Minutes: May 6, 2009

Call Meeting to Order

Mr. Williams called the meeting to order at 7:24 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 GornsteinP
Dan BoltzP
Craig Williams, ChairP
Allison PetrykP

Also Present

Cynthia Davis, Recording Secretary

Pledge of Allegiance

Open Meeting to the Public

Patrick DiStasi

Patrick DiStasi, a resident of the private road Silver Spruce Drive and the organizer of Glenwood ACT, came forward. Mr. DiStasi explained that on March 20, 2009, he received a notice advising him that a Land Use Board meeting, regarding the Verizon Wireless application to erect a cell tower on the property next to his, had been rescheduled. Mr. DiStasi advised that this was the first notice he ever received concerning this application. This area is zoned as R-2, and Mr. DiStasi is against putting a cell tower in a residential zone.

Mr. DiStasi feels that work has been done on the subject property since in 2000. He feels that there have been numerous violations connected to the work being performed and the work being proposed by Verizon’s application to the Land Use Board. Mr. DiStasi provided the EC members with satellite photos of the adjacent property showing the changes of the land from 2000 through 2007. The pictures showed that approximately 1200 feet of land had been cleared in an area hidden from the road. He believes this work has been performed without any variances or permits from the state, town or county. In the picture dated 2006, there are no driveways. He advised that there were 3 driveways installed in 2007. It appears to Mr. DiStasi that a plan has been in effect for many years. He presented a list of endangered species that may be present in the subject area. Mr. DiStasi commented that during the winter months there was ice across the road requiring the residents to park and walk to their homes. This did not occur before the subject land being cleared. The clearing of this land has also caused substantial washout problems, in his opinion.

Mr. DiStasi discussed the environmental issues such as the fact that approximately 75 trees were taken down and buried, the change of the topography and the steep slope issues. Mr. DiStasi stated that the DEP is requesting a site plan with gradients before 2004, and the permits for same, from the applicant.

Mr. Jeff Wagner

Mr. Jeff Wagner, a resident of 1703 County Route 565, came forward. He stated that, in his opinion, it looked like the pad for a tower has been in the making for quite some time. He feels that the tower will be visible from his home.

Mr. Williams explained he will research any adverse effect studies. He commented that the issues that may be in their favor, not necessarily from an environmental point, are the environmental issues from the DEP standpoint, deed restrictions from their lake community, road access and the fact that this is an R-2 zone. Mr. Williams stated that there should be an overriding public need for a cell tower to be placed in a residential zone.

Margaret DiStasi

Margaret DiStasi, a resident of Silver Spruce Road, came forward. She asked the commission members’ guidance on what recourse they may have to require the landowner to restore the environment to its original condition. Mr. Williams suggested that she contact the DEP regarding the Highlands Act. Mr. Gornstein advised her that if the application is approved by the Land Use Board, then the application will go to the Town Council and she would be able to comment at that level also. Ms. DiStasi advised that Verizon Wireless filed the application under the name of “Camp Glenwood” which is a name that she, nor her neighbors, would have recognized.

Ms. Jessi Paladini

Ms. Jessi Paladini came forward. She discussed her opinions on this application. She doesn’t understand how the township can receive a letter from the DEP on July 9, 2008, stating that this applicant received an exemption from Highlands regulations and stating that Verizon wants to erect a 140-180' cell tower and nobody from the town said or did anything? (She advised that there were no minutes from the EC on the website from February through November of 2008. She would like those minutes. Mr. Williams agreed that the EC did not have a recording secretary during those months.) It seems to Ms. Paladini that the only people who can’t build in the Highlands areas are the homeowners. Now, she commented, these homeowners have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to protect themselves from what government should have protected them from.

Mr. Williams advised her that it is still within the government’s power to protect these homeowners. It was discussed that the EC had reviewed this application at their April 1, 2009, meeting. Based upon what the EC was given at the time of their review, the EC advised the Land Use Board that they did not have any comment. Ms. Paladini commented that the EC had not had the chance to review the completed application and that this was against the MLUL.

Ms. Paladini advised that Mr. Kneip told her the applicant didn’t require any soil removal permits or soil erosion permits since less than 5,000 square feet had been disturbed. When she spoke with him yesterday, Mr. Kneip told her that after he visited the site, he found that 11,000 feet (pad area and access drive) had been disturbed. She provided the EC with Mr. Kneip’s report.

Mr. DiStasi gave the EC Glenwood ACT’s website address.

Closed Meeting to the Public

A brief discussion followed regarding the Verizon Wireless application.

The EC will make a site visit on May 9, 2009, which is a regularly scheduled site visit date, which was noticed.

Approval of Meeting Minutes

Mr. Gornstein made a motion to accept the minutes for the Environmental Commission (the “EC”) meeting of April 1, 2009. Ms. Downey seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Applications for Review

LUB #4-09-6: Laura Mineo Noto—Stream Buffer and Deck Variance

The Environmental Commission reviewed this application and had the following comments:

The property appears to be an environmentally sensitive area as it is surrounded by water.

The EC is extremely concerned with the lack of information provided to them for this application. They were provided only with a basic plan and a notice that an LOI had been sought. There were no soil logs, no soil information and no topographic information provided. (The Land Use Board was subsequently advised of the above comments by email dated May 7, 2009.)

Old Business

TLC—NJ Action

Mr. Williams advised that The Land Conservancy provided a synopsis of their activities for last month to the Town Council without copying the EC on their correspondence. He will communicate with them about this issue.

ERI Update

Mr. Williams advised that the ERI update will be done by the Highlands Commission. Mr. Gornstein advised that the first draft should be provided in late June or sometime this summer and then the EC may provide comments.

New Business

BIke Path Presentation to the Town Council (Vernon Greenway)

Mr. Williams advised that he walked the proposed bike path with GPS and took plots as he went along to be able to show the plausibility of an off-road bike path from Maple Grange Park to Sand Hill. He advised that most of the lands involved consist of commercial or farm land and there are wetlands that will require permitting from the DEP. Mr. Williams agreed and asked the members permission to make a presentation to the Town Council at their next meeting of May 14, 2009.

Mr. Beaver asked who would be liable if someone got hurt on a right of way. Mr. Williams advised that Vernon would be liable and would have liability insurance in place.

Cell Tower Health Effects

Mr. Williams suggested that the EC members do an internet search for “cell phone tower health” and read the various studies.

Gypsy Moth Treatment

Mr. Williams advised that the Town Council will move to authorize the treatment of approximately a couple hundred of acres within the township with BTK.

The next meeting of the Environmental Commission will be June 3, 2009, at 7:00 p.m.


Mr. Beaver made a motion and Ms. Petryk seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:16 p.m.

Transcribed by Cynthia Davis on May 17, 2009.

Minutes approved: June 3, 2009