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

Minutes: September 10, 2013

Chairperson Beverly Budz called the meeting to order at 7 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

Roll Call

Beverly BudzP
Michael CheskiP
Traci Baldwin-CarterP
Heloise RuskinP
Diane WexlerP

Also Present

Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary

Special Presentation

Angi Metler from the B.E.A.R. group spoke to the environmental commission about a statue of a bear that artist Gary Adamkovich of Highland Lakes will sculpt and donate to the township for placement in front of the municipal center. Ms. Metler said the black bear symbolizes the Highlands and the bear is also part of the Vernon police patches. The statue will also symbolize the great diversity of wildlife in the township. Ms. Metler asked for the environmental commission’s endorsement to place the sculpture.

Heloise Ruskin said she feels the bear statue in front of the municipal center will be a wonderful thing for the township.

Motion to endorse the project: Beverly Budz
Second: Diane Wexler
Ayes: Heloise Ruskin, Diane Wexler, Michael Cheski, Beverly Budz
Nays: Traci Baldwin-Carter

Meeting Opened to the Public

No one came forward.

Meeting Closed to the Public

Land Use Board Liaison Report

Diane Wexler reported that the last meeting was canceled, so there is no report.

Applications under Review

The commission reviewed two applications: Mark and Susanne Buruchian, use variance for the construction of a deck; and Joseph Rogers, seeking permission to have three accessory structures on his property. The commissioners had no environmental concerns or comments to forward to the Land Use Board about either of the applications.

Old Business

Three-Minute Idle Law

The commissioners reviewed the state’s Three-Minute Idle Law and discussed adopting a resolution to ask the township council to adopt a resolution or ordinance that encourages more enforcement of the Three-Minute Idle Law. They discussed putting signs up at Maple Grange Park for a start. The commissioners agreed that more enforcement would bring down the level of carbon in the environment and be better for the town. Beverly Budz said they could go to the township council as a “courtesy reminder” and also ask them to initiate a campaign of awareness for the Three-Minute Idle Law. They discussed putting signs at Maple Grange Park and other township-owned properties. Michael Cheski suggested they try to get Mountain Creek to go along with the awareness campaign and put up signs in their parking lots.

The commissioners agreed to write a resolution to forward to the township council. Michael Cheski stated he has seen school buses idling for more than three minutes at schools and during special trips. Traci Baldwin-Carter said school bus drivers are told about the idle law each year, and it is also specified in the school bus drivers’ annual manuals as well. Diane Wexler noted that diesel vehicles do not need more than three minutes to idle. Traci Baldwin-Carter said that’s what the state says but it is not what mechanics say. She said they need 5-10 minutes to idle. She said the law is not right. The commissioners suggested moving to adopt a resolution to enforce the idle laws.

Heloise Ruskin said she would “like to put more teeth” into the resolution. She said people need to be made aware the idle laws are a legal issue and they will be enforced. She said it is a traffic law just like any other traffic law and needs to be obeyed. Traci Baldwin-Carter read that no penalty may be assessed to the driver of a school bus who is not the owner and added basically drivers can idle because they’re not going to be the ones to get the penalty.

Chairperson Beverly Budz suggested a letter be sent to all the school bus companies as a courtesy reminder. Traci Baldwin-Carter said the bus drivers have no control over it. Diane Wexler reminded that it’s the law. Ms. Baldwin-Carter reminded that jaywalking is against the law as well and so is everything, but what can they do?

Ms. Budz moved to draft a resolution; Michael Cheski seconded the motion. Mr. Cheski suggested they put up signage at Mountain Creek as well. Ms. Budz suggested sending a letter to Andy Mulvihill to let him know about the awareness campaign and perhaps voluntarily put up signs on his resort properties. Traci Baldwin-Carter suggested that if the commission is sending letters to school bus companies, it should also send them to the board of education because there are also a lot of outside bus companies and vans that come into the township. She said there are many and the BOE would know who to send the letter to.

Motion: Beverly Budz
Second: Michael Cheski
Ayes: Heloise Ruskin, Diane Wexler, Michael Cheski, Traci Baldwin-Carter, Beverly Budz
Nays: None

Tennessee Pipeline

Beverly Budz discussed a day for a site visit. The site visit will include investigation of the impact of the pipeline on threatened and endangered plant species. Diane Wexler discussed the Pine Barrens group that contacted her, asking for advice concerning pipeline work that will go through the Pinelands in South Jersey. She said the Highlands Coalition recommended the Pine Barrens contact North Jersey Pipeline Walkers. Ms. Wexler sent them photographs and gave them the link to various websites. She said they might come to Vernon for a site visit. A date for a site visit by the commission was discussed, but none was selected. Beverly Budz will suggest some dates and get back to the others.

New Business

Tree Planting

All the trees have come in at Heaven Hill Farm, and the township DPW will be planting them during the week of September 16 and early October. Beverly Budz said as soon as she gets the dates for planting, she will notify the commissioners, who can participate if they choose. Six dogwood trees will be planted at the schools.

Discussion of Shale Gas Deposits in New Jersey

The USGS map shows shale deposits across the eastern portion of the country and New Jersey is mostly covered, said Diane Wexler. She said this is something to be concerned about because there is fracking in New Jersey’s future. She said it is important to discuss with the township council the creation of an ordinance to ban heavy industry in the municipality. Ms. Wexler and the other commissioners agree they should get the help of an attorney to write a resolution to present to the governing body. She will prepare something for the commission’s consideration at the next meeting. Heloise Ruskin suggested they write a resolution to present to the township council to establish an ordinance banning heavy industry in the township, including fracking for natural gas and the storage of detrimental brine and chemicals associated with fracking. Diane Wexler will write the resolution upon advice of an attorney. Traci Baldwin-Carter suggested adding the language “to avoid negative impact to the environment.”

Motion by Heloise Ruskin: To authorize commission Vice Chairman Diane Wexler to write a resolution banning heavy industry in the Township of Vernon, including fracking for natural gas and the storage and disbursement of detrimental brine and/or chemicals associated with fracking. Said resolution is to be presented at the next environmental commission meeting for a vote and recommendation to the township council.

Second: Michael Cheski

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Heloise Ruskin, Diane Wexler, Michael Cheski, Traci Baldwin-Carter, Beverly Budz
Nays: None

Commission Concerns and Comments

Recycling Enforcement

Traci Baldwin-Carter said she wants to see better enforcement of recycling. She feels that many people are putting their recyclables in with their household garbage and not recycling. She also feels the landfill should be better enforcing recycling when the garbage is taken to the landfill. The commissioners discussed the possibility of having a township-wide garbage pickup program and curbside recycling. Heloise Ruskin suggested the environmental commission recommend to the township council to research such a township-wide garbage pickup and curbside recycling program. Michael Cheski also suggested having recycling education in township schools because he sees a lack of recycling in the schools.

Motion by Heloise Ruskin: To recommend to the township council that the town study the feasibility of instituting township-wide garbage pickup and curbside recycling in an effort to promote better enforcement of the recycling laws.

Second: Traci Baldwin-Carter
Ayes: Heloise Ruskin, Diane Wexler, Michael Cheski, Traci Baldwin-Carter, Beverly Budz
Nays: None

ANJEC 40th Environmental Congress

Michael Cheski brought up the upcoming ANJEC Environmental Congress. He said he went last year, and he suggested other commissioners might want to go this year. The speaker this year is former Governor Thomas Kean, and it is held at Middlesex College in Edison. He said it is a good opportunity to learn from environmental workshops and also meet other environmental commissioners from throughout the state and learn about what they are doing in their communities. Chairperson Budz said if any of the commissioners want to attend, she will request the funding from the mayor.

Michael Cheski also discussed an article he had about bike paths and their positive impacts. He said they are very popular around the country. It was again stated that the mayor told the environmental commission chairperson that he would support the bike path if the commission raised the funds for it. Michael Cheski will research whether there is any grant funding available for bike paths.

Approval of Minutes

August 13, 2013 Regular Minutes

Motion to Approve: Beverly Budz
Second: Diane Wexler
Ayes: Heloise Ruskin, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
Nays: None

Motion to Adjourn

Heloise Ruskin moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:58 p.m. Diane Wexler seconded. All in favor.

The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on October 8 10, 2013.

Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Recording Secretary
Adopted by the commission on October 8, 2013