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

Minutes: March 1, 2010

Call Meeting to Order

Dennis Miranda called the meeting to order at 7:36 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
Michael FurreyP
David GornsteinA
Dan BoltzP
Allison PetrykP
Barrie BeaverA

Also Present

Jessica Paladini, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

Open Meeting to the Public

Dennis Miranda opened the meeting to the public. Resident Harry Labance said after reading several articles in the newspapers, he was very impressed with the potential Scenic Byway designation for Routes 515 and 94 and the Environmental Commission’s efforts. Dennis Miranda said the Vernon Township Council and the Hardyston and Sussex County governments must first approve the proposed Scenic Byway designation before the Environmental Commission can file an application with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Closed Meeting to the Public at 7:43 p.m.

Open Space

The commission discussed the criteria for assessing and prioritizing open space parcels for consideration. They discussed the Randolph Township and Boonton open space models. Dennis Miranda said he has asked ANJEC for the best open space model/criteria it has.

The commission discussed watersheds in the township and the township’s sole source aquifer. Dennis Miranda spoke of his concerns about the township’s water source, the availability of water, and the aquifer’s recharge areas. Michael Furrey suggested each commission member offer comments and he will summarize the concerns and priorities and put together a document. Dennis Miranda said it should include the Wallkill, Pequannock and Black Creek watersheds and said Vernon should also model its open space plan on the Rockaway model. The commission members agreed Rockaway’s plan was the most comprehensive.

Dennis Miranda noted that Deputy Manager Brian Palaia said there were 341 foreclosure properties in the township, which is more than anywhere else in the county. He spoke of a 150-acre parcel the town could acquire. The subject will be discussed at the March 15 meeting of the commission. The commission tabled the review of the foreclosed properties until the next meeting because the town has not provided the lots and blocks for the parcels.

Earthfest

The commission discussed the progress of Earthfest. ANJEC will not be attending, nor will the Trust for Public Lands. The Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and The Land conservancy will participate in Earthfest. Allison Petryk will contact the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority to see if they will participate. On Saturday evening, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. will be Owl Prowl at the refuge. On Sunday, there will be a hike at Dagmar Dale Trail at 10:30 a.m. and a tour of the Appalachian Trail at 1:30 p.m. Dennis Miranda suggested taking the press out for one of the hikes prior to the event to generate publicity. The Environmental Commission can do something with recycling for Earthfest, as well as to run the Scenic Byway presentation on a laptop throughout the day. Dan Boltz and Allison Petryk will create a pamphlet for Earthfest.

Environmental Commission Minutes

The commission reviewed the minutes of the February 22, 2010 meeting. Dan Boltz moved to accept the minutes. Allison Petryk seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Natural Resource Inventory

Dennis Miranda discussed the commission doing a natural resource inventory. Although there is no money in the budget to do the inventory, the commission could apply for grants. Dennis Miranda said the commission might be able to get a $10,000 ANJEC grant, and the Vernon Township Historical Society, as a non-profit organization, could apply for an additional grant for the inventory.

Scenic Byway

After a PowerPoint presentation by Dennis Miranda on scenic byways, the commission voted on a resolution to pursue Scenic Byway designation for Route 515, starting from Route 23, to Route 94 to the Warwick, N.Y. border.

Allison Petryk moved to adopt the resolution; Michael Furrey seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Appalachian Trail

Dennis Miranda talked about the unwitting degradation of the Appalachian Trail by the people who are maintaining it. He gave as an example that the vegetation is being clear-cut and weed whacked without sensitivity. He suggested the commission adopt a resolution to protect the trail. Michael Furrey said the resolution should specify the commission’s concern but not contain any language that the commission will enforce the proper maintenance of the trail. Dennis Miranda said, “The system is broken. What has happened here is a travesty.” Further discussion centered on the commission not taking on the role of enforcement. All commission members agreed.

Dan Boltz moved to adopt the resolution; Allison Petryk seconded the motion.

Roll call vote: Daniel Boltz, yes; Michael Furrey, yes; Allison Petryk, yes; Dennis Miranda, yes.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Since Dave Gornstein was not present at the meeting, there was no report.

There being no further business, the commission adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

Jessica S. Paladini, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: March 15, 2010