Minutes: July 1, 2009

Call Meeting to Order

Mr. Williams called the meeting to order at 7:13 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 January 15, 2009, and published on January 20, 2009. Notice is posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Roll Call

Barrie BeaverP
Dennis DowneyP
Michael FurreyP
David GornsteinA
Dan BoltzP
Craig Williams, ChairP
Allison PetrykP

Also Present

Cynthia Davis, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

Open Space Kickoff Meeting with Megan Haidet, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey

Mr. Williams introduced Ms. Megan Haidet and explained that she is here tonight to start the process for the resuscitation of Vernon Township’s Open Space Plan (“OSP”).

Ms. Haidet, Land Preservation Specialist with TLC, came forward and explained that she will help the EC with their needs regarding the OSP. She explained that in her advisory role, which will range from the basic of meeting with the governing body to getting approvals for appraisals and grant applications, she will be helping Vernon spend their grant money efficiently. She further explained that TLC has connections that help TLC leverage funding. She can also work as the liaison between the town and the land owners. She can help draft contracts and coordinate all the due diligence work (surveys, appraisals, meeting requirements). She can identify the properties and work through the process to closing. She is contracted to attend six (6) regular Open Space Committee meetings, as needed.

Specifically, she will be helping with the outstanding Green Acre reimbursements for the Hauck property, which closed before the Green Acre funding. She explained that there is a laundry list of items to be turned into Green Acres including an updated survey and all the items needed to meet Green Acres standards. Ms. Haidet advised that, for the completion of the Hauck property reimbursement, Green Acres still needs a payment request form, a copy of the sales contract, a copy of the deed, and a copy of the title policy. TLC, in the future, can help coordinate all of these requirements at the time of the transaction.

Open Space Tax (“OST”)

Ms. Haidet said that Vernon is the only town, in the county, with a zero OPT. Most towns she works with have 1/10 % up to $0.02 per $100 for an OST. Green Acres funding requires both an OSP and OST. Vernon Township currently has and OSP but no OST. Vernon had an OST at the time they opened the Municipal Planning Incentive Grant (“PIG”), which has approximately $1.5 million with Green Acres. She feels if the Recreation and Open Space Inventory is updated, Vernon can apply for the Hauck property reimbursement, request additional funding from Green Acres in the future and spend the money in the PIG account.

Mr. Williams explained that the EC has a finite amount of funding and they are looking to maximize the flexibility to use the funds that are available to them to buy easements, to be held by the municipality, to be developed for a series of bike trails. Mr. Williams discussed the potential of Vernon being a destination spot with all kinds of biking (off-road, on-road bikes), birding, hiking the natural areas off the extraordinary Black Creek and Pochuck marshes, x-country skiing, etc. Mr. Williams presented the proposed bike trail map to Ms. Haidet and discussed various favorable properties, with the Walker Farm and Sirius Radio being the key properties to complete the greenway trail.

Ms. Haidet asked what the next steps the EC would like to see happen. Ms. Haidet suggested the EC ask the town council (“TC”) for approval to send a batch of outreach letters to landowners for phase III and she will help with that letter. Ms Haidet agreed to review the greenway PowerPoint presentation that Mr. Furrey prepared for the TC meeting.

Ms. Haidet will meet again with the EC either in August or September. Ms. Haidet confirmed that any landowner negotiations are to be approved by the township manager and will be 100% confidential.

Open Meeting to the Public

Mr. Patrick DiStasi, Glenwood ACT came forward. He thanked the members of the board who walked the property on Silver Spruce Drive. He updated the EC on the status of the Glenwood ACT issues and meetings on the Verizon Cell Tower application.

Mr. Williams advised Mr. DiStasi that what needs to be established beyond a reasonable doubt is the absolute need for a cell tower in a residential area. He suggested that the same cell tower might be installed on the (disused) camp property which is less than a mile away, which could provide the same service and would be out of a residential area.

Mr. DiStasi advised that he had met with Mr. Kneip (town engineer) regarding the flooding/icing problem which has developed on Silver Spruce Drive due to the runoff from the road not being maintained and the driveway installation for the cell tower project. He feels that emergency vehicles will not be able to access the road at certain times and this is a safety issue.

Mr. DiStasi asked what the EC board can do to help him. Mr. Williams advised that the EC can voice concerns on his behalf and that Mr. DiStasi might contact Mr. Roland, the zoning officer for help.

Closed Meeting to the Public

Approval of Meeting Minutes

Mr. Furrey made a motion to accept the minutes for the Environmental Commission (the “EC”) meeting of June 16, 2009. Ms. Petryk seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Applications for Review

LUB #1-09-2: NS Enterprises—Preliminary & Major Site Plan

The EC had no comment on this application.

LUB #5-09-9: Red Oak Properties, LLC—Preliminary/Final Major Site Plan

The EC had no comment on this application.

Old Business


New Business

Bike Path presentation to TC will be held on July 23, 2009.

The next meeting of the Environmental Commission will be August 5, 2009, at 7:00 p.m.


Mr. Furrey made a motion and Mr. Downey seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:23 p.m.

Transcribed by Cynthia Davis on August 2, 2009.

Minutes approved: August 5, 2009