Minutes: May 8, 2012

Call Meeting to Order

Craig Williams, Environmental Commission (EC) Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.

Statement of Compliance

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 facsimiled and mailed from the Vernon Municipal Center to the New Jersey Herald on January 6, 2012. Notice is also posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Salute to Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Craig Williams.

Roll Call

Beverly BudzP
Traci Baldwin-CarterP
Michael CheskiP
Helena HolmesA
Heloise RuskinP
Diane WexlerP
Craig Williams, ChairmanP

Also Present

Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary

Public Comments

Jeanne Jameson, Highland Lakes President, spoke regarding an organization called the North Jersey Pipeline Walkers (NJPW) and their claims of contamination in Highland Lakes due to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) activity in that area. Ms. Jameson expressed outrage that this organization would post such assumptions on their Facebook page without any proof to backup their claims, thereby alarming the residents of this private community. Ms. Jameson stated that the Pipeline Walkers offered no factual information, only unfounded assumptions that booms seen on the lake were to contain contaminants, when the factual explanation for the presence of the booms was that they were part of a filtration system to prevent nutrients and sediment entering the lake. Ms. Jameson questioned if any members of the EC were also members of the NJ Pipeline Walkers. It was noted by Ms. Budz that there were EC members on the North Jersey Pipeline Walkers, but that it was a separate entity. Ms. Jameson requested a full retraction of the accusations of any lake contamination.

Jack McLaughlin, Highland Lakes General Manager, advised that the Pipeline Walkers had no authority, as Highland Lakes is a private community with private roads. He then read a text from a resident who had been approached by representatives of the NJPW and told that the blue pillows were placed in the streams by TGP because the pipeline was not installed properly, and that there was petroleum and benzene leaking into the lake. The resident was told that the blue pillows and yellow boom were supposed to catch all of the toxins until the danger had passed. Ms. Budz stated that Mr. King from the NJDEP called her home to ask if she knew who installed the booms and pillows and that no permits were granted or sought. Ms. Budz questioned Mr. McLaughlin if permits were needed and he stated that no one mentioned he needed permits. Mr. McLaughlin then addressed the chairman and stated that the EC had no credibility when its members were affiliated with groups making claims such as these. Mr. McLaughlin went on to explain that the equipment seen on the lake was installed on recommendation from Highland Lake’s environmental consultant Princeton Hydro, a well respected environmental consulting firm. Due to the heavy rains last August and Tropical Storm Lee in September, the environmental controls installed by TGP were insufficient to keep sediment from migrating from their workspace. It was noted that 10 monitoring stations were set up in the lake to monitor suspended solids, NTUs, etc. The sediment boom was deployed last fall, removed when ice started to form and reinstalled this spring. It was noted that all of the work was done at TGP’s expense, including the ongoing monitoring that was currently taking place. Mr. McLaughlin concluded his remarks by stating that the equipment being used in the lake was designed to trap sediment and any representations otherwise were fundamentally ignorant.

Jessie Paladini, resident, stated that she had been driving by Highland Lakes and noted absorbent booms. Ms. Paladini questioned if there were test results proving there was no contamination, and suggested that the EC and Highland Lakes perform water testing.

There were no further comments from public and the public portion of the meeting was closed.

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Subdivision Approval for Toye Recreation Area

Approval of Minutes

Motion to approve meeting minutes from February 14, 2012.
Moved: Heloise Ruskin
Second: Craig Williams
All were in favor.

Applications Under Review

LU# 4-12-8 Angelo Grammatica, a Minor Site Plan for Parking

This was noted to be part of the sewer service area. No environmental impact was noted.

PB# 2-91-4 Mountain Creek Resort, Inc. a Water Park Master Plan Update Regarding Construction of the Urgent Care Facility

No environmental impact was noted.

LU# 2-11-1 Jesse Moore Requesting an Extension of Time for a Detached Garage

No environmental impact was noted.

Old Business

Camp Sussex

Mr. Williams reported that he and Mr. Cheski walked and took pictures at Camp Sussex. It was determined that some buildings could provide some usefulness to the township. There was overall deterioration of the camp. It was noted that if the EC were to buy Camp Sussex for open space, it would use up all of the EC monetary resources.

Bike Path

Mr. Williams showed photos from his computer of a possible bike path from the New York state line to Hardyston. There was discussion regarding acquiring easements to complete this project. It was noted that the bike path would cross roads in some areas. Mr. Williams suggested presenting a proposal to the Land Conservancy to move the project forward. Mr. Cheski suggested finding out how the existing bike path benefits the towns from Chester to Goshen.


It was reported that TGP had begun planting in the pipeline areas that had been disturbed. The lab certified test results were discussed and Mr. Williams reported that he was told the lab results had never been revised. A list of chemicals noted on the report were reviewed and determined not to be indigenous to the area. Mr. Cheski noted that the chemicals listed could not just be attributed to TGP because there were other environmental impacts. Further soil and water testing was suggested to be done upstream from where testing was originally performed. Ms. Budz noted for the record that this is something the EC is responsible for, as per the EC bylaws. Mr. Williams advised that he would see the mayor regarding further testing in order to close the chapter on this subject.


Food and Water Watch has an informative website instructing concerned citizens how to have the town council pass an ordinance turning down fracking. Ms. Wexler suggested doing a presentation to the town council. She believes that the pipeline is to carry fracked gas.

Ms. Budz read a statement regarding the responsibilities of the EC.

Ms. Baldwin-Carter requested that the record reflect that Jack McLaughlin was talking to Ms. Budz regarding the NJPW and should not have been done at the EC meeting because it has nothing to do with the EC.


There was a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:15 p.m. made by Diane Wexler, second by Mike Cheski with all members voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: June 12, 2012