Minutes: February 10, 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
|Alyssa Portaro (arrived at 7:15 p.m.)||P|
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 Public
Motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Diane Wexler.
Seconded by Doreen Edwards
All were in favor.
3. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler said she had no report because the last two land use board meetings were canceled.
4. Applications under Review
5. Old Business
A. Forestry Grant
Beverly Budz said she has been trying to reach Evan Diluvio to discuss options for placement of trees. Diane Wexler said one option might be to plant trees on township easements, but they might not be easy to identify and obtain. She is going to consult with a realtor to identify owners of large tracts of land. Doreen Edwards said another option might be to purchase a different tract of open space since Camp Sussex appraisals are not yet public. Another open space tract might be more viable. Diane Wexler questioned whether the large tract of land adjacent to the solar property owned by Andrew Mulvihill might be a consideration for purchase. Beverly Budz said she spoke with Mayor Marotta, and the idea of creating “pocket parks” throughout the township for the planting of trees might be another consideration. Beverly Budz said municipal firehouses, the dog park, and the community garden properties are also areas where trees can be planted. Beverly Budz said the commission would move forward to obtain the forestry grant, with or without the town’s purchase of Camp Sussex.
B. Discussion on Bear-Proof Container Resolution
Beverly Budz asked Secretary Jessi Paladini to clarify something about the bear-proof legislation. Commission member Cathy McCartney had stated at the last meeting that the legislation as proposed by the Senate and the Assembly did not mandate the use of bear-resistant containers. It was Ms. McCartney’s contention that the minutes incorrectly stated there was a mandate on the bear-proof containers when she alleged there was not. Ms. Paladini read from the official proposed legislation and clarified that in the synopsis of the legislation, right in the very first paragraph, specifically contains the wording “requires use of bear resistant containers in areas located in black bear habitat,” which was the exact wording in the environmental commission’s wording, which the commissioners had all approved, including Commissioner McCartney.
Beverly Budz said the commission has discussed back and forth whether or not to support the proposed legislation. She said it would be nice if everyone had bear-proof garbage cans but does not think it should be a legislated mandate to require citizens to spend upwards of $75 for a garbage can, particularly when most homes need two of them. She said she would like to see more enforcement when residential and commercial garbage is strewn about. She thought the commission might be able to propose more of an awareness campaign and speak with the municipal police department about stronger enforcement, but she thinks the proposed legislation is too stringent because of the mandate on the costly cans. She suggested the commission, perhaps Cathy McCartney, can write its own resolution encouraging awareness and enforcement and present it to the township council and to the police department.
Secretary Jessi Paladini suggested getting a copy of the local ordinances first to find out what they say about garbage disposal and how garbage is put out locally. The commission will investigate existing codes and ordinances first.
C. Discussion of Pilgrim Pipeline
Beverly Budz handed out an overview of the Pilgrim Pipeline, where it will be located, and what towns will be affected. She said many New Jersey municipalities have adopted resolutions opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline. Those municipalities include Berkeley Heights, Bloomingdale, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Clark, Cranford, East Hanover, Fanwood, Florham Park, Kinnelon, Livingston, Madison, Mahwah, Millburn, Montville, Oakland, New Providence, Parsippany, Pequannock, Passaic County Freeholders, Pompton Lakes, Rahway, Riverdale, Roseland, Rochelle Park, South Orange, Watchung, West Orange, Westfield, and Woodbridge. She said boards of education in New Jersey and a number of neighboring Orange County, NY, municipalities also adopted a resolution opposing the pipeline. She said the Vernon Township Environmental Commission is not alone in its concern about the pipeline, and she feels the commission should take action on it.
Doreen Edwards said she was in on an environmental conference call that discussed the pipeline, led by Matt Smith, an organizer with the national non-profit Food & Water Watch. Diane Wexler said ANJEC was also involved with the conference call. She said they gave sound points on how local commissions and environmental groups could oppose it legislatively and give good presentations of their concerns. She said there would also be a second call if commissioners are interested in participating and said she would email notes to the secretary to distribute to the other commissioners.
Because Commission Cathy McCartney had first proposed adopting a resolution opposing the pipeline, Ms. Budz felt the commission members should wait until Ms. McCartney is present at the next meeting so she could also have the benefit of voting on the resolution she proposed the commission adopt. The matter will be put on the agenda for the next meeting. She also said she would contact environmentalist Michael Jay of Chester, NY, a vocal and knowledgeable pipeline opponent, to ask him to speak with the commission at a future meeting. Mr. Jay did a presentation on fracking for the Vernon Environmental Commission nearly two years ago.
6. New Business
A. Environmental Resource Inventory
The recording secretary, by request of Chairwoman Beverly Budz, gave a presentation to the commission on the latest township ERI, identifying environmentally sensitive areas and township infrastructure. The ERI maps out preservation areas, land use capability in the various zones, stream boundaries, slopes, forests, watershed areas and their values, open waters, riparian areas and their integrity, critical wildlife habitats, natural areas, vernal pools, conservation and preserved lands, geological areas, groundwater recharge areas, water quality and impaired waters, wellheads, agricultural resources, and so on. The secretary said the ERI and its associated maps are the commission’s most useful resources when making decisions on township environmental issues and reviewing applications for development.
B. Revised Highlands Resolution
The commission reviewed the revised resolution. Chairwoman Beverly Budz explained that the Highlands Council has given municipalities some leeway in approving small projects in the Highlands Region. The revised resolution addresses the new parameters for Vernon Township and the governing body’s authorities regarding it. Ms. Budz will obtain a copy of the original resolution to see what revisions had been made.
7. Approval of Minutes
January 13, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Diane Wexler and seconded by Beverly Budz.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Alyssa Portaro, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
8. Commissioner Comments
Chairwoman Beverly Budz said she received the Environmental Inventory Study from Mountain Creek. She said the study was done in October 2000 and is pretty extensive. She is going to try to get a digital copy so that she can send it to each of the commissioners for their review. She said she found the study to be very informative.
Ms. Budz said she also received Mountain Creek’s traffic study that was done in 2007. She said it is eight years old and might need to be updated. She will try to get electronic copies of the traffic study for the commissioners as well. Diane Wexler said she would attempt to scan it for the commissioners.
Ms. Budz also noted that there is some money in the commission budget for training classes and workshops. If the commissioners are interested, they should let her know.
Doreen Edwards noted some of the training is held in Trenton, which is quite a drive.
Ms. Edwards also circulated a book she had taken out from the library, entitled Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees by David Moore and John White and asked if the commissioners were interested in borrowing it or renewing it from the library. The tree book could assist in the selection for the forestry grant.
Beverly Budz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:32 p.m. Diane Wexler seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on March 10, 2015.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted March 10, 2015