Minutes: April 14, 2015
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 Public
Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Diane Wexler.
Seconded by Doreen Edwards
All were in favor.
No one from the public came forward.
2. Close Meeting to the Public
Motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
All were in favor.
4. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler said there have been no land use board meetings; therefore, there was no report.
5. Applications Under Review
A. Letter from the DEP Copying the Environmental Commission on a Request from a Resident for an Exemption from Highlands Regulations
B. Letter from the Sussex County Mosquito Commission Discussing Spraying for Mosquito Control over the Summer Months
6. Old Business
Forestry Grant and Selection of Tree Species
Chairwoman Beverly Budz said she went out with the mayor to look at township properties where trees might be planted. The commission is getting a grant from the Division of Forestry to plant trees in the township. Some of the properties they considered are Maple Grange Park and around the dog park. Ms. Budz said the open space parcels the township owns are not very conducive for planting trees because they are already heavily forested or not easily accessed. Some species the commission will purchase include American Chestnut, Arborvitae, and flowering trees.
7. New Business
A. Garbage Control Campaign and Enforcement
The commission would like to educate the public on the municipality’s existing laws concerning the disposal of garbage, improper disposal, and enforcement. The township council is currently considering a revision of its property maintenance code, and the commission would like to be a part of the revision. The commission also has much concern about the problem of illegal dumping and garbage disposal. Ordinances 85:14 and 93-5 are already in existence concerning garbage disposal. There is also an existing property maintenance code. Beverly Budz read an excerpt from the township’s current garbage ordinance. She asked Councilwoman Jean Murphy to discuss the township’s current recommendation to form a revised property maintenance ordinance. Ms. Murphy, who had attended the meeting, said Council President Patrick Rizzuto was forming a property maintenance committee to review a new ordinance and to make recommendations. Ms. Murphy said the ordinance that is currently in place for property maintenance is not being adhered to by the township and is not being enforced. She said the township is trying to address bank-owned homes in light of so many foreclosures in the township. She said some of the foreclosed homes are being vandalized and robbed. Ms. Murphy said resident Gary Martinsen, who operates a cafe on Route 94, reported watching people pull up in their cars to a vacant home near him and load up their cars with things taken from the home, presumably taking what does not belong to them. She said they are taking out of these homes whatever they want. Ms. Murphy added there are many issues that need to be addressed regarding property maintenance, and she said the whole issue is that the township already does have property maintenance codes in place but the township is not enforcing those codes. What needs to be added to the codes is going after the banks that have the foreclosed properties, she said. That is a whole separate issue, she said. She also mentioned the township council’s action to eliminate the advisory board of health and said she does not know or think there ever was an advisory board of health. The recording secretary confirmed there was such an advisory board but has not met in years. Ms. Murphy said the township council is trying to remove the advisory board of health from the township code because it is not being used.
Beverly Budz said it is important to understand who is the first line of action. To whom is a violation reported? Who enforces violations? She said she spoke with Police Chief Randy Mills and asked him or a representative from the police department to attend a meeting of the environmental commission to discuss the township’s existing ordinances for disposing of garbage and the enforcement of the ordinances. Police Chief Mills said he was not interested in attending a meeting at this time and did not send a representative. The commission decided to send the police chief a letter with questions regarding the ordinances and enforcement for his responses. Diane Wexler will compile the questions and send them to the commissioners and to the recording secretary to forward to the chief. They will also extend another invitation to the chief or to his representative to attend an environmental commission meeting.
Motion to approve writing a letter to the police chief was made by Alyssa Portaro.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
The commission discussed participation in Earthfest on April 26 and some ideas for their table. Some of the ideas they discussed were the creation of bat houses and bluebird houses for children to decorate, education on mosquito control spraying, the dangers of the use of Round Up for killing weeds and its effect on Monarch butterflies, education on an alternative organic and natural weed control. The commissioners also reiterated that they would not pay the Earthfest committee for participating in the environmental event. The chamber of commerce, which runs the event, was seeking $75 from the commission to participate. Chairwoman Beverly Budz said it is illegal to use taxpayer funds to participate in such events and said it was an insult to the environmental commission to be asked to pay money to participate in a township event designed to celebrate the environment. Ms. Budz will speak with Martin Theobald to ensure the commission will have a table and space to participate and present their educational materials. The event is being held at Heaven Hill Farm, which is owned by Mr. Theobald, but the chamber of commerce organizes the event.
8. Approval of Minutes
March 10, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Diane Wexler and seconded by Doreen Edwards.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Diane Wexler, Alyssa Portaro, and Beverly Budz
Abstention: Doreen Edwards (absent for March meeting)
9. Commissioner Comments
Commission Diane Wexler reported that she and Beverly Budz attended a meeting on the Pilgrim Pipeline. The commission opposes the proposed construction of this pipeline and opposes fracking. Members said fracking contributes to earthquakes. The Weather Channel has a special program about this.
Diane Wexler also suggested creating a handout for Earthfest on garbage disposal and bears getting into garbage when not properly secured.
Commissioner Doreen Edwards commented that the presentation on the Pilgrim Pipeline given by Ken Dolsky at last month’s meeting was very informative and excellent.
Doreen Edwards moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:20 p.m. Diane Wexler seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on May 12, 2015.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted May 12, 2015