Minutes: September 11, 2012

Call Meeting to Order

Craig Williams, Environmental Commission (EC) Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:05 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 June 12, 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-CarterA
Michael CheskiP
Helena HolmesP
Heloise RuskinP
Diane WexlerP
Craig Williams, ChairmanP

Also Present

Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Jessica Caldwell, Town Planner

Public Comments

Jessie Paladini—stated that she was disturbed upon reading in the newspaper that the EC went up to the sites of the absorbent pillows to assist Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) in locating them. Ms. Paladini questioned how such a decision was made to put EC members in harms way in addition to assisting TGP locate the pillows, thereby destroying evidence. Mr. Williams took responsibility for making the decision to help TGP locate the pillows. Ms. Paladini stated that by law the NJDEP must be involved in any clean-up operations. Ms. Budz advised that she kept four sample jars for evidence. Ms. Ruskin stated that the NJDEP must get involved in testing of soil and that there should still be remnants after the removal was done by TGP. Ms. Paladini stated that the proper legal process was not followed.

Ms. Ruskin stated that the EC needed to move forward toward cleanup. Ms. Ruskin questioned the process that caused this contamination and if the contamination would continue to form. Ms. Ruskin further stated that there needed to be a conclusion.

Sally Rinker—stated that she felt the EC needed help and asked what could be done to help them. Ms. Rinker suggested that the EC request reimbursement, stating that this issue of possible contamination is a huge area of concern for Vernon residents.

Doreen Edwards—stated that a year ago there was a problem with the water in her home and explained that she went to an EC meeting asking what she could do about her water situation. Ms. Edwards explained that an EC Member, at that time, offered his assistance in testing her water. She felt this was a conflict of interest considering that the member owned a water testing company and also did water testing for TGP as well as the township. Ms. Paladini stated that she was the EC chair at the time of this incident.

Ms. Edwards questioned why the EC didn’t ask for help and why the EC didn’t ask TGP for testing when the pillows were located.

Township Councilman Kadish—advised that senators should be contacted in an effort to move forward. Councilman Kadish advised the EC to prepare a budget for the necessary testing so the substance could be analyzed for true contamination.

Ms. Budz showed a sample of the substance to the attendees of the meeting.

Gary Adamkovich—stated that there were tar balls coming up out of the ground over the span of a mile from the other side of Canistear Rd. to West Milford. Ms. Wexler advised that the flash point of these tar balls was very low.

Ms. Ruskin spoke of the requirements of NJDEP to monitor the TGP project. Ms. Ruskin called for township council involvement.

Doreen Edwards—stated that she was having trouble finding someone to test her water. Mr. Williams advised she call the health department or to check the NJDEP website for certified testers for VOCs. Ms. Edwards questioned if she could be reimbursed by the township for the cost of testing.

Robert Oliver—suggested contacting the Newark Watershed to have testing done.

Ms. Caldwell suggested contacting the Highlands Council.

Ms. Budz advised that she would contact the EPA.

It was suggested that an EC special meeting be scheduled to discuss the possible contamination matter further.

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

Land Use Board Liaison Report

There was no report.

Meeting Minutes for Approval

Meeting minutes from August 21, 2012 were approved with an all in favor vote.

Applications for Review

There were no applications.

Old Business

Bike Path

Mr. Williams advised that he met with the mayor regarding a right-of-way for the bike path and was told that there were no funds for the bike project. It was noted that funding would need to come from grant money. Ms. Caldwell stated that she would watch out for any grant availability.

Highlands Environmental Resource Inventory

Mr. Williams questioned the difference between the Highlands Resource Inventory and Vernon’s Resource Inventory. Ms. Caldwell explained that there was no development in the planning area, only redevelopment, and that Vernon’s Resource Inventory had more detailed information.

Motion to adopt Resolution #12-01 Highland Environmental Resource Inventory
Moved: Heloise Ruskin
Second: Diane Wexler

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Budz, Cheski, Holmes, Ruskin, Wexler, Williams
Nays: None
Resolution #12-01 was approved.

Camp Sussex

Mr. Williams suggested mixed use development using the gym, theater and crafts room for Camp Sussex. Mr. Williams further suggested that the balance of developable land be used for senior housing. It was noted that this vision would not be able to make use of the open space fund. Ms. Budz questioned making a presentation with Mr. Williams ideas to the town council. It was noted that the Land Conservancy would not be available to help the EC for another month.

Protecting Well Heads

Careful development in certain areas to protect well heads was discussed. Ms. Ruskin suggested certain types of buildings and businesses not be allowed in the overlay zone such as businesses that use proven toxic substances, in an effort to protect the aquifer. Other suggestions included not allowing existing businesses to expand, in this zone, as well as conducting inspections to monitor compliance with NJDEP regulations. It was suggested to present such a plan to the Land Use Board (LUB).

Motion to hold EC special meeting for further review of possible toxic substances found in the TGP project and surrounding areas.
Moved: Craig Williams
Second: Mike Cheski
All were in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Aida Cahill, Recording Secretary
Minutes approved: October 9, 2012