Minutes: December 21, 2020

The meeting was called to order at 7:03 PM by Diane Wexler

Statement of Compliance was read by Diane Wexler.

Salute to the Flag

Roll Call

Mike Cheski
Diane Wexler
Peg DiStasi
Craig Williams
Catherina Sawoszczyk-7:09
Debbie Coulson-absent

Public Attending

Beverly Budz, Greg Randazzo, James Santonastaso, Jessi Paladini, Sally Rinker, Sandra Ohms.

Peg DiStasi commented about the November minutes not being correct. Diane Wexler stated that she could bring that up in commissioner comments.

Peg DiStasi stated that the commission is breaking the law. You cannot change the recording secretary’s minutes. Diane Wexler stated that she and Craig Williams’s red lined the minutes after listening to the tape of the meeting. Craig Williams mentioned that the minutes were jumbled, bad and garbage. And the sequencing of the minutes were incorrect. Peg Distasi discussed minutes on another board were incorrect as well. Confusion concerning what minutes were approved and discussed in public. Diane Wexler stated that Debbie Coulson had trouble with the ZOOM audio while typing the minutes and had to rely on her handwritten notes.

Diane Wexler said that if you read the minutes and listen to the tape you can vote whether you were at the meeting or not. Peg Distasi said she would and bring it up at the next meeting.

Approval of Minutes

Craig Williams made the motion to accept the red lined minutes, Catherina Sawoszczyk seconded the motion, roll call vote: Diane Wexler-Aye, Craig Williams-Aye, and Catherina Sawoszczyk-Aye.

Public Participation

Jessi Paladini stated she was not sure of what she just heard but you do not alter the secretary’s minutes. No one is allowed to revise the minutes it has to be done at a public meeting. Diane Wexler and Craig Williams redlined them. Jessi Paladini asked what business Tennessee Gas Pipeline has in Vernon.

Diane Wexler said we will go into that later in the meeting.

Sandy Olms asked about the composting. Where will it be placed in Vernon? Will it be in the garden area?The garden area is right in the middle of a community. Craig Williams stated that the board of education owns that property and does not know how long the garden will remain there.

The commission stated that they haven’t gotten that far yet. Craig Williams and Mike Cheski said that they are waiting for a call back from Lambertville for guidance. “We are just an advisory commission,” we gather information and then present it to the council.

Beverly Budz questioned if your commission is advisory how can you write a letter to TGP? What is the sense if the commission has no power?

Diane Wexler stated that the attorney asked the commission to keep an eye out

Beverly Budz asked about the compression station being in West Milford? since it is not in Vernon why is it on our agenda? What do you hope to gain? Craig Williams stated “information.”

The meeting was closed to the public.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Craig Williams discussed the land use meeting on December 9, 2020. Items were on the agenda: Diamond and T-Mobile. Variances are involved and a tower without leaves, 160 ft. lattice power station on the end of Vanderhoef Court. The applicant had a PDF document and screen shared with the commission. The applicant and their attorney supplied the presentation and questions. The commission does not have any previous PDF files from the applicant. This was approved. The land use board wants a limit of one applicant per meeting via ZOOM.

The land use board will have their first meeting of the New Year on January 13, 2021. They will be reviewing Farm 94 LLC with the engineer and planner and a completed application. The land use board also came up with ZOOM meetings protocol for approval.

Applications under Review

Diane Wexler stated none.

Old Business

Township Composting

Mike Cheski said he called Lambertville many times and even sent a letter with no response. Oakland, NJ will only sell composters discounted to town residents and do not have a program. Craig Williams stated that he met a Vernon High School graduate that started a business in composting. On a weekly basis he picks up compost items for about $10 a month. His name is Adam Briscoll of Viking Compost.

Diane Wexler stated that we have to come up with a plan. Can the town sell compost to residents? Mike Cheski stated they would probably give the compost to residents. A lot of work has been done researching this project. Mike Cheski mentioned the garbage disposal research that they came up with a plan, sent it to the council and nothing happened.

It was suggested that Mike Cheski contact DPW for their opinion. Craig Williams suggested the recycle center because it has the room and a fence. Mike Cheski mentioned the scent attracts bears. Diane Wexler added that you cannot put food in the compost area.

Storm Water Management

Diane Wexler forwarded the PowerPoint from last meeting. There is an early March deadline. The town manager and Cory Stoner, Vernon Twp engineer, are checking ordinances that are current with the state laws. We need to pay attention to ordinances because of recharge (absorption) Craig Williams said the run off from one property to another is not allowed.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline

Diane Wexler gave Catherina Sawoszczyk and Craig Williams the letter. Peg DiStasi and Mike Cheski did not have copies. Diane Wexler screen shared the letter. Craig Williams stated that if he was writing the letter he would head/title it clearer. Senior Project Manager, Keith @ Jacobs.com, etc. Diane Wexler stated the letter was not sent yet. Craig Williams said it needs more to it. Craig Williams said the letter was dated September 4, 2020 with an e-mail address and letterhead. We need a proper name to address. Mike Cheski mentioned a typo. Craig Williams dictated changes. His concern is “class changes” in the wording used by TGP in their 16 page document. Diane Wexler hopes they reinforce pipes. Craig Williams asks Diane Wexler to send him what she means by reinforcement of pipes. Peg DiStasi asked for the original letter. Craig Williams said he would scan it and send it over. Diane Wexler said they are being too vague. Craig Williams mentioned Section 1-3 point of information, section 4-5 resolved things, when first installed. Peg DiStasi asked about the impact on Vernon? This needs to be put in the letter. Craig Williams will work on it. The letter is connected to the maintenance project.

Craig Williams followed up with the town manager and requested information NRI mapping. The town clerk or secretary has the 2004 document. This was made aware to the council and for the master plan update.

Diane Wexler stated that we need to comply with the state. The other town councils, Wantage and West Milford, were contacted and they do not want the compressor station and we do not either.

Peg DiStasi asked how old the pipes were. Diane Wexler commented that the original pipeline pipes were from the 1950s. In 2009 loops were installed in the system. These run parallel to the original gas lines. Craig Williams and Diane Wexler have maps of the pipeline. The Town was supposed to let the public know about all this.

New Business

None

Public Participation - Any Item

Peg DiStasi asked about the November minutes approval.

Beverly Budz asked if a commissioner of the environmental commission has a topic for the board it should be put on the agenda. The Delta Gas Station dug up their old tanks and the dirt piles went into the wetlands. She took pictures and called DEP that it was a violation of the wetlands. She will get a full report and share it with the commission. In 2011 when Craig Williams and Mike Cheski were on the commission along with Jessi Paladini as chairwoman, she witnessed trees being gone in certain areas. Jessi Paladini respected her enough to put the issue on the agenda. Why couldn’t the situation with the Delta Gas Station be put on tonight’s agenda? Diane Wexler said to Beverly Budz that Beverly handled the situation by herself with the Delta Gas Station. Craig Williams disagreed with Diane Wexler and said he would have added it to the agenda. Mike Cheski agreed. Diane Wexler muted Beverly Budz after 4 minutes. (3 minute limit).

Peg DiStasi said it should have been put on the agenda.

Jessi Paladini commented on the 3 minute rule and the comments made to Peg DiStasi from Craig Williams as to “get a grip.” Jessi Paladini stated that the commission is missing the point. Citizens should not be doing the commission’s job. For the past three weeks we have had major storm issues with water flowing down Breakneck Drive and run off effecting FW1 Trout Maintenance. Corey Stoner is looking into the Acme and Delta problems. We care about our waterways. The commission talks about TGP but ignores our waterways. Craig Williams stated with the removal of Acme debris, a call was made, met with the contractor and a letter was sent to the owner. Nothing has been done.

With the commission not doing enough the public formed a group called the Vernon Eagles, as their own environmental group. They have contacted the state on their own about the FW1 Trout Maintenance Stream. Diane Wexler stated that Jessi Paladini was given 5 and half minutes.

James Santonastaso: introduced himself and said he is not a resident of Vernon but lives in Hampton; he stated that the comments sound like sour grapes. The public should be able to go to the commission and then the commission goes to the council for a resolution. If Beverly Budz did not call the DEP Diane Wexler would have. The problems are being brought to the commission, you do not have to go out and look for the problems. And rules should be followed (3 minute limit).

Greg Randazzo introduced himself as an undergraduate and that he applied to join the environmental commission. He attends Cornell University and is on the Climate Justice Cornell group. He thinks it would be a good idea for commissioners to attend council meetings. Craig Williams said that we have put items to the attention of the council for the agenda. The commissioners should be at the council meetings. Peg DiStasi stated that we hope you get on the commission. We need young blood.

Beverly Budz said that commissioners issues should be put on the agenda. Peg DiStasi asked for the Delta to be put on the agenda.

Jessi Paladini asked what they are doing. Our wetlands cannot handle dredging. This should be included in a letter of our concerns.

Closed the meeting to the Public.

Commissioner Comments

Peg DiStasi stated that EAGLE contacted her with the three items that warranted attention. We need to push the council, something needs to be done.

Diane Wexler asked how Peg DiStasi meant “pushing” Peg DiStasi mentioned going to a council meeting and giving a brief report from the environmental commission. Diane Wexler asked if Peg DiStasi meant like a department report.

Peg DiStasi said that Silver Spruce was ignored from 2008-2014 same as this case will be. Diane Wexler stated that lobbying at council meetings will be a goal for next year. Peg DiStasi said we should have a report at every council meeting. She is an environmentalist, we need to listen in the beginning and take a stand now. It is state protected waterways and the town should protect it.

Craig Williams asked how.

Peg DiStasi stated to report to the council that there is a problem, and then the mayor should make the call. Diane Wexler stated that the zoning officer might be able to enforce ordinances.

Mike Cheski talked about bear resistant garbage cans. It has been a two year wait for the council to vote on this. Diane Wexler stated that there is no 100% bear resistant cans

Mike Cheski asked why it wasn’t voted on.

Craig Williams said to remind the council of the resolution.

Peg DiStasi said that the January meeting requesting time at each council meeting should be one issue at a time.

Craig Williams said at the December 3, 2020 council meeting it was talked about have an open space committee with seven members. Mayor, council member, land use board member, environmental commissioner, recreation member, and two citizens at large. This is not established yet.

Catherina Sawoszczyk congratulated the EAGLES. We need more environmental committees to cover this large community.

Diane Wexler congratulated the EAGLES and stated that we need more than five people to do the job. January 12, 2021 will be the reorganization meeting. And wishes everyone a happy holiday.

Mike Cheski asked why we couldn’t have a ZOOM in November or October. It was discussed the problem with PDF and could ZOOM Instead of the applicant presenting we would have to present. We couldn’t ZOOM a map.

Adjournment

Mike Cheski made the motion to adjourn, second by Catherina Sawoszczyk. All in favor.

Meeting time was 1:52.

Respectfully submitted,
Debbie Coulson/ 12/28/20