael Cheski seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on April 8, 2014.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted April 8, 2014