All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the Planning/Zoning Department.

Minutes: April 13, 2011

Mr. Theobald called the meeting to order at 7:03 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 January 20, 2011 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

Roll Call    Also Present
Andrew BorisukNP Michael Garofalo, Esq., Board Attorney
Andrea CoculaNP Corey Stoner, Board Engineer
David GornsteinP  
Jessi PaladiniP  
Mayor Rinker (7:42 p.m.)P  
Councilmember SeufertNP  
Jean MurphyP  
Martin TheobaldP  
Joseph TadrickNP  
Chris Hack (#1 Alt)NP  
Ed Rolando (#2 Alt)P  
Joseph Ferrer (#3 Alt)NP  
Edward Seger (#4 Alt)P  

Note: Mr. Tadrick, Councilmember Seufert and recording secretary advised the office they would not be in attendance tonight.

Public Hearings

LU# 11-10-11: Kyungkon Choi, Block 220.01, Lot 8 - Minor Subdivision with a Bulk Variance

Stephen McGee, Esq. came forward on behalf of the applicant along with Ms. Choi and the architect, Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Jordan discussed his report and the changes that were made to the plan pursuant to Mr. Stoner’s engineering report. Mr. Jordan advised that the remainder lot 8 was increased by 3266 feet to bring it more into conformance. With regard to adding a new driveway, Mr. Jordan met with the County Engineer and was told that the applicant was unable to obtain approval for a new driveway as the northeast site distance is not within the county requirements for a new driveway. However, Mr. Jordan reported that upon further research it was discovered that there had been an existing driveway in years past so the applicant was able to apply for a permit for an existing driveway opening.

With regard to the trees on the property line, they are not on the applicant’s property so they will not be taken down.

Mr. Stoner advised that he approves of the changes made by the architect. Mr. Stoner would prefer the driveway on the south side but agreed that the County has jurisdiction on this matter. He agreed with the septic location.

Mr. Garofalo asked Mr. McGee, who agreed, that the setback on the “remainder lot,” where the existing house is located, is a pre-existing, non-conformity and will never be moved.

Mr. Stoner confirmed that the proposed lot meets all setback requirements and the “remainder lot” is an undersized lot at 26,729 square feet which is approximately 3,200 square feet below the requirement which requires a variance. Mr. Theobald asked, and Mr. Stoner confirmed, that the adjacent lots to this one are similar in size.

Meeting was opened to the public

No one came forward.

Meeting was closed to the public

Motion: Mr. Gornstein made a motion to approve the minor subdivision with the remainder lot being undersized and a front yard setback variance. Ms. Paladini seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: GORNSTEIN - Y, PALADINI - Y, MURPHY - Y, ROLANDO - Y, FERRER - Y, SEGER - Y, THEOBALD - Y.

LU # 2-11-13: Mountain Gate, LLC, Block 240, Lot 4

Mr. Theobald advised the LUB that the applicant requested this hearing be carried to the next meeting on April 27, 2011. Mr. Kirwan advised that this hearing may be carried to the first meeting in May—May 11, 2011. Mr. Garofalo asked Mr. Kirwan to suggest that the applicant re-notice this hearing.

LU # 2-11-01: Jesse Moore and John Dekker, Block 205.09, Lots 5 & 6 - Lot line adjustment with a variance.

Mr. Jesse Moore came forward and was sworn in by the LUB attorney. Mr. Moore said that he currently lives in Highland Lakes and his neighbor, Mr. Dekker, has agreed to sell him a portion of his land that wraps around the back of his land so that he can add a free-standing garage. Mr. Moore has two classic cars which are parked in the front yard. He explained that he needs the garage to store the cars and to store seasonal items. He said he has spoken with his neighbors and they seem to be “on board” with this plan.

Mr. Moore explained that this will require a variance for a minor subdivision as both lots are undersized and will remain as such.

Mr. Stoner recommended that the application be deemed complete and discussed his report on this application. With this plan Mr. Moore’s lot becomes more conforming and Mr. Dekker’s lot becomes less conforming. The variances related to the subdivision will be maximum lot coverage, middle front yard setback for the garage and the rest are pre-existing conditions.

Mr. Moore stated that after the garage is constructed there will not be a need for a front driveway so that can be eliminated which will make the lot coverage 35%. Mr. Stoner discussed the other variances required for the accessory building.

Meeting was opened to the public

No one came forward.

Meeting was closed to the public

Motion: Mr. Gornstein made a motion to approve this application with the variances. Ms. Murphy seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: GORNSTEIN - Y, PALADINI - Y, MURPHY - Y, ROLANDO - Y, FERRER - Y, SEGER - Y. THEOBALD - Y. Passed.

LU # 3-11-05, Jeffrey Pellet, Block 205.02, Lots 17 & 18, Minor Subdivision

Mr. and Mrs. Pellet and Laurie J. Emmons, Esq. came forward and were sworn in by the LUB attorney. Ms. Emmons explained that the applicant is looking to take a portion of lot 17 and adding it to the adjacent lot 18. Mr. Garofalo had no comments or questions.

Meeting was opened to the public

No one came forward.

Meeting was closed to the public

Motion: Mr. Gornstein made a motion to approve this application with the variances. Ms. Murphy seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: GORNSTEIN - Y, PALADINI - Y, MURPHY - Y, ROLANDO - Y, FERRER - Y, SEGER - Y, MAYOR RINKER - Y, THEOBALD - Y. Passed.

Open meeting to the public for items other than those listed on the agenda

No one came forward.

Closed meeting to the public

Resolutions

LU# 2-11-2: James & Wendy Robinson, Block 100.07, Lot 25 - Bulk Variance for an Addition.

Motion: Mayor Rinker made a motion to approve this resolution. Mr Ferrer seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: GORNSTEIN - Y, RINKER - Y, MURPHY - Y, THEOBALD - Y, ROLANDO - Y, FERRER - Y, SEGER - Y. Passed.

LU# 7-10-5: Verizon Wireless/Cellco, Block 82, Lot 2.01- Construction of a 100' Monopole and 12' x 30' Equipment Shelter

Mr. Stoner commented that the resolution should be revised to reflect the approval of a tree-type monopole with the top removed. Mr. Stoner also commented that with regard to the driveway the language will need to change to reflect that if the applicant cannot get signatures, they will not be required to maintain the whole driveway by themselves.

Motion: Mr. Gornstein made a motion to approve this resolution with the minor revisions. Mr. Seger seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: GORNSTEIN - Y, PALADINI - Y, MURPHY - Y, THEOBALD - Y, SEGER - Y. Passed.

Land Use Board Discussion Items

Solar Wind Ordinance Discussion and Review

Mr. Garofalo reported that solar panels and solar farms are popping up everywhere. His hometown’s planning board approved of a large one recently. He went on to say that the NJ legislature has given these types of facilities every benefit in getting local approvals to the point where they may not ever be denied. He feels much consideration should be given to how the Town wishes to have solar panel farms developed because there are some who are of the opinion that while they are advisable in terms of energy production, they are not the most beautiful things. He feels the planner should give consideration to a municipal ordinance regulating solar panel farms.

Mr. Theobald advised that he researched solar panels for his farm and has not come to a decision at this point.

Mr. Stoner has not gotten a report from Ms. Caldwell on this issue. However, he commented that there are many issues connected to these farms such as aesthetics, the percentage of land being used, the terrain and environmental issues.

Mr. Garofalo discussed the solar farm in Wantage where the panels are low off the ground and take up a huge amount of land. He reported that the legislature has deemed under the MLUL that solar farms are inherently beneficial.

Mr. Gornstein asked if there would be a waiver required in the Highlands area. No one had that answer. Mr. Gornstein feels that this use would be of a commercial nature in the Highlands area and therefore would be prohibited. He suggested that the ordinance state that the applicant obtain any applicable waivers from the Highlands and/or any other state agency before the LUB hears the application.

Mr. Stoner said that there is only so much control with these types of applications. They are similar to cell tower applications. Mr. Garofalo continued by saying they must be permitted and, permitted by law in industrial zones.

Mr. Garofalo described the presentation he attended by a company that solicits solar panel sites. He said a middleman organization will marry a property owner with someone who is willing to invest in the installation of solar panels (investors to property owners). The investors are not necessarily solar panel people. They are people looking to make money. The property owner is getting a generous monthly payment to allow the solar panels on their property such that an individual who is sitting with industrial property or any other property that they can’t develop sees this prospect as very attractive. The tax assessors have yet to figure out how these farms are going to be taxed.

Mr. Garofalo commented that one of the drawbacks to these farms is the extreme glare created when the panels are pitched at an angle when the sun hits them.

Mr. Theobald commented that in essence consumers are paying for the solar farms because they have to pay the energy companies a premium because they are required to buy or produce green power.

Mayor Rinker suggested that the environmental commission attend the next LUB meeting to discuss this matter further.

The LUB members agreed to give the Planner, Jessica Caldwell, the permission to review the issue and prepare a draft ordinance.

Meeting was opened to the public

Mr. Walker came forward. He stated that he lives at 99 Sand Hill Road on a farm with 193 acres. He reported that he is contacted every week by solar developers. He has been advised by them that by the year 2020 22.5% of all power consumed in NJ is required to be from renewable production and that NJ is way behind on their projected guidelines. He said that solar renewable energy certificates trade on an electronics exchange and NJ has the highest priced units in the country and offers the most money. If the utilities do not meet this number they will wind up having to pay significant penalties.

Mr. Walker said that people in the solar business are seeing the opportunity based upon the penalties. These solar farms are heavily subsidized—30% Federal tax grant that expires by the end of this year. In subsequent years it will be a tax credit.

Mr. Garofalo advised Mr. Walker that he may not want to discuss this if there is any chance he is interested in doing this in the future and will be back before the LUB. Mr. Walker advised that he is not interested. Mr. Garofalo asked him what his message was for this board. He replied by saying that he is being offered a lot of money but feels this is a bad idea for Vernon being an inherently beautiful and lush valley and Sand Hill Road being one of the most beautiful roads in Vernon. Mr. Walker said that he wants the town to prosper and commented that these developers are not going to be shopping or dining or using the businesses in Vernon. The money for solar farms are producing revenue that goes out of this town to a speculator and feels it would be an insult. He commented that how the town “looks” should be of major interest to the LUB and the Town Council being that the number one industry in this town is outdoor recreation.

From talking to the developer, he found out that in order for a project to be financially viable, a minimum of 5 megawatts of power needs to be produced and this would take 30 acres of land. The land next to his farm is in contract for a solar farm. The developer is offering to purchase his land for $27k per acre at 193 acres. He feels this would be the wrong thing to do. Mr. Walker said people slow down on sand hill road to see their Angus cows. This will no longer happen if there is a 30 acre solar farm. It will change the ambience of the town. He feels it is within the LUB power to say that in Vernon the land is the town’s main resource and Vernon wants to preserve that resource. When he spoke with the State of New Jersey they told him it is up to local ordinances to determine whether or not these farms can be developed. He wants to believe that the LUB shares the same opinion as they do that solar farms are an economic sink hole for Vernon.

Mr. Garofalo commented that this was one of the best presentations he had ever heard. He asked Mr. Walker if he is being told that the farm and solar farm can co-exist to which he replied, yes.

Mr. Theobald told Mr. Walker that the LUB makes ordinance suggestions to the Town Council. He told him that he may make the same presentation to the Town Council. Mr. Walker asked if he would be able to meet with the LUB Planner, Jessica Caldwell. Mr. Theobald asked what the rule would be for that meeting.

Mr. Stoner commented that a solar panel farm ordinance would be very similar to cell tower ordinance.

Mr. Theobald clarified to the LUB members that what Mr. Walker was speaking about is a solar farm producing commercial energy which is different than an individual who has a piece of property who wants to produce their own solar energy for their own use only. He went on to say that the LUB should make a quick decision on this issue.

Mr. Paul __________ a resident of Vernon came forward and advised the board that his current business is solar and geo-thermal heating and cooling. He stated that he heard a lot of things tonight that included incomplete information. Mr.___________ has a draft ordinance that may be of use to the town.

Meeting was closed to the public

Minutes

MARCH 9, 2011: Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion: Mr. Gornstein made a motion to approve of the 3/9/11 Regular Meeting Minutes. Mayor Rinker seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Escrows, Board Fees and Bond Reductions

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Michael Garofalo, Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP
    2. Board Engineer: Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 1/28/11 to 3/4/11 - ($750.00)
      2. Toye’s Recreation: LU# 8-10-8 - Services through 9/30/10 - ($1,419.00)
      3. Mountain Creek Overflow Parking: LU# 2-11-4 Services through 3/4/11 - ($90.00)
      4. Mountain Gate, LLC: LU# 2-11-3 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($330.00)
      5. Cellco/Verizon Wireless: LU# 7-10-5 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($60.00)
      6. Mountain Creek Day Lodge: PB# 2-08-2 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($3,119.00)
      7. Kyungkon Choi: LU# 11-10-11 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($60.00)
      8. Jesse More: LU# 2-11-1 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($390.00)
      9. Robinson: LU# 2-11-2 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($360.00)
    3. Board Planner: Jessica Caldwell AICP, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 1/28/11 to 3/4/11 - ($565.00)
      2. Mountain Gate, LLC: LU# 2-11-3 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($452.00)
      3. Mountain Creek Day Lodge: PB# 2-08-2 - Services through 3/4/11 - ($282.50)
    4. Board Recording Secretary: Cynthia Davis
      1. Services through 3/14/11 - ($60.00)
  2. Request for Escrows to be Closed
    1. None

Motion: A motion was made by Mr. Gornstein to approve of the above listed Board Fees. Mayor Rinker seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Pending Applications

Highland Lakes Community Master Plan Review

Mr. Gornstein advised that a well head protection ordinance proposal has been done by NJ Water, which he sent to the LUB members. NJ Water would like to do a presentation to the LUB on this proposal. Mr. Theobald said that he would discuss this with Dennis and try to get it on the LUB agenda for a future meeting.

Discussions

Historic Preservation Mapping

Jessi Paladini asked if there was any discussion on the historic preservation GPS mapping. Mr. Garofalo commented that he saw no legal impediment to designating a portion of a lot and anyone who is capable of doing GPS mapping could provide the information for the designation. Mr. Garofalo gave Ms. Paladini a copy of his memo on this issue to be distributed to the rest of the LUB members.

Dog Park

Mr. Stoner commented that the dog park in Vernon (located on the Bd. Of Ed. Property on Route 517) has been approved through the Sussex County Planning Board. Within the next month or 2 the project will begin. (Note: Mr. Stoner provided his services for this project on a voluntary basis.)

Dennis Kirwan commented that many applicants are requesting extension of time. The State has passed the Extension Permit Act which extends all approvals to December 31, 2012. Mr. Garofalo stated that this act may not apply to the Highlands Planning Area.

Adjournment

Mr. Gornstein made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:12 p.m. Mayor Rinker seconded the motion. All were in favor.

These minutes were transcribed by Cynthia Davis on April 28, 2011.

Certification

I, the Board Secretary, hereby certify that the above minutes were approved at the regularly scheduled Land Use Board meeting on May 11, 2011.

Respectfully submitted,
Cynthia Davis
Board Secretary