Minutes: September 21, 2020
Call to order at 7:00 PM
Statement of Compliance was read by Diane Wexler.
Salute to the Flag.
Commissioners: Diane Wexler (Chair), Margaret DiStasi (Vice Chair), Craig Williams (liaison to Land Use Board), Michael Cheski, Catherina Sawoszczyk. All present.
Public: Jessi Paladini, Deborah Goletz, Sally Rinker, Simone Kraus, Beverly Budz.
Approval of August 18, 2020 minutes. Catherina Sawosczyk made the motion to accept, Peg DiStasi seconded the motion. Craig Williams abstained from voting due to leaving the meeting early. All in favor otherwise.
Diane Wexler discussed the change in agenda. The approval of minutes will be on top of the agenda, other business was removed and commissioner comments was added on the end.
Jessi Paladini asked permission to record the meeting, and it was okayed by Diane Wexler.
Simone Kraus wants to hear about “Fred Turner.”
Diane Wexler closed the meeting to the public.
Land Use Liaison: Craig Williams reported that the meeting will be this Wednesday and items include: Fred Turner and the Love of Mud. He will have more to report at next meeting.
Applications under Review
1. Frederick Turner, plan to construct a single family dwelling. The request was made a few years ago with many extensions. Would need extensive excavating because of the steep slope of driveway. This is less than one acre and should be a 5 acre minimum. There are set back issues, soil conservation issues, fill needed. Architect drawings are not submitted. It was suggested that Craig Williams needs to spend more time in reviewing; we all need to have a copy of plan and a Zoom meeting does not accommodate referring to a general map that all can see.
2. Love of Mud, response from the applicant is very positive. The owner sent in a copy of MSDS from Ceramic Supply Company. Materials have OSHA danger, hazardous in dry form/cancer causing.
3. Farm 94,LLC, site plans for farm are not enough detail for sanitation in the “glam campsites.”
Michael Cheski stated that with composting he has tried to contact Lester Myers, who offered to help, he has called at least six times and left numerous messages and e-mail. He has not heard from him. He will try to contact Oakland Compost.
Resolution 20-01, Margaret DiStasi stated that Harry Shortway was supposed to put it on the agenda but never did. Also the NRI bidding.
Michael Cheski stated they would take a vote this week (September 24) and he will send it out.
Polinator Gardens: Michael Cheski stated it was a matching grant of $1500. He has the plan and will check to see if they are doing it next year. Margaret Distasi mentioned Barrett Road or Maple Grange.
Natural Resource Inventory, Craig Williams mentioned a wetland buffer. Craig Williams said he would deal with this tomorrow and asked for it to be on the next agenda.
Three Silver Spruce, Margaret DiStasi said that it is in court two weeks ago, pending the judge’s decision on receivership/foreclosure. The appointed receiver is a retired judge. In January they completed an inventory of said property and found some things missing. Now they are trying to evict from the house.
Solar Panels, Margaret DiStasi commented that the mayor has more important things going on right now and is too busy to address this issue. Craig Williams stated that by expanding to power co-op it could save residents money.
DPW Yard/Black Creek Test results, we are exceeding thresholds. Sixteen samples taken four are problematic. The area where the samples were found, the soil needs to be removed to another area that could deal with the pollutants. Margaret DiStasi said that deeper testing is needed to determine where the soil goes. It is a very expensive process. Craig Williams wanted to know how deep it goes, how much will it cost. Margaret DiStasi stated it was $30,000 more to test it. She wants to know what the council will do now. Diane Wexler will talk to the mayor.
Love of Mud meeting is on Wednesday. Craig Williams read statement. Margaret DiStasi said that the township does not have the ability to be a watchdog in this. Deborah Goletz said she uses wet clay and it has no respiratory issues. She stated she has 30 years experience, a master’s degree and has talked to all neighbors within a 200 foot area of her home. Margaret DiStasi stated it sets a precedent for having a commercial enterprise in a residential area. Craig Williams stated that falls to land use board, it is not an EC concern. She asked if there were any odors from the kiln. Deborah Goletz stated that the kiln is from British Columbia and their report states “no emissions of any significance” She also stated that the clay was natural and there is no odor. Margaret DiStasi asked about when the kiln was run, during classes? Deborah Goletz stated that the kiln was not running during classes or when students are present. The kiln has a HEPA filter with vents to the outside. Margaret DiStasi asked that the tests were run by an independent lab and tested by professionals. Deborah Goletz stated it was a hobby kiln for inside use. Someday she would like to get outside. She has two classes per week. The name of the kiln is L & L Kilns. Diane Wexler stated that Craig Williams will bring up issues at the land use board.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline: Margaret DiStasi attended the Highlands Council meeting and mentioned the Highlands Council will be looking into the application from the pipeline for the compressor station expansions in Wantage and West Milford.
Diane Wexler stated that there are 2 issues concerning Tennessee Gas:
1. The letter Vernon received about pipeline maintenance.
2. The application to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) about compressor station expansion projects.
Craig Williams stated we need to find out what does maintenance mean? Craig Williams asked what is the current issue with pipe line pressure testing. Diane Wexler said we are bombarded by compression stations. She wants more specifics on maintenance. Catherina Sawoszcyk read the proposed ideas of the pipeline and wanted to know who wrote this. Also, who is the project manager?
Diane Wexler said we need to write a letter to ask for details. Michael Cheski asked “Is anyone from our township overseeing this?”
Craig Williams mentioned the Sierra Club. Craig also mentioned that fracking is easy money overall but the future of fracking is growing weaker over time. Diane Wexler said that ConEd wants the gas and it now runs from Texas though PA, NJ and Mass. A very long pipeline.
Simon Kraus on the Fred Turner septic application, that it was denied in 2005 and 2010, 2006 and 2007 rejected. Craig Williams mentioned a 35 foot setback that the print does not show. Diane Wexler stated that the septic is a concern for the Sussex County Health Department. Simon Kraus said that the real estate is advertising that it has an approved septic and it doesn’t. He stated that the volume of water that comes off the mountain is incredible.
Jessi Paladini commented on Diane Wexler having an excellent meeting.
Her concerns about the illegal transfer station and town dump, the solid waste were brought up. She stated that 4 out of 16 piles of street sweepings were contaminated but we need deep soil borings, these pilings were street sweepings from all over town. It cost $30,000 to test 4 piles only. They (Vernon) spent $15,000 on inrelevent piles. This is for putting a bicycle pump track in a toxic dump.
It was discussed that the DPW bulldozed over the edge to the wetlands. Now there is garbage in the wetlands. All garbage that DPW puts down has to be removed within 6 months. The A&P debris is still there after 20 years. There are songbirds in the area; maybe the Audubon Society should be notified. Jessi Paladini stated that Craig Williams keeps shutting down Margaret DiStasi’s comments.
Jessi Paladini stated that she is so sorry that the former chairperson accused Margaret DiStasi, Jessi Paladini and Mike Cheski of bashing volunteers. We are all volunteers. Here for the good of Vernon.
Sally Rinker asked to please pay attention to open space funds. Please monitor where these funds are coming from. Pump track money spent how and where?
State wetlands are on DPW property...where is the buffer? What about the endangered species?
Margaret DiStasi discussed the spotted lanternfly that is a very invasive bug and Mike Cheski stated it is attracted to the “Trees of Heaven” Mike Cheski stated that he has seen numerous “Heaven” trees in Maple Grange Park and on school properties. He suggests we let DPW know that these need to be cut down and destroyed.
Catherina Sawoszczyk discussed the storm water regulation
Diane Wexler said we are still doing seminars on this and will send link.
Motion to close the meeting was made by Craig Williams and seconded by Mike Cheski. Meeting ended at 8:45 PM
Respectfully submitted by Debbie Coulson