Minutes: February 9, 2016
Chairperson Beverly Budz called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.
Statement of Compliance
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231 PL 1975, 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
|Richard Carson (called in ill)||A|
Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary
1. Open Meeting to the Public
Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
All were in favor.
2. Close Meeting to the Public
Seeing no one come forward, Beverly Budz moved to close the meeting to the public.
Diane Wexler seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
3. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler stated that since the last land use board was canceled due to a lack of applications, she has nothing to report at this time.
4. Applications Under Review
Block 230.05, Lot 1—21 Lincoln Ave.
The applicant is a request for a freshwater wetlands permit from the DEP so the homeowners can construct a new septic system. Their current system is no longer operating correctly. The commission had no concerns with this application.
5. Old Business
A. Gypsy Moth Aerial Spraying
Chairwoman Beverly Budz reported that Mayor Shortway has reported that the township will do the aerial spraying for gypsy moths this spring. She said a problem is, however, that New York State has not committed to spraying and also they do not know whether the DEP will commit to spraying Wawayanda State Park. The eggs and caterpillars can blow 30 miles, and that could result in infestation in Vernon once again if New York and Wawayanda State Park do not spray. The park is in Vernon and West Milford townships. West Milford Township has even greater infestation than does Vernon.
Commission member Doreen Edwards provided a map and documentation, research, and information on the state program for aerial spraying for gypsy moths. She handed out the colored map by the Department of Agriculture showing the extent of the egg masses in the community. The state park represents nature and beauty and people go there for swimming and to enjoy nature and recreation, and she can’t understand why they would not be willing to spray, she said. The Department of Agriculture made recommendations for areas to spray after conducting a ground study that revealed extensive gypsy moth egg masses per acre in Vernon Township, particularly on the mountain and in the lake communities. Ms. Edwards suggested a letter writing campaign to get Wawayanda State Park and the DEP to agree to spray. The state park represents the nature and beauty of our township, and the protection and preservation of the trees in the park should be considered, she said. She suggested letter writing to the park and to Warwick, NY, officials to encourage them to spray.
She said 15,997 acres are affected in Vernon Township, 6,000 acres of which are very severe. In West Milford, there are 40,632 acres affected with 36,681 of the acres severely affected. Trees can only withstand 2-3 years infestation before they die, she said.
Commissioner Angi Metler said she has no concern about getting rid of the gypsy moths but is concerned the chemical used might also affect butterflies. She asked what chemicals are used.
Commissioner Ed Nitch said the compound used is bacterial in nature and not toxic.
Chairwoman Budz agreed with writing letters to Wawayanda State Park and the Department of Agriculture and copy the letter to the DEP, the Department of Forestry and Warwick, NY officials and also copy Vernon Township Mayor Harry Shortway and the township council, suggesting a “good neighbor” community helping community policy for Wawayanda State Park and Warwick, NY, to also do aerial spraying so that windborne gypsy moths don’t come back into Vernon Township after the aerial spraying is done.
Beverly Budz moved to direct the recording secretary to write the letter and forward it to the officials noted.
Dale Disney seconded the motion.
Further Discussion: None
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Edward Nitch, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Abstain: Angi Metler
B. Open Space Discussion
The open space discussion was tabled until the March meeting because former Vernon Environmental Commission Chairman Craig Williams, who was invited to come and have the discussion with the commissions, did not attend the meeting. He sent email to the recording secretary that same day and said he would likely be held up in New York and would not return in time for the meeting. The secretary told him the commission could postpone the discussion till the end of the meeting and asked if he would come anyway, even if he should come late. She told him the commission consists of several newly appointed members who have many questions about open space and would like to discuss the matter with him, based on his expertise.
Mr. Williams incorrectly stated in his email response that there was no “relevance” in discussing open space with the environmental commission because the township council is responsible for open space in the township. State statutes confirm that by law statutorily appointed environmental commissions, such as the Vernon Township Environmental Commission, have the responsibility of indexing open space parcels, recommending open space parcels to purchase, and even purchasing the parcels with the consent of the governing body based on the commission’s recommendation. By the end of the meeting when Mr. Williams had not attended and not notified the commission, the commission directed the recording secretary to invite him to the March meeting.
6. New Business
Letter to Kinder Morgan Regarding Tennessee Gas Pipeline
Chairwoman Beverly Budz discussed the letter written to Kinder Morgan regarding the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and asking the company to respond to the commission’s questions.
Diane Wexler moved to send the letter as written.
Doreen Edwards seconded the motion.
Further Discussion: None
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Edward Nitch, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
7. Approval of Minutes
January 12, 2016 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Dale Disney.
Doreen Edwards seconded the motion.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Dale Disney, Doreen Edwards, Angi Metler, Ed Nitch, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
8. Commissioner Comments
Doreen Edwards asked the status of National Winter Activity Center. The new resort took down many trees, which was not part of the approved application before the land use board. The resort owner said he got DEP approval to cut down the trees after the fact because it was necessary. When asked by a land use board member how many trees were cut down, six or 600, he said he did not know. Chairwoman Beverly Budz had attended the January meeting of the land use board and asked the applicant to replant trees one for one for those taken down. The applicant said he could not promise an even exchange but would be in touch with Ms. Budz to discuss the matter. He has not contacted Ms. Budz as of this date. The applicant claimed it was Sussex Rural Electric that took down the trees along the edge of Breakneck Road, but he took down all the trees at the resort itself.
Doreen Edwards also reminded Beverly Budz that she was going to make copies of the NRI for the commissioners. Ms. Budz said she would have them for the March meeting.
Doreen Edwards also suggested some of the open space properties the township owns that residents cannot use because they are heavily forested could be made into bird sanctuaries.
Dale Disney suggested the commission could have discussions at a coming meeting about the baiting that occurs during the bear hunts.
The commission discussed the massive tree clearing that the resort has done, which was not part of the original land use board approval for the project. Beverly Buda and Edward Nitch went to the ski resort and took photographs of the tree clearing. Diane Wexler also stated that the resort has to replant trees along the abandoned entrance where they clear-cut. The entrance was changed because of safety concerns concerning the prior one. The members of the commission are not happy this tree clearing has occurred, but did not take any action pending further investigation of the matter. Chairwoman Beverly Budz will attend the land use board meeting the following night to discuss the commission’s concerns with the applicant and with the land use board.
Dale Disney circulated to the members some brochures on training course ANJEC is providing. Beverly Budz said the commission will become members again this year of ANJEC, and the fees would come from their budget. Beverly Budz asked Angi Metler if she would put something together about the baiting to inform the commissioners at the next meeting. Ms. Budz said the commission should also create a brochure to put at the township clerk’s office for the public.
Diane Wexler asked the recording secretary to distribute the 2016 roster to all the commissioners.
Angi Metler said having been recently appointed to the commission she is trying to get up to speed. She will do some independent research and would also research alternatives for gypsy moth spraying. For example, she said ants, wasps, bees, spiders, chickadees, robins, and other species eat gypsy moths.
Beverly Budz discussed concerns about the altered fish in the Wallkill River the New Jersey Herald had reported on in the previous Sunday edition. It referred to compounds that were reaching the waterways through runoff and in soils. She also said the commission needs to do a PowerPoint presentation on the township’s open space parcels and discuss possible uses for those parcels and a clear purpose for why they were purchased. She said they need to show the township taxpayers what their monies were used for. She is going to take photographs of the open space parcels to put together the presentation for the omission and for the mayor and council.
Seeing that former township environmental chairman Craig Williams did not attend the meeting as invited, all of the commissioners agreed to direct the secretary to invite him again to the March meeting.
Doreen Edwards also suggested asking Craig Williams about the commission’s water testing policies and procedures when he was chair. Beverly Budz agreed and said Mr. Williams is a knowledgeable individual, and they would like to understand some things from him. She also said the commission should go on a site visit of all the open space parcels at the commission’s scheduled site visit in March or April.
Ed Nitch said he agrees with and supports the decision to do the aerial spraying for gypsy moths. He also said it is regrettable that Craig Williams did not attend the meeting tonight, as he was looking forward to that. He was also looking forward to hearing from Tennessee Gas Pipeline and from Kinder Morgan, the company responsible for the pipeline. Kinder Morgan is a company headquartered in downtown Houston, Texas, and is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.
Mr. Nitch has done extensive research on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) and on Kinder Morgan, the company responsible for it. He said TGP and Kinder Morgan have found alternate uses for certain sections of the pipeline and are no longer carrying gas. They are carrying liquids, he said. He quoted this information from a May 4, 2015 article he found. The companies are trying to deliver natural gas liquids from fracking zones in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some of the pipelines are 70 years old, he said, adding he cannot imagine that they are doing this because gas is one thing, he said, but everyone knows you cannot compress liquid.
Beverly Budz said Ed Nitch’s concern is a valid one and suggested the commission should ask the companies if they intend to switch over to liquids in Vernon. Mr. Nitch agreed, saying that although the article refers to other states and along the Gulf Coast it could someday be a concern for Vernon Township as well.
Diane Wexler said she thinks the letter to the Tennessee Pipeline Company is great and is well written. She stated her concern about the temperature going through the pipeline. She said soon after a considerable snowfall, there was already snowmelt over areas of the pipeline. With the cold temperatures there should not be snowmelt in one day, she said, saying the pipes might be running hotter than TGP told the commission. She said driving through Ringwood today and observed that where there was snowmelt the grass is dead. She said the snow had already melted clear to the grass in the areas of the pipeline. She said if it is happening that fast, the temperature is not even close to what TGP to the commission.
Recording secretary Jessi Paladini told the commissioners she got the ANJEC membership renewal information and asked if they wanted to renew. All agreed they did. The secretary will renew the memberships for the commissioners.
Beverly Budz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 p.m. Edward Nitch seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission is on March 8, 2016.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted March 8, 2016