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
Doreen Edwards P
Cathy McCartney (arrived at 7:07 p.m.) P
Alyssa Portaro P
Diane Wexler P

Also Present

Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary

1. Nomination of Vice-Chairperson

Beverly Budz moved to nominate Diane Wexler as vice-chairperson of the commission. Doreen Edwards seconded the nomination.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None
Abstentions: None

2. Resolutions

A. Resolution 15-01: Meeting Dates for 2015

Diane Wexler questioned whether the meeting dates should be changed for two specific months so that the commission’s meetings fall on dates before the land use board meetings for review of applications. After a brief discussion, the commission decided to keep the meetings as they are on the second Tuesday night of every month. The meeting dates for the environmental commission for 2015 will be as follows.

Regular Meetings
January 13, 2015
February 10, 2015
March 10, 2015
April 14, 2015
May 12, 2015
June 9, 2015
July 14, 2015
August 11, 2015
September 8, 2015
October 13, 2015
November 10, 2015
December 8, 2015
January 12, 2016 (reorganization)

Site Inspections (when necessary) 9:00 a.m.
February 7, 2015
March 7, 2015
April 4, 2015
May 2, 2015
June 6, 2015
July 4, 2015
August 1, 2015
September 5, 2015
October 3, 2015
November 7, 2015
December 5, 2015

All regular meetings shall convene at 7:00 p.m. at the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey. Official action may be taken at each meeting. Any modifications to this schedule will be properly noticed.

Doreen Edwards moved to adopt the resolution. Beverly Budz seconded the motion.

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

B. Resolution 15-02: Designation of Official Newspapers for 2015

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40:53-1 et al. of the Open Public Meetings Act requires that the environmental commission of every municipality designate an official newspaper or newspapers for the publication of all advertisements and notices required by law to be published by the municipality; and

WHEREAS, the second newspaper designated by this body must be one which has the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the jurisdictional boundaries of this body of such meetings; and

WHEREAS, The New Jersey Herald and Sunday Herald are hereby designated to receive all notices of meetings as required under the Open Public Meetings Act; and

WHEREAS, It is the opinion of this public body that The New Jersey Herald and Sunday Herald have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the jurisdictional area of this public body of such meetings.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Vernon Township Environmental Commission of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey that The New Jersey Herald and Sunday Herald and hereby designated as the official newspapers for the 2015 calendar year and will receive all notices of meetings of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission as required by the Open Public Meetings Act.

This resolution shall take effect immediately

Alyssa Portaro moved to adopt the resolution. Diane Wexler seconded the motion.

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

3. Mountain Creek Proposed Indoor Water Park

Andrew Mulvihill, owner of Mountain Creek Resort and Crystal Springs, was present at the meeting to discuss his proposed indoor water park project and to answer questions from commission members. Mr. Mulvihill stated that his proposal to construct an indoor water park included a hotel with 400 rooms, a 100,000-foot indoor water park, and a 40,000-60,000 square foot conference center. The proposed location will be at the site of the old Fest Haus. It will go from the Stewart House on Route 94, along Sand Hill Road, to the Black Creek Sanctuary condominiums. The project is within the village center previously approved by Vernon Township for Intrawest when it owned the resort. The project will also include additional outside pools and spas, restaurants, taverns, retail stores, ice cream shops, and action sports. The proposed project will not follow the condominium hotel concept where units are available for rent by individual owners; the resort owners will own the amenity outright. There will be separate entrances for the hotel, the water park, and the conference center. A pathway will connect each of the three amenities will enable walking throughout the complex.

Mr. Mulvihill stated the biggest problem with the current Mountain Creek Resort is that it is a seasonal business. The indoor water park will be year-round and will also provide year-round full-time jobs. He said the project would generate an additional $2 million in taxes a year for the township and an estimated $900,000 to $1,000,000 revenue for the township from the hotel occupancy tax.

Mr. Mulvihill answered a number of questions from the commission members.

Beverly Budz asked if the project would generate more traffic in the township. Mr. Mulvihill said if there weren’t more traffic the project would not be successful and said there would be some additional traffic but its impact would not necessarily be felt or become unmanageable because the traffic would be staggered. He also said the resort has shuttle buses that transport people. Mr. Mulvihill said he would like to construct a trail through the valley from Mountain Creek to Crystal Springs. He has done preliminary work on it in terms of the properties the trail would cross and what the permitting and budgeting would be. A trail would allow people to travel the valley without driving a car. They could walk, ride a bicycle, or cross country ski on the trail, he said.

Beverly Budz also asked if the indoor water park would be for overnight guests or for day-trippers. Mr. Mulvihill said it will be for overnight guests at one of their properties. He said there would also be days that the indoor water park would be open for Vernon residents, who would use it for the day.

Diane Wexler question how vapors would be released in the indoor water park. Mr. Mulvihill said there will be a sophisticated system of handling vapors. The system would be not only safe but also comfortable so there is not a high level of vapors from chlorine or other vapors. He said there will be a very sophisticated method of handling airflow, and it will be regulated by the department of health with numerous regular inspections.

Commissioner Alyssa Portaro said she has been researching alternatives to chlorine and found that at Chaos Water Park in Wyoming they use sphagnum moss to keep the water clean, and it allows them to clean the park’s pools naturally. After installing the moss filtration system, the park now uses 90% fewer pool chemicals. Using sphagnum moss also results in much less water usage, she said, and the amount of water used to flush the park every year has decreased from1.5 million gallons of water to only about 150,000 gallons. In addition to the savings, much of the water that previously left the facility as wastewater is now being cleaned with the moss filtration devices which allow Chaos to recycle its water back into the park, saving the resort an additional 375,000 gallons of water every three months, Ms. Portaro said. She also asked Mr. Mulvihill if he considered solar energy for heating the water. Mr. Mulvihill reminded her and the commission that he has been putting in a very large solar field in the valley and he is already “ahead of the game.”

Commissioner Doreen Edwards asked if the water park project would impact the historic Stewart House on the corner of Route 94 and Sand Hill Road. Mr. Mulvihill said in Intrawest’s original plan, the building was going to be relocated across the street by the maintenance building.

Commissioner Cathy McCartney asked how much water the project would use. Mr. Mulvihill said the total usage, if all 1500 units and indoor water park/hotel are built, would be about 242,000 gallons per day, of which the water park hotel itself would use about 60,000 gallons per day, and the water park itself about 30,000-40,000 gallons per day. Ms. McCartney asked if the water would be recycled. He said the wastewater would be pumped to the Hamburg facility, get treated, and brought back to Vernon and recycled back into the groundwater. In the water park, the water comes down the slides into pools and is then pumped back and reused and is recycled as it keeps going around in a circle. The water gets filtered. When the filters are cleaned, there is sometimes residue and water that is lost that goes into the wastewater stream, which is recycled after being piped to Hamburg, treated, and returned to the township and pumped into the groundwater to recharge the aquifer. The 242,000 gallons per day that comes out of the aquifer goes back into the aquifer, so essentially all of the water is recycled and the aquifer recharged.

Commissioner Doreen Edwards asked how many years old the traffic and environmental studies for the project were. They are about 10 years old and some permits for the project might have expired. Some might still apply based on the Permit Extension Act. She also asked where chemicals needed for the park would be stored. Mr. Mulvihill said those things are heavily regulated, but they are not yet at that level yet with resort plans.

Chairwoman Beverly Budz asked if the commission could have a copy of the environmental and traffic studies. She said they would also like to see the MSDS of chemicals used when they are at that point in the plans. The approvals that were granted based on the studies done might have an expiration date and they might have to be updated; otherwise they will rely on the same studies.

Chairwoman Budz also discussed a concern about extra carbon coming into the township with the extra traffic and parking. She explained the environmental commission is currently working with the Vernon police on a campaign to make people aware of the three-minute idle law and be mindful of what emissions from cars do to the environment. She said the extra traffic at the resort is a concern. She also asked Mr. Mulvihill if he would be willing to put up a few signs in his parking lots that tell of the three-minute idle law, which is a state law. She asked if he would be interested in working with the commission. Mr. Mulvihill said he would.

Mr. Mulvihill said the industry is heavily regulated and the resort would comply with all laws that concern the environment.

Chairwoman Budz also told Mr. Mulvihill she would like to meet with him to discuss the impact of the pipeline on his property and the heat that emanates from the pipeline.

4. Open Meeting to Public

Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Doreen Edwards
All were in favor.

5. Close Meeting to Public

Seeing no one come forward, Beverly Budz moved to close the meeting to the public.
Diane Wexler seconded the motion.
All were in favor.

6. Land Use Board Liaison Report

Diane Wexler reported there were no applications before the board for January 14, 2015 meeting.

7. Correspondence

A. Civil Dynamic sent a letter about the Scenic Lake dam on Block 260.18, Lot 2.01. They are requesting an LOI from the DEP for the boundaries on the property in order to meet DEP standards.

B. Letter from Conklin Associates—Concerning a violation in Lake Wallkill where work was done without permits.

C. Letter from Phil Girlando with a freshwater wetlands application check list for Block 194.05, Lot 14 on Mountain Trail. Mr. Girlando is seeking an LOI and a permit from the DEP to interpret wetlands boundaries and transition area on his property.

D. ANJEC Membership Renewal—The commission voted on renewal of its ANJEC membership for 2015. After a vote of the commissioners, Chairwoman Beverly Budz asked the secretary to renew the memberships.

Beverly Budz moved to renew the ANJEC membership. Cathy McCartney seconded the motion.

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

8. Applications under Review


9. Old Business

A. Pipeline

Chairwoman Beverly Budz reported that the pipeline company did a much better job this time in tree planting along Highland Lakes Road. The commission will do a site visit along the length of the pipeline once the weather gets warmer.

B. Forestry Grant

Beverly Budz spoke with Evan Diluvio and the commission will begin at the next meeting to select tree types to purchase with the grant money and will also consider locations for the plantings. They must come up with a plan to plant all the trees with the grant money the commission gets. The deadline for the forestry grant is 2018. The commission discussed open space properties the township owns and also discussed various properties that are in the Farmland Preservation Program.

10. New Business

A. Three-Minute Idle Law

Beverly Budz announced that the Vernon Township Police Department is working with the environmental commission in an awareness campaign of the three-minute idle law. Ms. Budz spoke with Chief Randy Mills, who was very supportive and eager to start the awareness campaign and also posted the news about the campaign on the Vernon Police Facebook page. The Facebook page got many positive comments about the campaign from the community. Three minutes of idling is the legal limit in the state.

B. Highlands Ordinance

Beverly Budz said the basic change in the Highlands Preservation Area Ordinance is that it will allow the township to grant exemptions on smaller parcels of land. Municipal exemption determination shall be issued by the land use board planner within 45 days of receipt of the application. The exemption will also have to be approved by the township council.

C. Natural Resource Inventory

The recording secretary’s presentation of the NRI to the commission members was postponed until the next meeting due to a computer malfunction. She will do the presentation at the February meeting.

11. Approval of Minutes

A. October 14, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes was made by Beverly Budz and seconded by Alyssa Portaro.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Alyssa Portaro, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

B. April 8, 2014 Executive Session Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes was made by Beverly Budz and seconded by Alyssa Portaro.

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

C. August 12, 2014 Regular Meeting

The commission had approved these minutes in September, but due to a complaint by Councilman Dan Kadish that the minutes state there was a “vote” on Camp Sussex when it was actually a “poll,” a correction was made. The minutes were corrected to reflect the wording “when the commissioners were polled on April 8, 2014.”

Motion to approve the corrected wording of the minutes was made by Beverly Budz and seconded by Alyssa Portaro.

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

12. Commissioner Comments

Chairwoman Beverly Budz thanked Andy Mulvihill of Mountain Creek for attending the meeting and answering the commissioners questions about the indoor water park project. She said he understood their environmental concerns about the park. She also wished everyone a Happy New Year and said she looks forward to a wonderful year on the commission.

Diane Wexler wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Cathy McCartney handed out copies of a proposed resolution to oppose the Pilgrim Pipeline and asked the commissioners to read the resolution and consider adopting it. Beverly Budz said she would put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Ms. McCartney edited the resolution for the Vernon Environmental Commission. She asked the commissioners to oppose the pipeline and support a moratorium on any planning, proposal, surveying, or construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline. She would also like the township council to approve the resolution as well. Since the resolution was not on the agenda, the commission could not take any action on it tonight. Beverly Budz will put it on the February agenda for consideration.

Alyssa Portaro said she was pleased that Mr. Mulvihill seemed very receptive to the commissioners’ comments and concerns. She also wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Doreen Edwards said she is interested in looks forward working forward to doing the tree selection with the forestry grant.

Motion to Adjourn

Diane Wexler moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m. Doreen Edwards seconded the motion. All were in favor.

The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on February 10, 2015.

Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Recording Secretary
Adopted February 10, 2015