Minutes: October 16, 2014
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 23, 2014. Notice is also posted on the bulletin board and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.
Roll Call of Members
In the absence of Chairman Stephen Sokolewicz, Charles Bates chaired the meeting. The meeting was called to order at 7:15 p.m. Mr. Bates said there was no set agenda but he had several items from old business he would discuss. Regarding a secretary for the commission, Charles Bates said he and Mayor Marotta and Jessi Paladini had worked it out. Ms. Paladini will serve as the commission’s secretary during the months the VTMUA does not meet on the same night. During the months that it meets on the same night, Ms. Paladini can come into the HPC meeting and place a recorder on the table and then transcribe the recordings. He suggested discussing whether the meetings should remain the third Thursday of every month.
The chairman said he is going to open the meeting to the public and keep it open throughout the duration of the meeting.
Charles Bates said the items to be discussed are as follows:
- Insurance—Marlene Ford
- SLAP Cemetery Cleanup
- Hotel Occupancy Tax
- Western Highlands Scenic Byway
- Glenwood Historic Designation
The meeting was opened to the public.
Applications under Review
There were no applications to review.
1. Insurance: Re Marlene Ford
The commission members discussed the status of Marlene Ford’s homeowners insurance for Cedar Crest Farm. Charles stated he is the liaison with the mayor and township council. The insurance company for Cedar Crest Farm on Route 515 will not renew the policy on the property if it has historic designation. Mayor Marotta is going to look into the situation. Charles said the reason why the commission is involved is because the members are concerned that if owners of historic properties find out about difficulties with insurance they might not want landmark designation of their properties.
Ted Laabs suggested they contacted someone at the state historic preservation office to see what they might recommend. He said the commission should find out what it could do to help so that it will not hinder others from preserving their properties.
Chris Hanke said in his conversations with real estate professionals and other insurance companies, they have never heard of such an issue regarding properties with historic designation.
Carol Kadish said she does not think the commission needs to do anything and said she thinks the matter is a fluke. She noted that as an owner of historic property, as well as the owners of Meadowburn or other historic properties have had no problems getting insurance.
Charles Bates suggested Chris Hanke contact Ms. Ford when appropriate to further discuss the matter.
2. SLAP Cemetery Cleanup
The commission discussed the possibility of cleaning several historic cemeteries, possibly next spring. The Sussex County Sheriff’s SLAP program could possibly do the cleanup work. Charles Bates suggested coming up with 3-4 cemeteries that need the work. Carol Kadish suggested the Peter Martin’s cemetery and Williamsville and DeKay cemeteries be cleaned. It was suggested the county sheriff’s SLAP program (Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program) might help with the work. There was concern whether a statutorily appointed municipal government commission could do work on private properties and whether it was legal for the historic preservation commission to go onto private properties to do this work. The cemetery properties are privately owned. There was a question about who owns the DeKay Cemetery and whether it is private property. Carol Kadish said the cemeteries are not privately owned properties. Commissioner Chris Hanke said they need to check the lots and blocks to determine ownership, and he also questioned the liability for the commission and for the township in working in the cemeteries. He does not know what jurisdiction a municipal government might have on the project and suggested it might have to be done by a non-profit group rather than a municipal government. In prior years, the Vernon Township Historical Society has cleaned and restored the historic cemeteries in the township with the assistance of the sheriff’s SLAP team and historian Bob Longcore. Commissioner Ted Laabs said some might consider it desecration of the cemetery or a violation of religious perspectives. Carol Kadish said she and Layton Bergman had done a site visit to the Williamsville Cemetery in Highland Lakes and discovered vandalism. Charles Bates also said there is evidence or potential for vandalism and drug use or juvenile mischief at some of the cemetery properties. The commissioners agreed they should get legal opinions on the issues raised regarding the cemeteries.
3. Hotel Room Occupancy Tax
The commission discussed the hotel occupancy tax and whether they could get some money from it for various projects and discussed what the money could be used for. Commissioner Carol Kadish had suggested asking the governing body for some of the money from this tax. Projects the money could be used for include interpretive signage or apps for historic sites, including the designation of Glenwood as a historic area.
4. Glenwood Historic Designation
Charles Bates said he asked Pochuck Valley Farm if they would be willing to put signage on their property in anticipation that the residents of Glenwood would be favorable to going forward with the designation of Glenwood as a historic educational district. Stephen Sokolewicz has put together a PowerPoint presentation for the project that is ready to be presented to the Glenwood community in the near future. The project would include interpretive signage. Charles Bates said that as vice-chairman of the commission he wants to see this historic designation get done. He said they have been waiting for more than a year, and it needs to get done. Carol Kadish suggested the commission ask its chairman, Stephen Sokolewicz, to allow Charles Bates to be the representative for the project. The commission would also need township input on the project and approval to put up the interpretive signage. The commission will present the project to the Glenwood community at a public meeting at the Glenwood Baptist Church. Funds for the project would come from the hotel occupancy tax. Glenwood would not be designated a historic district but rather a historic education district area that is significant to the Township of Vernon, Chris Hanke said.
5. Western Highlands Scenic Byway
Jessi Paladini, the new secretary for the HPC and also president of the Vernon Township Historical Society, announced that the society sponsored a successful nomination for scenic byway designation for the township. The idea for the scenic byway originated with Vernon Environmental Commission Chairman Dennis Miranda a number of years ago but was dropped after Mr. Miranda moved out of state. The historical society picked up the sponsorship and saw it to fruition in July 2014. The Western Highlands Scenic Byway goes from Route 515, starting at its intersection with Route 23 down through Route 94 to the New York state line and also along Vernon Crossing Road to Sandhill Road, and back over to Route 94 past the ski resorts. This byway was designated by the New Jersey Department of Transportation as the state’s eighth official scenic byway. Ms. Paladini said the society is now tasked with creating a management plan for the byway within five years. She is forming a committee to create this management plan, which will include the town planners and other officials, and she would like a representative from the historic preservation commission. She asked if the HPC would designate Charles Bates as its representative on the committee.
On a motion by Chris Hanke, seconded by Carol Kadish, Charles Bates was appointed the historic preservation commission’s designee for the Western Highlands Scenic Byway Management Plan Committee.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Chris Hanke, Carol Kadish, Ted Laabs, Charles Bates
Approval of Minutes
There were no minutes to approve.
1. Stewart House
The commission discussed the Stewart House on Route 94, which is owned by Mountain Creek. The resort developer has indicated the Stewart House will be moved and relocated. The commission opposes moving the structure and questioned whether it is eligible for listing on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Charles Bates asked Chris Hanke to research for the next meeting whether it is already a state landmark or whether it is on the state list of eligible sites. Chris Hanke will look for the survey of the property as well.
2. Drew Farm
The commission was scheduled to take action on recommending the landmark designation of the Drew Farm, owned by Dennis Iulo. Charles Bates said he has sent letters to Mr. Iulo and has called him, but to date Mr. Iulo has not respond to his repeated attempts. He said he has not heard Mr. Iulo since the beginning of the year when Mr. Iulo told him he approved the landmark designation of his property.
Since the commission had not heard from Mr. Iulo and because the hearing had not been advertised in the newspaper, as is required by ordinance, the commission decided to postpone the landmark designation hearing until the November 20 meeting of the commission. Jessi Paladini, a longtime friend of Dennis Iulo’s, offered to go to Mr. Iulo’s house with Charles Bates to discuss the status of the landmark designation and to tell Mr. Iulo about the date of the public hearing. She will also advertise for the November 20 pubic hearing. Jessi Paladini and Charles Bates will meet at 9:30 a.m. on October 18 to go to the Drew Farm to speak with Mr. Iulo.
Carol Kadish had to leave the meeting at 8:25 and because there would no longer be a quorum if she left, the meeting was adjourned on a motion by Carol Kadish and seconded by Ted Laabs. All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m. The next meeting will be on November 20, 2014.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini, Secretary