Minutes: April 16, 2018

1. CALL TO ORDER: 7:03 p.m.

2. STATEMENT OF COMPLIANCE

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 213, PL 1975, adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, PL 1975 of this regular meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 22, 2018 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the township clerk as well as posted on the township website.

3. SALUTE TO THE FLAG

4. ROLL CALL

Michael Furrey (MF) - Chair - P
Carol Kadish (CK) - P
Michael Cheski (MC) - P
Angela Erichsen (AE) - P
Craig Williams (CW) - P

ALSO PRESENT—Laura Lai-Minteer, Recording Secretary

5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Mrs. Kadish and was seconded by Mr. Williams. All were in favor. Seeing no one from the public come forward, motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Mr. Williams and was seconded by Chairman Furrey. All were in favor.

6. MASKER MARSH (new item—not on agenda)

Chairman Furrey said the Masker Marsh property has come up again. He said the town council passed a resolution for the township to pay some of the cleanup costs, which he thinks has begun. Chairman Furrey said there are two parts to the cleanup: 1) soil containing arsenic and mercury found in the middle of the property, 2) encroachment on the outskirts of the property. The bank that owns the property has new management that initiated the process. The cleanup will need to meet the standards of Green Acres for any type of funding. Chairman Furrey said the crossing permit still needs to be looked into for issues. He said there is a section of the property that is wetlands. The permit lapsed a couple of years ago so there is a need to reapply for a permit. He said the way the property is situated, if going straight from Maple Grange to Masker Road, it leads to going onto someone else’s property. Because of that, the path was redrawn to go to wetlands as opposed to changing the boundary lines. Chairman Furrey said the EC will revisit as progress continues.

7. LAND USE BOARD (LUB) LIAISON REPORT

a. National Winter Activity Center (NWAC) Sign

The maximum height of the sign was supposed to be no higher than ten feet, but the sign reached about twenty-two feet. It is to be placed over a gateway leading to cross-country skiing. While some residents raised objections, the sign was approved. Mr. Williams said there has been some vandalism, and residents want some control over access to and egress from the property. Mr. Williams said there was no environmental issue with this matter.

b. Route 94 Property Owned by Bruce Zaretsky and Boz Electrical Contractors

Mr. Williams said this matter passed and that there was no environmental issue.

c. Redevelopment Area

The study area was modified and then sent to town council for its action. Modifications involved taking out some residential areas that were not really a part of the town center scheme.

8. LUB APPLICATION REVIEW

a. 17 Old Rudetown Road

Chairman Furrey received this application in his mailbox today for Wilson Facility Management—final major site plan approval for the commercial paving company, Advanced Pavement Technologies (APT). Chairman Furrey and Mr. Williams said the application appeared to be for a new well, a new septic, and a new ADA ramp, white striping, and a guardrail for a proposed multiuse building. The EC had the following concerns regarding this application:

  1. Inadequate information. There is not enough environmental information available, such as soil logs, stormwater runoff or subsurface drainage.
  2. Subsurface v. surface. Water is being treated as a subsurface manner as opposed to a surface manner.
  3. Stormwater basin. Grates are showing for collecting stormwater, but it is not clear where the water goes or how it is being treated.
  4. Distance—potential concern. The distance between the septic tank/field and the well is in question.
  5. Size of septic disposal area. Disposal area is an adjacent lot owned by the applicant (shown on the tax map as a combined lot). The concern is whether or not the size of the septic disposal area is adequate.

Chairman Furrey said the maps were too big to be emailed. Mr. Williams said he is able to review large maps in PDF format. EC members said they preferred paperless. Mr. Cheski suggested addressing the issue of getting a secure WiFi connection for the municipal building so members can access the Internet when necessary. EC members also expressed an interest in having a township email address so that personal email addresses do not have to be used for township purposes. Chairman Furrey said he would look into both suggestions.

9. OLD BUSINESS

a. Review of Railroad Issue—Vernon Crossing to Sand Hill—AE/MF

There was no new information to report except that Mr. Williams will be bringing pictures to show the public on April 29 at Vernon Earth Fest.

b. Open Space—The Land Conservancy and Greener By Design (GBD) Proposal

Mr. Furrey said that nothing has really changed and that the the GBD proposal is to be presented for approval to the town council at the next town council meeting.

c. Vernon Gas Station Review and Other Identifiable Potentially Hazardous Sources—CW

Mr. Williams said it is not known if gas stations that closed were done so properly. The EC could look into whether the sites have been approved as clean locations if owners wanted the sites used for something other than a gas station. Mr. Williams said there is a plate for hazardous locales. Vernon Gas Station Review is listed under Land Use in the NRI. Chairman Furrey mentioned that the DEP maps for underground storage tanks are pretty accurate, which could be used as a source of information for the NRI. Mr. Williams said he found a free six-week online training requiring three hours per week. He said an in-class, three-day training costs about $1,200 to $1,300. Chairman Furrey mentioned that his brother is an LSRP engineer and will put Mr. Williams in touch with him. Chairman Furrey originally assigned himself to Vernon Gas Station Review, but it will be reassigned to Mr. Williams.

d. Water Testing—MF

Vernon Township has high levels of radiological contamination in private wells. The state offered 100 township residents free radiological contamination testing on private wells, and 89 residents whose homes are scattered throughout the township took advantage of the program. Treatment options are expensive. Chairman Furrey said there is also the option, if in close proximity, to tie into a community water system, and he is in the process of assisting a friend that is close to a public water system to connect to it. Chairman Furrey explained that the state is working towards passing a law to make gross alpha testing a requirement during the house sale process. He said gross alpha looks at all of the radiological contamination, which can be broken down to uranium, radium-226, radium-228, and radon. Uranium occurs naturally, and Chairman Furrey said uranium was found around the fault line, which is located in the western portion of Vernon Township. The EC would like to educate the public and produce an informational packet to place on a website. County health department representatives told Chairman Furrey they would be educating the public. Tomorrow Chairman Furrey will be going to Washington, D.C., and he will be meeting with Representative Josh Gottheimer, who is a proponent of safe drinking water and lead testing in schools. Chairman Furrey plans to discuss with him the radiological contamination issue in the township and the possibility of obtaining funding for remediation and public education. There is a Potable Water Loan Program available through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), which provides no-interest loans up to $10,000. Chairman Furrey is in the process of filling out an application and will provide a status update to the EC.

Chairman Furrey mentioned that there are some public water systems in Vernon that have some issues. He said Suez converted a house to create a million-dollar treatment facility near the Lamp Post Inn, and he believes there is another radium removal system located near McAfee Hardware.

Chairman Furrey will work on the material to educate the public about the issue and where to go for remediation. He said he will bring it to the next EC meeting for the members to review. Mr. Williams suggested adding the information that the gross alpha testing will be a condition of change of title. Chairman Furrey said regulation for perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) is for parts per trillion. Mr. Williams wondered about the water that is treated and returned, how much of the pills and other pharmaceutical products consumed actually gets filtered out. Chairman Furrey answered that this is a big topic in the water business and that pharmaceutical compounds are being looked at to be regulated as groups rather than individual compounds.

e. Vernon Earth Fest

  1. Exhibits. Mr. Cheski contacted ANJEC, and ANJEC will drop off a game to be used at Earth Fest. Chairman Furrey reminded members that the Earth Fest organizers encourage the event to be as paperless as reasonably possible. Mr. Cheski will bring informations about the amphibian crossing survey. Mr. Williams has pictures of the railroad ties cleanup that he can get enlarged. He will take more pictures so before and after pictures can be displayed. Mr. Cheski will prepare a survey for the public.
  2. Time slots. Chairman Furrey will attend in the afternoon. Mr. Williams will there early and will set up tables. Mr. Cheski will assist with setup and he will be available in the afternoon for cleanup. Ms. Erichsen is slotted to be at the table from 1 to 3 p.m. Mrs. Kadish will be there either in the morning or afternoon.

f. Secaucus Resolution to Ban Polystyrene—MC

Mr. Cheski said the March 22 Advertiser News had a survey showing readers split nearly evenly in Warwick on the plastic bag fee. Mr. Cheski will create a simple survey to be presented to the public about two separate issues: 1) plastic bags, 2) polystyrene. The questions will be similar to the following: “Do you support the elimination of the use of plastic bags in town?” “Do you support the elimination of the use of Styrofoam in town?” Mr. Cheski can draft a resolution similar to the Secaucus one but will wait to move forward until after the survey results are in. The drafted resolution will be discussed at the next EC meeting.

10. NEW BUSINESS

a. Alice Brees, County Planner—NRI Review—CW

Mr. Williams had contacted Ms. Brees and asked her about mapping and what kind of county assistance, if any, is available. He said he requested her presence at this EC meeting and she emailed him that she would look into attending but that she believed that the county had shareable resources. Mr. Williams will go to the county website and see what is available. The EC will contact her and encourage her to come to the next meeting.

b. Natural Resources Inventory (NRI)—CW/MF

Mr. Williams explained the spreadsheet contains each section, references from the previous NRI, and plate information. Mr. Williams had sent to members Word documents for every section for the previous NRI. Chairman Furrey said the sections need to be researched online and updated. Mr. Williams said he downloaded the mapping software that the state recommended and registered Vernon as a group; there can be up to two people added for the sixty-day trial for map creation, but he does not know the final cost for purchasing a license. Ms. Erichsen offered to print large maps if necessary. Mr. Williams said he has thirty sheet maps of Vernon, drawn up in small sections, whereas the state GIS map is drawn up into larger, two-by-two-mile quadrants. Chairman Furrey said that he and Mr. Williams and other EC members did an NRI, which the LUB did not adopt. Mr. Williams believes the last one that was adopted was in 1992. Chairman Furrey said having an adopted NRI frames out environmental issues when plans are submitted. Without an approved NRI in place, a developer would not have an NRI that would need to be followed.

c. 3 Silver Spruce Drive Soil Dumping—MF

Chairman Furrey said Mayor Shortway requested for the EC to look into this matter. In addition to soil dumping at the Silver Spruce location, Chairman Furrey said the same company was dumping on Route 94, on the property next to the VFW. He said when he called the hotline to see if any residents had placed calls—and there were three separate calls placed: January 2017, January 2018, and March 2018—no one from the DEP had responded to any of these calls. Chairman Furrey said that normally if a substance is considered solid hazardous waste, it is referred to the county (like the railroad tie issue). Then county health officers have the jurisdiction to investigate. He said the DEP is investigating. Chairman Furrey said a couple of days ago he spoke with the head of the county health department and to Jim McDonald, and the county has few details about the investigation. Chairman Furrey said the DEP inspector did not get out of his car when he visited the Silver Spruce site and did not do anything about it. Chairman Furrey’s understanding is that the DEP is lax regarding rules for soil fill and moving of soil. It was in the newspaper about this man, Joseph Wallace, being convicted of illegally dumping in Warwick. Mrs. Kadish said the soil came from someplace down below. Chairman Furrey said some of the soil may have been moved from a contaminated gas station in Warren County. He said they don’t know if it is contaminated soil but that it is regulated by licensed site remediation professionals, LSRPs, rather than directly by the state. Apparently, LSRPs are investigating whether it was done properly and investigating similar dumping in Sparta, Fredon, and another area by this same company. Mrs. Kadish thought there had been dumping by Pochuck, but Chairman Furrey was not aware if that area was an issue. In 2009, Chairman Furrey visited the Silver Spruce property regarding the Verizon tower and said back then the wetlands were being filled in. He said the DEP cited Mr. Wallace in 2015 for possibly having an unpermitted landfill.

At the last meeting, the town council passed a dumping ordinance, which gives the township zoning officer, Alison (Larocca), the authority to investigate and enforce. The Sussex County Soil Conservation District is also looking into the soil dumping. Mr. Williams questioned whether or not there was silt fencing on the property because he said there is no barrier on the Route 94 property. Mrs. Kadish asked if there was a soil removal ordinance within the town, to which Chairman Furrey answered that it was his understanding that there was not. Mrs. Kadish said there was one written up in the ’90s. Chairman Furrey said he would be interested to find out if one had existed which allowed action.

d. GAAC Trail Clearing—May 20, June 10, July 15, August 12—Sundays @ 1:00 p.m.—MF

Chairman Furrey reported that twenty people participated in the clearing on Sand Hill on April 8, and it is completed. The next cleanup in May will probably be the PAL clearing.

11. LUB APPLICATIONS UNDER REVIEW

Block 233, Lot 9 and 11. Block 23.05, Lots 5 and 6

Mayor Shortway asked Chairman Furrey to bring the Sammis property, Mountain Creek, to the EC for review, with wetlands being the concern. Chairman Furrey said the LUB had approved the Sammis farm years ago, and wetlands were an issue back then and are still an issue. Mrs. Kadish thought it was for a hotel. Chairman Furrey said his understanding is that the Koffmans, owners of Mountain Creek, want to build through an investment firm called GreenVest, but under Mountain Creek and separate from Legends. Mrs. Kadish said the floodplain area was never really delineated, and Mr. Williams pointed out a steep slope area. Chairman Furrey referenced to Sussex National Development and Brian Kramer (sp?). Mrs. Kadish asked if they had the current proposal, and Chairman Furrey said he did not know and did not believe there are site plans or that it went before the LUB yet. Mr. Williams referenced Crystal Springs Builders, and Ms. Erichsen said they are not in business anymore. Chairman Furrey said there is a request for a letter of interpretation (LOI) from the DEP if it is encroaching wetlands. The property in question was mentioned as possibly being Block 231 (as opposed to Block 233), Lot 9. There was discussion and the EC members questioned who is the current owner. Chairman Furrey said the LOI is from 2006, and Mr. Williams said the original LOI was based on the map in hand. Mr. Williams said they asked for an extension in 2011 and then asked for another extension. Chairman Furrey read: “The freshwater wetlands and water boundary lines, as determined in this letter, must be shown on any future site development plans.” Mrs. Kadish mentioned there being a possible stream on the property. Mr. Williams said if the LOI stands with respect to the delineation of the wetlands, there is still no mention of setbacks or buffers for those wetlands. GreenVest can submit to the LUB concurrently with the reapplication of the LOI to the DEP, but Mr. Williams said that nothing can be finalized without the LOI. The body of the EC stated its concern is that there is a need for reapplication for a letter of interpretation from the DEP. Further, no action can be taken until that time.

12. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

a. March 19, 2018—Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion to approve the minutes was made by Mrs. Kadish and was seconded by Chairman Furrey. Ayes—Mr. Furrey, Mrs. Kadish, Mr. Cheski, Mr. Williams. Abstained—Ms. Erichsen. Minutes were approved.

13. COMMISSIONERS’ COMMENTS

None.

14. ADJOURNMENT

Motion to adjourn was made by Mrs. Kadish and seconded by Mr. Williams. All were in favor. Meeting adjourned: 8:43 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Laura Lai-Minteer, Recording Secretary