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

Roll Call

Beverly Budz P
Michael Cheski A
Doreen Edwards P
Cathy McCartney (arrived at 7:10 p.m.) P
Alyssa Portaro P
Diane Wexler P

Also Present

Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Diane Wexler reported that the land use board reviewed the revised master plan for the Mountain Creek Resort, now renamed Action Park. LUB member Mayor Victor Marotta asked resort officials questions about significant concerns regarding the resort’s parking and traffic flow that impacted the area over the winter months during ski season. A subcommittee of the LUB will further review the resort’s plan and report back with recommendations to the entire LUB. There were no other applications reviewed.

Applications under Review

Chairwoman Beverly Budz read from a letter from Envirotactics, Inc. from Wall Township regarding an incident that required site remediation concerning Independence Corner Gas Inc. at 1596 Route 565, Vernon, NJ. Envirotactics has done some remediation, but Ms. Budz said the groundwater contamination has not yet been addressed. Ms. Budz will further review the incident and email the commissioners any information she learns.

Oaths of Office

Before administering the oaths of office, Mayor Victor Marotta said he questioned the status of Commissioner Heloise Ruskin. Chairwoman Beverly Budz said several months ago Ms. Ruskin resigned as a regular member and said she wanted to be an alternate. She was directed to send the mayor her letter of resignation and would need to fill out an application if she wanted to be considered for alternate status. Mayor Marotta said he has not received a letter of resignation from Heloise, who has not been in attendance for several months.

Mayor Marotta administered the oaths of office to Doreen Edwards, Cathy McCartney, and Alyssa Portaro.

There is one opening on the commission for a regular member and two for alternate positions.

Old Business

1. Three-Minute Idle Law

Chairwoman Beverly Budz reported that Earthfest was successful and many people stopped by the environmental commission table to chat, pick up brochures, and get information. Beverly Budz said the commission would begin working on signage for the Three-Minute Idle Law. It has been state law for a number of years and police are enforcing it, she said. She reported that she, Michael Cheski, and Doreen Edwards attended on behalf of the commission, and there was a lot of information on bears, fracking, air pollution, and more

2. Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

Diane Wexler reported there was only one more hurdle left in the state legislature to the ban of fracking.

3. Reforestation Grant

Beverly Budz said the grant still needs to be written, but everything else is in order for receiving the $364,000 NJDEP grant for reforestation. She said ordering and planting can begin as soon as the township receives the money. The commission will use part of the grant money to purchase chestnut trees to reintroduce the extinct trees in the township. Ms. Budz asked commissioners to think about what types of trees the commission should purchase. She suggested ash and elm trees as well.

4. Camp Sussex

Chairwoman Budz discussed the commission’s recommendation to the township council to purchase Camp Sussex with the township’s open space fund. Mayor Marotta suggested members of the environmental commission meet with the community neighboring Camp Sussex to walk them through the camp, apprise them of the potential to purchase it, and answer questions they might have. He suggested the commission share with the neighbors the future vision for the property for passive recreation and for a town park. It can offer a whole new vista for passive recreation for the community, he said. The commission had a lengthy discussion about the acquisition of Camp Sussex and its possible passive recreational uses. After the discussion, the commission agreed to have the secretary draw up a resolution recommending that the township council acquire the property with township open space funds.

Meeting Opened to the Public

Teresa Vihti, co-chairperson of the economic development advisory committee, came forward and said currently Camp Sussex is blight on the township and she and the EDAC generally favor the acquisition of Camp Sussex and it is part of the EDAC vision as well. She said she was excited to hear that the future plans for Camp Sussex might include a farmer’s market. Mayor Marotta said the famer’s market and many other goals are possible if the acquisition happens. Ms. Vihti said the EDAC has discussed a farmer’s market on numerous occasions. She loves the idea of the Great American Chestnut Park at Vernon. She offered the help of the EDAC in promoting the Camp Sussex project.

Beverly Budz said there are more than 800 families on the Camp Sussex Facebook page and noted how many young people were positively impacted by Camp Sussex in its more than 80 years in existence.

Doreen Edwards asked the chairwoman to explain what a “No Net Loss” grant is. Ms. Budz explained the reforestation grant program for communities impacted by the Tennessee Pipeline and the loss of thousands of trees. The NJDEP provides the grant money for affected communities. She said 53,000 trees were taken down in Vernon Township by the Tennessee Pipeline but were dismally replaced in the municipality. The NJDEP grant is not intended for the replanting of trees on the pipeline; that is the responsibility of the pipeline company. The grant money is a form of “restitution” for new plantings. Mayor Marotta commended Beverly Budz and Diane Wexler and the work they did with the Pipeline Walkers and also the planting of the trees with the first NJDEP Department of Forestry grant for reforestation. He said the Dept. of Forestry was so impressed with their work that they came to Vernon and offered even more money for reforestation.

Alyssa Portaro suggested that when they meet with the Camp Sussex neighbors, they take with them information packets to distribute, including photos and evidence of the vandalism, drug use, and so on.

Doreen suggested Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts might even do projects for badges at Camp Sussex. Mayor Marotta suggested a community garden or community orchards. He also said they could get a special postmark from the post office saying, Camp Sussex, Vernon, etc. They brainstormed different projects and passive uses said the possibilities are numerous. They also suggested contacting people from the past who went to Camp Sussex, including famous people such as Mel Brooks and Gabriel Kaplan.

Beverly Budz said she spoke with Andy Mulvihill about the pipeline, and he told her they had some underground wires “fried” because of the temperature of the pipeline. She said the resort cannot get enough water on the grass above the pipeline because of the pipe’s temperature. She said the commission will address the temperature of the pipeline at the next meeting. She wants to take the commission on a site visit of the pipeline at a near future date.

Approval of Minutes

May 13, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes was made by Diane Wexler.
Seconded by Beverly Budz

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Cathy McCartney, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, Beverly Budz
Nays: None

Commissioners’ Comments

Newly appointed commissioner Doreen Edwards said she is excited to having been appointed to the commission and looks forward to working with the other commissioners.

Alyssa Portaro thanked the mayor for appointing her and said she is excited about her term on the commission as well.

Cathy McCartney shared Doreen Edwards’s and Alyssa Portaro’s sentiments. She asked Beverly Budz about the resolution in support of bear smart legislation. Beverly Budz said she would like to table it for the next meeting before acting on it.

Diane Wexler said she is excited about everything the environmental commission is doing and looks forward to working with the new members.

Doreen Edwards said it is important that commissioners follow through with their commitments if they volunteer for something.

Beverly Budz thanked everyone for joining the commission.

Motion to Adjourn

Diane Wexler moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:33 p.m. Doreen Edwards seconded the motion. All were in favor.

The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on June 10, 2014.

Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Recording Secretary
Adopted June 10, 2014