All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.

Minutes: February 22, 2010

Call Meeting to Order

Dennis Miranda called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 adequate notice as defined in Section 4D of Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 has been transmitted from the Vernon Municipal Center to the New Jersey Herald on February 5, 2010, and published on February 10, 2010. Notice is posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Roll Call

Dennis Miranda, ChairP
Barrie BeaverA
Michael FurreyP
David GornsteinP
Dan BoltzP
Allison PetrykP

Also Present

Jessica Paladini, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

Open Meeting to the Public

Dennis Miranda opened the meeting to the public. Seeing that no one came forward, the meeting was closed to the public.

Closed Meeting to the Public

Environmental Commission Budget

Dennis Miranda has not yet spoken with the Township Manager about the Environmental Commission budget for 2010. He will speak with the manager and discuss the budget at the next meeting. At the February 1, 2010 meeting, the commission had agreed it would ask for $4,000 for 2010.

Environmental Commission Minutes

Michael Furrey asked if the Environmental Commission had received back minutes from former secretary Cynthia Davis. Jessica Paladini stated that Ms. Davis had submitted them to Township Clerk Robin Kline in December, but they have not yet been posted on the Township website.

The commission reviewed the February 1, 2010 minutes, and Michael Furrey questioned whether he could change his vote on the resolution for the purchase of the Masker Marsh property. He felt the resolution differed from what the commission voted on at the February 1, 2010 meeting. Dennis Miranda said there was nothing different in the resolution that was forwarded to the Township Council from what the commission voted on at the meeting.

Michael Furrey stated he wanted the minutes of the February 22, 2010 meeting to reflect that he voted on something that he understood to be different from the verbiage of the resolution. The commission unanimously agreed that heretofore, all resolutions will be ready before the actual vote or a vote on a resolution will not take place until the resolution is prepared and read into the record.

David Gornstein moved to accept the February 1, 2010 minutes; Dan Boltz seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Alison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Meeting Schedule

The commission will meet on the first and third Mondays of every month, with the first meeting of every month being dedicated to open space. In months that there are no open space issues, the commission will only meet on the third Monday of that month.

The commission adopted a resolution setting the meetings for 2010:

Designating Meeting Dates of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission for the 2010 Calendar Year

BE IT RESOLVED, in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-1 et. seq., the meetings of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission of the Township of Vernon shall convene at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey on the following meeting dates:

January 13 and 25
February 1 and 22
March 1 and 15
April 5 and 19*
May 3 and 17
June 7 and 21
July 12 and 19
August 2 and 16
September 13* and 20
October 4 and 18
November 1* and 15*
December 6 and 20

All meetings are to be held in the courtroom. Where an asterisk (*) is indicated, the meeting will be held in the small conference room.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all meetings shall be opened to the public and public participation will be entertained at all meetings.

Michael Furrey moved to adopt the meeting schedule. Alison Petryk seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Alison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

United Water

The commission received for review an application for United Water. Michael Furrey suggested the commission do a site visit, but the commission realized the application would be heard by the Land Use Board just two days later, on February 24, and there would be no time for a site visit or report. The commission just received the application. Commission members discussed that they are getting applications for review too late, which has been a chronic problem. They agreed to send a memo to Louis Kneip, Director of Planning and Development, and inform Mr. Kneip that they must receive the applications on a timelier basis. David Gornstein, Land Use Board liaison, will write the memo to Mr. Kneip and copy Land Use Board Chairman Martin Theobald and Township Manager Robin Kline.

Correspondence

Dennis Miranda reported on the correspondence the commission received:

Louis Kneip—Letter About the Open Space Inventory

David Gornstein questioned why the environmental commission was not copied. He will include this concern in his memo to Mr. Kneip and copy Robin Kline and Deputy Township Manager Brian Palaia.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline

No specific concern with the project, but the commission will ask the company to restore disturbed and destroyed plantings around the pipeline. Michael Furrey knows some of the people involved in the project, and he will ask them if there are funds the township can get to restore the plantings.

Scenic Byway

Dennis Miranda showed the commission a PowerPoint presentation on the Scenic Byway program. The commission is discussing applying to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for Scenic Byway designation of Route 515, from the intersection of Route 23 to Route 94 to the Warwick, New York, border as a scenic byway. Roadways are eligible for Scenic Byway designation if they contain any natural, scenic, cultural, or historical features or important sites. Dennis Miranda said the proposed byway through Hardyston and Vernon fits all of the criteria, having multiple natural, cultural, and historical features. There are also several sites just off the route that are listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. It will be the first scenic byway in the state to have all three criteria, he said.

The Vernon Township Historical Society will write the historical and cultural aspects of the roadway, while the Environmental Commission does the natural features and also completes the application. Pinwheel Vista, seen from Wawayanda Mountain across Route 94, is known for being the second most beautiful viewshed on the entire 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. Dennis Miranda said the scenic byway would attract tourists to the community and boost the community’s economic base while it will not affect zoning or land use whatsoever. Commission members unanimously agreed to have the chair draft a resolution to proceed with Scenic Byway designation for adoption at the March 1, 2010 meeting. Dennis Miranda will do a presentation for the March 11 meeting of the Vernon Township Council, and he asked all commission members to attend.

Earthfest

Alison Petryk updated the commission on the Earthfest Committee and its progress. She feels the event consists of too many commercial vendors. Dennis Miranda said the event should be “about the environment.” Michael Furrey suggested they work toward making the event less commercialized. David Gorstein suggested the Environmental Commission might take over the organizing of the event in the future to make it more “green.” Michael Furrey suggested the commission just take a more active role because the event is a very large venture. Alison Petryk and Michael Furrey will do water testing again this year. Michael Furrey said he would get the Environmental Commission’s banner from Dennis Downey. Dennis Miranda will get a map of the Scenic Byway to display at Earthfest.

Natural Resource Inventory

Dennis Miranda said the commission needs to create a new NRI because it is long overdue. It will cost about $15,000-$20,000. He said the Environmental Commission could apply for an ANJEC grant to pay for the NRI in part and could also partner with the Vernon Township Historical Society to apply for additional grant money for the NRI. As a non-profit community organization, the society could apply for a Highlands Coalition grant. Dennis Miranda said a decision to apply for the grants would have to be made quickly, as the grant applications are due sometime in March.

David Gorstein moved to pursue the grants; Michael Furrey seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; David Gornstein, yes; Alison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Appalachian Trail

Dennis Miranda discussed a concern about indigenous and endangered vegetation along the Appalachian Trail being destroyed during the course of weed-whacking. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is maintaining the trail, but the people maintaining the trail are too ambitious and are just clear-cutting everything. He said the Environmental Commission needs to take a leadership role in this. Plants are being destroyed every day. The local hiking group is hiking all over the limestone forest. He said, “We are degrading the very things we love.”

The commission agreed that while promoting ecotourism, they also need to play an equal role in protecting the natural resources. They agreed unanimously to hold a meeting with all the stakeholders to promote better sensitivity and protection: Parks & Forestry, Fish and Wildlife, the Newark Watershed, The Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, and the National Park Services. Dennis Miranda will also draft a resolution to adopt at the next Environmental Commission meeting.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Dave Gornstein stated he had no report at this time.

There being no further business, the commission adjourned at 9:40 p.m.

Jessica S. Paladini, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: March 1, 2010