Minutes: August 17, 2020
A. Call to Order: 7:18 p.m.
B. Public Meeting Statement
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this regular meeting has been provided to the public and the press on February 26, 2020 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.
C. Salute to the Flag
D. Roll Call
Present - Michael Cheski, Margaret Distasi, Craig Williams, Cathy Sawoszczyk
Margaret Distasi made a motion to remain as chairperson, with the resignation of Cara Brown. Craig Williams made an announcement that it is the desire of the mayor, that Diane Wexler will be appointed to commission and be chairperson on August 25, 2020.
Motion was not carried.
E. Public Participation - Motion was made by Peg to open the meeting. Seconded by Craig, all agree.
Jessie Palladini stated it was appropriate to entertain motion for Peg to be the chair for the time being. Craig questioned, define time being. Jessie stated until Diane if formally sworn it. Craig stated why go further and get on with the meeting. Cathy concurred.
Motion to close meeting to public made by Craig Williams and seconded by Cathy, reserving the right to reopen to the public later in the meeting. All agreed.
F. Land Use Board Liaison Report and Site Plan Reviews
a. No plans submitted for review
b. Suez Water application was approved amicably with Barry Lake Association to make changes to lighting, look, and minimize the impact on the neighborhood.
c. Craig Williams informed the board that the For Love of Mud, LLC application, LU#5-20-2, was rescheduled to September meeting. The applicant withdrew due to letter Peg sent to the land use board, which was appropriate to do. Craig stated it was good that Peg handled this, as Cara was not aware of the 5 day requirement.
G. Old Business
a. Updating NRI - Craig Williams forwarded the text that was approved to the mayor, awaiting a response. He will follow up with town administrator. Peg asked Craig to forward copy of the email that was sent for commissions records.
b. 3 Silver Spruce - Peg Distasi stated that a court date of 8/21/2020 has been scheduled by the receiver for non-compliance and eviction.
In addition, Mr. Wallace has been burning garbage at night. Fire department was called, awaiting determination of action. Fire marshall stated it is illegal to burn garbage to avoid pick-up fees. Diane stated that people have called about burning garbage in outside barbecue/firepits, there was resistance to addressing this from the town. Peg will continue to follow this.
Mr. Wallace continues to house 22 dogs, which he breeds and sells. This is against town ordinance. A discussion took about the town ordinance as to how many dogs are allowed. Sally Rinker stepped forward and advised that the number is more than 6 dogs requires a kennel license. Mike Cheski asked if animal control has been notified. Peg stated that they were and have been there, along with board of health, to evaluate the situation. According to email from the mayor, they found no concerns as to how the dogs are being cared for. Wallace is in violation of the ordinance for keeping a kennel. Craig Williams will follow up with animal control and contact Chuck Voelker concerning updating town ordinance. To be continued at the September meeting.
c. Solar panels on municipal building - MD
- No action up to this point because of COVID-19
d. Public Service announcement for Web page:
- Mike Cheski stated that he is disappointed in the fact that the town council has not addressed the information that was forwarded to them 9 months ago. Shortway stated that it would be addressed after the election, and is still not on the agenda. It was discussed to readdress Shortway about taking our recommendations seriously, as too many times issues have been shelved. We need to put pressure on the council stating we are here to serve the public and we want things to be addressed. Although we are advisory, we are serious about environmental issues. We are not wasting our time monthly, to have our work shelved. We are not here just to look over land use board plans, site plans, or community clean-up days. Mike concurred, and he will draft a statement to be voted on in September on the Bear issue.
e. Open Space Committee responsibilities
Resolution 20-01 - Resolution of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission to request resumption of the responsibility of the open space committee was submitted to the town council and shelved by Harry Shortway. Craig Williams indicated that Mayor Burrell and town council President Shortway are not negative to idea. Craig will follow-up and it was decided that we should attend a council meeting as a group to present this.
H. New Business
a. Testing on DPW yard on Black Creek. Awaiting results of testing done by Vernon, will be discussed again in September. It was decided that the commission should make a visit to the property, will schedule a date before next meeting.
b. Hiring Recording Secretary - A motion was made by Peg Distasi to hire Debbie Coulson, seconded by Mike Cheski, vote taken, all approved.
c. Responsibilities of Committee - To be discussed at September meeting, subdividing duties, having partners work on items to spread the responsibilities. Discussed format to follow when presented with situation where a commissioner is singly present and a statement needs to be made concerning the commission. It was decided that a proper way to handle is to state a voluntary member of commission, speak up and make a public record as an individual with experience, but you are not representing the commission. Call the chairperson after the situation.
d. Township Composting - Mike Cheski presented a few ideas as to how to start a town wide composting program; Have collection at our farmers market, have school compost systemically, “Rocket Composter,” Vernon Community Garden. Mike will investigate further, contact the Lambertville NJ program for information to discuss at September meeting.
I. Other Business
a. Single Use Plastic - Peg Distasi attended an ANJEC seminar, on 8/13/2020, held by the League of Conservation Voters. Single use plastic is a public health crisis and a climate issue. 36% of all plastic produced is single use. We cannot recycle ourselves out of the problem, it is an engineering problem. The answer is in our homes already, but people hate change, they want to do business as usual, habits.
b. What can be done now - 1. Do not use single use plastic. 2.
c. Do not discard products that have touched any bodily fluids into public spaces.
d. Use and wash your reusables with soap and water to kill virus, which can live for 2/3 days on plastics.
e. Ask checker to put your items back into cart and you pack them in your reusable bags at car.
f. If the store offers self-checkout, use it and pack yourself in reusable totes.
g. Be responsible and properly dispose of single use gloves and masks at home, not in public.
h. We must make it clear to our legislatures, we want this change. Adopt a local ordinance, do not wait for the state, as it is 2/3 years away. Bill S864 was passed by the Senate on 1/13/2020 and referred to the Assembly where it was introduced on 1/14/2020. You can follow the bill activity on njleg.state.nj.us.
i. Tennessee Pipe Line - Mike Cheski and Peg Distasi attended seminar. Not sure it really impacts Vernon directly, but will follow to see developments.
j. ANJEC recommends following Bill S-232/A-2212 concerning requirement of the DEP to evaluate environmental public health stresses. Will further discuss at September meeting.
J. Approve Minutes from July 20, 2020
- Motion to approve: Peg Distasi
- Second: MC
- Yes: CB, MC, MD, noted that Craig Williams had to leave meeting early and was not present for vote.
Correction of May/June minutes - The May minutes that were presented for a vote at the meeting were not submitted as written for public posting. Cara Brown, chair, removed the For Love of Mud LLC, LU#5-20-2 from the minutes totally. In June, we voted with the notation that the For Love of Mud was to be stricken, not removed. A motion was made by Mike Cheski, seconded by Peg Distasi, and carried to amend May & June minutes to reflect this discrepancy.
K. Chairperson Report
Peg Distasi, My vision for the EC is to be active in environmental issues that affect our community. Although we are an advisory board, I do not believe we have to be submissive in our activity. We are here for a purpose and it is my intention to be alert to legislature and guide this committee to success in protecting our town.
L. Commissioners Report
Craig Williams had no report as he left meeting early. Mike Cheski stated he was happy to see the energy level and interest increase, as he has felt that for 10 years he has not accomplished what he had hoped to. Cathy Sawoszczyk stated that we are volunteers who give up our time and service and should not be criticized publicly by naming us on public media.
M. Public Comments
Motion to open the meeting to the public made by Mike and seconded by Cathy, all in favor. Jessie Paladini brought up the Acme stream incident. She stated that the landscaper is repeating his actions of last year and she called the owner of Acme. We will further discuss this at the September meeting.
Motion to adjourn made by Peg, seconded by Mike, all in favor. Meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m.