Minutes: June 4, 2015

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, had been forwarded to the New Jersey Herald on January 15, 2015. Notice is also posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Roll Call of Members

Nancy AdamP
Charles BatesP
Dee FranklinP
Michael FurreyP
Christopher HankeA
Ted LaabsP
Lisaann PermunianP
Laura PettinatoP
Valerie SeufertP

Charles Bates called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m.

1. Open the Meeting to the Public

Charles Bates opened the meeting to the public and kept it open throughout the duration of the meeting.

2. Approval of Minutes

May 7, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes

Valerie Seufert moved to adopt the minutes as written. Ted Laabs seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Ayes: Charles Bates, Ilene Franklin, Ted Laabs, Lisaann Permunian, Laura Pettinato, and Valerie Seufert
Nays: None
Abstain: Nancy Adam and Michael Furrey, who were not in attendance at the May meeting

3. Old Business

A. Walker Farm Landmark Designation

Charles Bates and Jessi Paladini will meet with Liz Walker to discuss the landmark designation of her farm. Ron Dupont has created the history of the farm. Charles Bates will get it from Ron Dupont. The application for landmark nomination has not yet been filled out, Charles said.

B. Glenwood Presentation

Charles Bates had asked Michael Furrey to set up a meeting with the mayor to discuss the Glenwood Historic Area presentation. Michael Furrey contacted the mayor, but the mayor has not gotten back to him with any questions or concerns about the presentation. Michael Furrey will again contact the mayor. The commission reviewed the latest draft of the presentation that Michael Furrey revised. The presentation had been sent to the mayor on May 14. Charles Bates said the emphasis of the presentation should be on what the Glenwood community is today and its historic value. The presentation to the community will be about 20-30 minutes. Charles will do the introduction. After the presentation, the community can ask questions. The entire event should not go beyond an hour, Charles Bates said. The commission will discuss what might be some of the peoples’ concerns about the historical area so they can be prepared with responses for the community. Michael Furrey will do a final revision, adding any input from the mayor. Charles Bates and Michael Furrey will meet in July to review and discuss the final revision. The presentation will likely be in October.

4. New Business

A. Pochuck Mine

Elaine Rettig, manager of the Pleasant Valley Lake community, attended the meeting to give information about and discuss the Pochuck Mine. She brought with her a number of maps and documents that provide information on the Pochuck Mine. She said Joseph and Mario Riccabono own the property. In early May, they started to bulldoze the property again. They have a plan to build two homes on the property. Their site plans are expired, she said, and they need to renew them. There are possibly a few mines on the property that range from 60-120 feet. She is not sure if the Riccabonos are aware of the mines. There is an area there that often floods, and there is concern about the impact of this flood to the lake. The owners have gotten extensions for construction, but the extension might have expired and a new site plan must be submitted. The excavation has stopped, Ms. Rettig said. The DEP has given permission to build on the property, she said. Soil Conservation has inspected the property. The community is concerned siltation will go into the lake. Ms. Rettig said the site disturbance is less than one acre. Commissioner Michael Furrey suggested the lake community contact DEP enforcement. Ms. Rettig said the Pleasant Valley Lake community is not certain of the historic value of the property and that’s why they have come to the historic preservation commission.

Commission member Ted Laabs said the mine holes, the depth of the holes, and what was mined there make it a historic mining site. He said he believes the site is a significant mining site that iron ore and the mineral hematite came from. Ms. Rettig cited an article written by Ron Dupont entitled “The Great Forgotten Pochuck Mine.”

Michael Furrey asked if there were any guidance or standards on defining mines and what make them historic. Charles Bates said the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office has criteria for what makes a site historic.

Charles Bates said he is not sure the commission has the authority to stop further construction on this site. He said he is surprised however that with what Ms. Rettig has presented regarding the structure approval has been granted for construction of the site. The authority lies with the township land use board, he said.

Ms. Rettig provided documentation to the HPC that the Pleasant Valley community filed with the township land use office on the property. Land use administrator Kim Decker told Ms. Rettig she would put the documentation in the applicant’s file.

Ted Laabs said he feels the HPC should investigate the history and uniqueness of the area, the ore, and hematite, and he feels they identify its historic value. He said he would like to see a historic marker erected at the site.

Charles Bates said the commission could not put up a historic marker without the property owner’s permission.

Ms. Rettig also questioned the safety issue of the abandoned mines and any impact it would have on their lake. They are also concerned about the historic value of the mine.

Ted Laabs said he would like to see the history of the entire McAfee area, the mines, and the former railroad recognized. Charles Bates said he wanted to focus only on the historic value of the mine at the current time.

Commission members also suggested the lake community might consult with the township environmental commission on the environmental concerns and also with other township departments to address the safety issues. Ms. Rettig said the lake community has already had two collapsed sinkholes, one on Birch Street and another on Butternut. No one knew about the mine until they read Ron Dupont’s article, she said.

Charles Bates invited Ms. Rettig and other members of the lake community board to attend the commission’s next meeting on September 3 to further discuss the issue. If the Pleasant Valley Lake community wants to go forward with memorializing the historic value of the mine property, the commission would discuss it further. If the community wants to erect a historic marker, they could further discuss it at the commission’s September 3 meeting.

B. DeKay Cemetery Historic Marker Dedication

Charles Bates announced that the Vernon Township Historical Society will erect a historic marker at the DeKay Cemetery, the township’s oldest cemetery, on July 2 and has invited all of the members of the historic preservation commission to attend the dedication and a reception afterwards at the society’s museum for members of the DeKay family who are coming from Canada to attend the dedication.

5. Applications for Review

A. LU6-15-5 Taco Bell

An application was presented to the land use board to construct a Taco Bell restaurant on Route 94, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts. The 1850s Campbell House, which sits on the site, would be destroyed to build the restaurant.

Once the building is taken down, it is gone forever, Charles Bates said. In discussing this application the commission has determined there is historical value on the property, being the 1850s building. The commission suggested that the applicant construct the Taco Bell restaurant within the 1850s building and not raze the building that might be of historic value. The commission noted, however, the building has not been memorialized as a township landmark. The commission also recommended the developer conduct a Phase 1 Archaeological Study on the property to determine any historical significance to the site. The recording secretary will forward the recommendation to the land use board.

B. LU5-15-4 Bulk Variance for a Front Porch

The commission has no historical concerns about this application.

6. Commissioner Comments

The commission discussed the new owners of Mountain Creek. The Koffman family now owns the Mountain Creek Resort. They discussed what the future plans for the resort might be and whether the historic Stewart House on Route 94 would be affected.

Commissioner Ted Laabs said the Stewart House and the site must remain together. To move the structure would impact its historic value, he said.

Charles Bates said he has heard the new owners would not be moving the Stewart House.


Michael Furrey moved to adjourn the meeting at 9 p.m.
Valerie Seufert seconded the motion.
All commissioners were in favor.

Charles Bates canceled the July and August meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission, saying many people will be away during these months. The next meeting of the Vernon Township Historic Preservation Commission will be on September 3, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Recording Secretary