Minutes: June 13, 2006

Meeting was called to order by Craig Williams at 7:43 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

The following statement of compliance was read by Craig Williams.

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 has been communicated from the Vernon Municipal Center to the New Jersey Herald and published on January 20, 2006. Notice is also posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Salute to Flag

Roll Call

The roll call of members was called and Dennis Downey, Gary Grey, Michael Furrey (arrived 7:56 p.m.), David Gornstein (arrived 8:17 p.m.), Brenda Susman and Craig Williams answered the call.

Open Meeting to the Public

Township Engineer, Lou Kneip, addressed the EC regarding the changes to the ESA ordinance. The EC and Mr. Kneip reviewed the steep slope regulations which will be increased to 20% in the proposed ordinance.

Craig Williams questioned Mr. Kneip about the Glenwood Management application to construct senior housing in McAfee. Craig Williams asked if the application was treated as a residential project or a commercial project. Mr. Kneip responded that he believed it was treated as a residential project. Craig Williams commented that the existing ESA regulations are much more stringent for residential development than for commercial development. Craig Williams further commented that residential development and commercial development should have the same ESA regulations.

Mr Kneip responded that both the existing ordinance and the proposed ordinance address primarily residential development. The standard is every new lot created must have 7,000 to 8,000 square feet of minimum improvable area free of ESAs. If it meets this criteria and it is a conforming application then it is eligible to be a new building lot. The problem with a commercial application is it is usually on an existing lot and the 7,000 square feet of minimum improvable area does not get applied. Gary Grey responded that commercial lots are more intensely developed, there is a lot more impervious surface than there would be on a residential lot and commercial lots are more prone to environmental harm if the proper measures are not taken.

Mr. Kneip added that the proposed ordinance will require the applicants delineate all ESAs on commercial applications and Section B, which applies to residential and commercial, prohibits disturbance and development of ESAs unless with express approval of the planning board for good cause shown.

Mr. Kneip offered to modify the proposed ordinance to make less distinction between commercial property vs. residential property.

Mr. Kneip also agreed to amend the proposed ordinance to ensure that both the planning board and the zoning board are obligated to enforce the ESA ordinance.

The EC agreed the 20% steep slope is acceptable.

Brenda Susman addressed Lou Kneip about the shade tree ordinance. Brenda Susman advised that the EC would like the caliper of protected trees be lowered to 8". Mr. Kneip replied that the proper way would be an amendment to the Lot Development Plan ordinance to reflect the change. The planning board would review the amended ordinance and make recommendation to the town council.

Approval of Meeting Minutes

Dennis Downey made a motion to approve the May 23, 2006 minutes as amended; David Gornstein seconded the motion.

New Business

Whispering Woods a/k/a Upper Plateau

Craig Williams read to the EC a copy of a letter from the NJDEP to Robert A. Handler of Woodmont Homes, Inc. The letter gave notice of intent to revoke Highlands Act exemption. It was brought to the department’s attention that a notice of violation was issued to Woodmont Homes on April 20, 2006.

The violation included filling a wetland and wetland transition area related to the subject project. Furthermore, the notice of violation indicated that Woodmont Homes has not applied for an LOI to verify the contention that no departmental approvals are required. Therefore, it is necessary for Woodmont Homes to provide proof to the department indicating that Woodmont Homes will abide by the stipulations outlined in the November 16, 2005 determination letter. Specifically, that Woodmont Homes has applied for an LOI and that the result is this project does not require wetlands permit or other environmental land use or water permit. If a wetlands permit or other environmental land use or water permit is required, the project would not qualify under the exemption for construction of major Highlands development and the determination would be null and void. No construction is to take place until these issues are resolved.

Applications Under Review

PB #6-06-8: Crystal Springs Builders, LLC—Preliminary Major Subdivision, Preliminary Major Site Plan, Conditional Use Site Plan & Planning Variance

The EC reviewed the application and agreed that the application requires the following:

  1. Delineate the Black Creek.
  2. Delineate the stream corridor buffers.
  3. Provide an LOI.
  4. Provide soil log data.
  5. Provide an environmental impact statement.

The EC agreed to schedule a site visit.

ZB #5-06-9: Tall Timbers Property Owners Association—Revised Plans for Preliminary & Final Site Plan, Stormwater Management Plan & Drainage Report

The EC agreed the application does not create significant environmental impact.

Planning Board Liaison Report

David Gornstein reported the NRI is on the planning board agenda for June 14, 2006.

Old Business

Stream Clearing

The EC cleared from the McPeak/Sandhill intersection to the Vernon Crossing.

Sussex County Planning Awards

Craig Williams advised the EC of a memorandum requesting nominations for the Sussex County Planning Awards.


There being no further items of business for the regular meeting, a motion was made by David Gornstein to adjourn the meeting; Gary Grey seconded the motion. The regular meeting of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.