Township Council Work Session

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 5, 2014 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Acting Council President Dan Kadish presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on April 28, 2014, and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, and Dick Wetzel. Also present were Mayor Vic Marotta, Township Business Administrator William Zuckerman, Township Planner, Jessica Caldwell and Township Attorney Kevin Kelly. Council President Brian Lynch was absent

There was no Executive Session.

Acting Council President

Council Member Murphy nominated Council Member Kadish to stand as Acting Council President for this meeting in the absence of Council President Lynch. Council Member Wetzel seconded the nomination with all members present voting in favor.

Salute to the Flag

Acting Council President Kadish led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.


Highlands Preservation Area Ordinance

Acting Council President Kadish invited Township Planner, Jessica Caldwell to the podium.

Township Planner, Jessica Caldwell explained that the Ordinance was a model based on the Highlands Preservation Board Ordinance. Ms. Caldwell explained this was part of the plan conformance the Township had been going through for the past several years. Ms. Caldwell stated the Highlands Ordinance was similar to the master plan and provided for limited development in the Highlands area. Ms. Caldwell reviewed the various portions of the ordinance including the exemptions list. Acting Council President Kadish questioned the approval date for the exceptions. Acting Council President Kadish questioned that if a project had already been approved would they need to seek approval if the work had not been completed. Ms. Caldwell explained that this would depend upon the degree of work completed and the time that had elapsed since approval. Ms. Caldwell discussed the various zones and residential cluster developments. Acting Council President Kadish questioned the steep slope provision and Ms. Caldwell reviewed the section. Ms. Caldwell reviewed the critical habitat, carbonate rock, lake management, water conservation, watershed, well protection and agriculture resource areas. Acting Council President Kadish questioned the agricultural resource areas locations. Ms. Caldwell discussed the areas and the possibility of a subdivision in those regions. Acting Council President Kadish observed that this ordinance appears to encourage development rather than agriculture and expressed concern that farming may disturb cluster development neighborhoods. Mayor Marotta discussed the land use law in relation to this ordinance and cluster development. Ms. Caldwell explained that this ordinance in some ways replaced underlying zoning. Acting Council President Kadish questioned the right to farm. Ms. Caldwell explained the Township has a “right to farm” ordinance which parallels state regulation. Acting Council President Kadish questioned the escrow fees. Ms. Caldwell explained the review process, noting that the fees often times would be deficient based on the amount of review that was required to be completed. Ms. Caldwell explained that this would create an overlay zone in the various regions. Ms. Caldwell further stated this was part of the initial master plan conformance to conform with the Highlands Region Master Plan. Ms. Caldwell explained it does not change the regulations but helps the Township and applicant comply with the program. Ms. Caldwell further explained it will help the Township in requesting grants. Ms. Caldwell noted that currently residents have to come to the Township and then go to the Highlands Board; this ordinance would eliminate the need for that item.

COAH Fee Ordinance

Township Planner Jessica Caldwell indicated that the Township had recently received response to the town’s COAH ordinance. Ms. Caldwell also noted the recent changes in the growth share COAH requirements for Vernon. Ms. Caldwell indicated that the previous obligation was for 389 new units and 31 rehab units. Ms. Caldwell stated the new obligation was for 203 new units and 58 rehab units. Ms. Caldwell discussed the township’s prior obligation and the Township’s compliance. Council Member Murphy questioned if the Township could purchase units in town to meet the obligation. Ms. Caldwell explained the township could do that but it would be expensive because the Township would be paying market rate for the units and selling them at the reduced COAH rate. Ms. Caldwell explained the fee ordinance and noted the Township did not have to adopt it right away. Ms. Caldwell discussed the commercial COAH fee and the changes to the status of the law. Mayor Marotta questioned how the transfer of development rights (TDR) would apply to the Highlands section of town. Ms. Caldwell explained the Township has received a grant to perform a feasibility study that would look at the structure and capacity of water and sewer in town. Ms. Caldwell explained that this information would be placed together with base zoning and additional density figures. Mayor Marotta indicated Vernon could be a receiving zone but only for rights purchased in Vernon.

Council Comments

Council Member Kadish had no comments.

Council Member Wetzel had no comments.

Council Member Murphy had no comments.

Council Member Rizzuto had no comments.

Council President Lynch was not in attendance.


There being no further items of business to be conducted on the Work Session Meeting agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Murphy, seconded by Council Member Wetzel with all members voting in favor.

The Work Session Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:47 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman,
Municipal Clerk