Minutes: May 14, 2013
Acting Chairperson Beverly Budz called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Statement of Compliance
Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this regular meeting has been provided to the public and the press on December 13, 2012 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
|Beverly Budz, Acting Chairperson||P|
|Michael Cheski, Recording Secretary||A|
|Diane Wexler, Land Use Board Liaison||P|
Meeting Opened to the Public
Frank Elmuccio from the New Jersey Watershed Ambassador’s Program came forward. He works with the Lafayette office of watershed management. He offered his services to the commission if it so desires.
Meeting Closed to the Public
Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler reported that the Land Use Board approved a resolution for an extension for Crystal Springs. She said Crystal Springs also had applied for and received an extension on a variance for solar panels and buffers. She said there have not been any applications before the Land Use Board recently.
Applications under Review
There were no applications to review.
Beverly Budz said the commission is signed up for ANJEC membership. She gave the commissioners ANJEC’s website address so they can get their newsletters online.
DEP Grant to Vernon Township
Beverly Budz completed the application and the required documents for the $30,000 DEP reforestation grant. She submitted the grant to the DEP. Trees would be planted at the Black Creek Site, Maple Grange Park, the six township schools, the recycling center, the municipal building, and the library. The DPW will be planting the dogwoods, cherry blossoms, white birch, dwarf maples, weeping cherry, and a couple of other species, for a total of 102 trees that are eight-feet high. She has not had any requests for revisions from the DEP, which indicates the grant is on its way for approval and processing by the DEP. She anticipates the town might also get another DEP grant in the future. Traci Baldwin-Carter questioned why the Environmental Commission wasn’t more involved with the DEP grant. Beverly Budz said the town had hired a grant writer to write the grant and it was not an Environmental Commission project but rather a town grant.
Beverly Budz announced she received a new mitigation plan from Tetra Tech in California, which was hired by TGP. This is something TGP is required to do because they did not replant the 300 line properly. The DEP fined TGP $175,000 for failure to adequate replant the area, including the West Milford and Hamburg Mountain areas.
Heloise Ruskin praised the DEP for recognizing that TGP did not adequately reforest the areas, but she said the thing that has not been addressed is any potential chemical pollution from the company. The DEP has not been forthcoming with that, she said.
Earthfest was a great success for the Environmental Commission. Ms. Budz said. Many adults and children visited the EC table, took a tree seedling to plant, and learned about environmental concerns.
Response from TGP Regarding EC Questions
Beverly Budz announced that she received a letter from TGP in response to the questions the Environmental Commission had asked them. She said the response is about 40 pages long. Her biggest concern is that throughout the letter, when addressing certain chemicals used at its Vernon sites, TGP states, “Caution, may cause cancer.” What TGP is referring to are the pillows, Budz said. Budz said former Environmental Commission chairman Craig Williams, in numerous e-mails to the commission members, recommended that the EC members find the location of the pillows and flag them. He asked Beverly Budz and Diane Wexler to mark the locations of the pillows so TGP could remove them. On August 30, 2012, Williams wrote in an e-mail to the commission members, “So that we know what these things [pillows] are, I’ve attached the product’s MSDS. I’ve picked up 20 yards of 1-inch wide hot pink ribbon. To get these gone, we will do what is necessary.” Heloise Ruskin said she felt it was wrong for the company to ask the commission members to flag the locations. The company should not have asked any private citizens to go out to mark the locations or remove the pillows, said Ruskin. Beverly Budz said she will make the TGP report available to all commission members to read.
Three-Minute Idle Law
Beverly Budz suggested the Environmental Commission start a project to raise awareness in the community for the Three-Minute Idle Law. It is illegal to allow a vehicle to idle for more than three minutes when it is parked, she said. Doing so causes the emission of extensive amounts of exhaust from vehicles and is dangerous to the environment. She said starting such a campaign in the community would be a positive thing.
The commission feels it is important to support Warwick, NY’s opposition to fracking and wants to adopt a resolution of its own. They will continue to research this and work on it at the next meeting.
Commission Comments and Concerns
Beverly Budz discussed beekeepers that have their hives too close to Route 94, stating emissions from cars could affect the bees and the quality of the honey as well as the vehicles being a liability to the hives in the event of accidents. The hives should be further back on the property and off the roadway, she said. She also said there are a number of black bears in that area and having the bears go that close to the road in pursuit of the honey poses a risk for them. She suggested the commission find out the owners of the bees and perhaps recommend moving them farther away from the road.
Black Creek Site
Beverly Budz announced the Black Creek site visits began today for local school students and through the rest of the week. She encouraged the commission members to visit the site to take the tour and/or work with the children during one of the time slots. She will walk with the archaeologist at the site to identify native and invasive plant species for the Black Creek site. She said she would volunteer to get rid of some of the invasive plants at the site.
Approval of Minutes
April 9, 2013
Diane Wexler moved to approve the April 9, 2013 minutes of the commission. Heloise Ruskin seconded the motion.
Roll Call Vote—Traci Baldwin-Carter, yes; Helena Holmes, yes; Heloise Ruskin, yes; Diane Wexler, yes; Beverly Budz, yes
Diane Wexler moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:27 p.m. Traci Baldwin-Carter seconded. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the Vernon Township Environmental Commission will be on June 11, 2013.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted by the commission on June 11, 2013