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 13, 2015 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
Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary
1. Open Meeting to the Public
Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Doreen Edwards.
Seconded by Alyssa Portaro
All were in favor.
2. Close Meeting to the Public
Seeing no one come forward, Diane Wexler moved to close the meeting to the public.
Dale Disney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
3. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler said there was only one resolution the land use board adopted and memorialized and no other recent business. She also reported that the town received an application from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company to come back and expand its project in Vernon Township. The project will call for more tree cutting. Soil erosion, mudslides, wetland destruction, and other environmental problems occurred during their first project in the township. The township wants more oversight during this phase. Councilman Patrick Rizzuto wrote a letter to Kinder Morgan, the parent company of the Tennessee Pipeline Company. Diane Wexler said the biggest concern for the project in Vernon Township was that there was no prior oversight by the township in its first project. The environmental commission got involved after numerous environmental problems and investigated the project. Wexler said during this next phase the company is being very secretive in its construction. This new project spans across many communities from Montague to Mahwah. Comments about the project from concerned municipalities or citizens must to be in writing during the DEP public comment period that ends in January. The recording secretary read Mr. Rizzuto’s letter into the record. Mr. Rizzuto said in his letter that if the permit for the project is to go forward in Vernon Township it must be only after meeting with the appropriate municipal officials and the environmental commission. Chairwoman Beverly Budz said the commission needs to do a site visit of the pipeline. The commission scheduled a site inspection for December 5. They will use the Cherry Ridge Road access site. They will also ask the land use board to join them.
4. Applications Under Review
Tennessee Gas Pipeline
The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company is putting in a new application for further expansion of the pipeline. The environmental commission discussed this new application briefly and decided to schedule a site visit to inspect the existing pipeline work. The commission will meet on December 5 at the Marketplace Deli in Highland Lakes. Site visits have all been advertised and are open to the public. The land use board will also be notified about the site visit in the event land use board members want to join the environmental commission. Chairwoman Beverly Budz suggested they go to the site inspection in four-wheel drive vehicles, as it is a difficult terrain to get there.
5. Old Business
6. New Business
A. Forestry Grant
Chairwoman Beverly Budz reported that a number of trees from the forestry grant have already been planted. Many of them were planted at the community garden and dog park on Route 517 near Dorfred Court. She said the township DPW did it in record time and did a fabulous job. Members of the environmental commission met there with Mayor Marotta and land use board member Joseph Tadrick to inspect the trees. Phase 1 of the tree planting project will be completed by November.
B. Water Use and Conservation Management Plan
This discussion was tabled until the December 8 meeting. Brochures will be made available for all commission members to review at the next meeting.
7. Approval of Minutes
September 8, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Diane Wexler. Under commissioners’ comment she asked to amend the minutes to include the name 350.org for the organization she reported on.
Beverly Budz seconded the motion.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Dale Disney, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None Abstain: Alyssa Portaro
8. Commissioner Comments
Alyssa Portaro said she looks forward to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline site visit. Dale Disney agreed and suggested they get other communities to join their concerns and oversight of the pipeline project. Dale Disney suggested the Vernon Environmental Commission could seek the support of other communities to join in its efforts concerning the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The commission will investigate this and work on it further
Doreen Edwards discussed the status of the commissions’ concerns regarding the notification policies of the Sussex County Mosquito Control Commission about the aerial spraying for mosquito infestation. She said she called the county agency to discuss it. She brought up the subject and asked if any other commissioner had further status on the matter regarding aerial spraying for mosquito infestation. The commission does target areas, she said. The public can request notification as well through an Internet link, she said.
The commission had expressed concern at its last meeting about the late notification to residents about the spraying and will contact the mosquito control commission and the police department to see if the communication and notification could be improved so that residents have more advanced notice. Doreen Edwards reported that the mosquito commission contacts police departments to give 24-hour notification of spraying. She reported that they do granular control and air control. The commission had authorized the chairwoman to draft a letter to send to the county to inquire about its policies and express concerns that residents are being notified too late of the routine spraying. Beverly will copy the letter she drafts to the other commissioners for their review.
Diane Wexler reported seeing a video about an initiative to get people to stop using plastic bags. There is a project called “Bag It” to encourage this. Warwick is already doing this program, she said. She suggested approaching the new Acme in Vernon to discuss the initiative to promote the purchase of reusable bags rather and look towards eliminating plastic bags.
Chairwoman Beverly Budz praised the township council for getting involved with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline project to have better oversight on their second phase in the township.
Recording Secretary Jessi Paladini reminded the commissioners there would be an open space and farmland preservation Meeting held in Vernon Township and reminded commissioners they needed to call the mayor’s administrative assistant, Irene Mills, to notify her if they plan to attend the meeting.
Alyssa Portaro moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:48 p.m. Dale Disney seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission is on December 8, 2015.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted December 8, 2015