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

Minutes: February 14, 2018

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order by Board Attorney Steve Tombalakian, Esq. at 7:00 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 16, 2017 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building.

Salute to the Flag

Board attorney Steve Tombalakian led the assemblage of the flag.

Roll Call  Also Present
John AubergerP Steve Tombalakian, Board Attorney
Craig WilliamsP Cory Stoner, Board Engineer
Councilmember KadishNP Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Martin TheobaldNP Kim Decker, Board Secretary
Richard SpoerlP  
Willard McPeekP  
Andrea CoculaNP  
Ed RolandoP  
Kristi RapertoP  
Michael Whitaker (#1 Alt)P  
Kelly Mitchell (#2 Alt)P  
Angela Erichsen (#3 Alt)P  

Mr. Tombalakian administered the oath of office for new board member Kelly Mitchell.

Public Hearings

LU# 12-17-6: Robert & Joanne Shuppon - Block 82, Lots 2 & 7.02, - Minor Subdivision

Board member Michael Whitaker and Councilmember Kadish recused themselves from hearing the application due to a conflict.

Robert Shuppon, 18 End -O-Lane Trail, Sussex, was sworn in and testified he is the owner of Lot 7.02 and Lot 2 is owned by his mother-in-law. Mr. Stoner explained application is to subdivide an approximately 1.34 acres of Block 82, Lot 2 and add it to Block 82, Lot 7.02 and because both lots are pre-existing non-conforming, proposed lot widths would not be worsened and no variances are needed for this application. Mr. Shuppon testified that the purpose of application is to gain more land for existing farmland assessed property and for future potential of a nursery.

Mr. Tombalakian opened the application to the public. Seeing no members of public wishing to come forward, public portion was closed.

A motion to approve LU#12-17-6 was made by Mr. Rolando and seconded by Mr. Williams.

ROLL CALL: AUBERGER: Y; WILLIAMS: Y; MCPEEK: Y; ROLANDO: Y, RAPERTO: Y; MITCHELL: Y; ERICHSEN: Y.
Motion passed.

Mr. Tombalakian stated the deeds must be submitted by the owner to the land use department for review before being filed in the county clerk’s office and that the resolution will be memorialized at the next land use board meeting.

Town Center Redevelopment—“Area in Need of Redevelopment Study for Parcels Located in the TC Zone and Surrounding Area”

Ms. Caldwell, board planner stated the township council requested the land use board to study certain areas for redevelopment and she prepared a study that the board will discuss tonight. Mr. Rolando stepped down from discussion because he owns property in the proposed area. Mr. Auberger also stepped down recusing himself due to a conflict. Ms. Caldwell was sworn in to testify by Mr. Tombalakian.

Ms. Caldwell explained the Vernon Council through Resolution #17-169 authorized the board to conduct a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment study. The “Area in Need of Redevelopment” is located within the Town Center zone and surrounding area bounded by Rt. 515, Rt. 94, Main Street and Church Street. She added the township chose the non-condemnation study which means the municipality does not have the right to exercise power of eminent domain in that area. If the study area is designated per Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL), it can provide a process for local governments to encourage private investment in areas which are underutilized, vacant, deteriorated or abandoned. She explained after the public hearing, the land use board recommends to council to adopt the study in whole or part. The decision then is sent to Department of Community Affairs for approval and then noticed to property owners. After required appeal period, the township can adopt the redevelopment plan allowing negotiations with developers to occur, issuance of bonds, convey property without public bidding process and granting long term tax exemptions and abatements (PILOTS).

Ms. Caldwell detailed that each parcel must be reviewed against the statutory criteria to determine if at least one criterion is met pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5 as listed on pages 6-7 in the study for example: dilapidated buildings, abandonment, vacant land for over 10-year period, or for granting tax exemptions within the zone. Ms. Caldwell stated the study area included 172 parcels over 306 acres with mixed uses of residential, commercial, industrial and public properties and is in the Highlands Planning area not subject to Highlands Council approval. She continues detailing the maps in the study depicting environmental constraints, sewer service area, existing uses and municipally owned properties. Ms. Caldwell noted the purpose of the TC zone is to promote smart growth principals and create an economic center serving the needs of the township residents and regional tourism. The majority of parcels in the study are in the TC zone but also are in surrounding zones of R-4, C-3, and LI. The intent of the existing Town Center Zone is to promote an interactive commercial development on the ground or first floors and housing options to be provided on upper floors within a friendly walkable environment. The study revealed most of the properties are not developed to their maximum potential.

Ms. Caldwell stated the township last adopted the master plan in 2010 and reiterated the idea of a town center but little development was built. From page 23 of the study Ms. Caldwell explained how the designation of redevelopment will further enhance the goals of the master plan. Reasons include: foster a sense of community, provide economic development, encourage commercial and mixed-use development and direct majority of future growth in the center redevelopment areas.

Ms. Caldwell explained the analysis of the study area included information from tax records, aerial photographs, maps, physical inspections and master plan studies.

  • Seven parcels within the study area met Criterion “A” for substandard, unsafe and dilapidated structures.
  • Five parcels within the study area met Criterion “B” for vacant, abandoned or dilapidated buildings which are untenantable.
  • Forty-seven parcels within the study area met Criterion “C” are vacant of which seven are township owned, and problems with utility services limiting ability for development.
  • Thirty-five parcels within the study area met Criterion “D” for reasons of faulty or obsolete design, and inclusion on the NJDEP known contaminated sites list.
  • The study found that most of the properties in the study area met Criterion “E” of underutilization due to the ability to develop to a much greater extent than exists today. The study found the improvement to land ratio was 0.8:1 which is an indicator of underutilization.
  • The properties within the study area met the smart growth principal embodied in Criterion “H.” To direct future growth development towards existing infrastructure is one of the key principals of smart growth to limit sprawl and preserve the environment.

Ms. Caldwell stated that per Section 40A:12A-3, Redevelopment Law, the study area as delineated meets the statutory criteria to qualify as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment. She added that the list of parcels in the area is attached at end of study.

Mr. Tombalakian read a letter to the land use board from Mr. Ron Dupont questioning the role of historic preservation in redevelopment designation and noted there are locally historically preserved properties in the Town Center Area: Episcopal Church, St. Thomas Church; Benton-Wallace residence; board of education building. Ms. Caldwell explained redevelopment plan is a re-zoning for a site once it is designated and it is by voluntary participation by owner to work with township to develop the property.

Mr. Tombalakian opened the hearing to the public for questions.

Nancy Saccente, 578 Wycoff Ave, Ramsey, co-owner of parcel Block 190.09 Lot 8 stated that the public notice mailed did not include the statement as noted and objected to its availability. Mr. Tombalakian explained that the township council resolution authorizing the study was the statement referred to and can be accessed at the Vernon Township Municipal Clerk’s Office. Ms. Saccente questioned various numbers of parcels, 170,172 or 173, noted in the study and if proper notification was provided to the owners which Ms. Caldwell stated she will verify. Ms. Saccente questioned how it affects development since study area is in the Highlands Planning area. Ms. Caldwell explained there may be some DEP restrictions on certain lots but the Highlands Planning area is under jurisdiction of the municipality.

Ms. Saccente asked how parcel information such as utility service was determined and is the reason for this plan to complete the utilities. Ms. Caldwell stated the study was based on previous mapping of the sewer service area and town center and the plan could encourage new developers through PILOTs to fund additional utilities to the site. Mr. Stoner added that the plan could provide the potential of utility to expand the infrastructure if the sewer service area also were expanded but does not mean the township has to do it. Ms. Caldwell added that redevelopment can provide tools to use when municipalities work with developers and restated that Vernon chose the non-condemnation redevelopment which is voluntary participation by developers.

Ms. Saccente questioned why single family residential parcels are included in the study and asked what number of parcels met the Criterion “E” as it was not in the study. Ms. Caldwell explained the residential parcels are in the Town Center zone and the board can make the proper decision on which parcels should remain in the study. Ms. Saccente questioned how this designation will affect property taxes and what assessed values were utilized for the study. Ms. Caldwell stated the most current records were used and taxes would only be affected if use was changed. Ms. Saccente opined that the vacant land in the town does not have to be developed.

Ed DeYoung, Baldwin Drive, questioned if the driving force of this redevelopment designation is the lack of water and sewer utility in the Town Center area. Ms. Caldwell stated that this study is not being done for that purpose but for ability to offer incentives to developers, so utilities can be used at full capacity and no taxpayer funds are used. Mr. DeYoung, as a residential home owner, respectfully requested the board to remove private residences from the Redevelopment because it is inappropriate.

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to come forward, Mr. Tombalakian closed the public hearing for the town center redevelopment.

Public Participation

Mr. Tombalakian opened the meeting to the public for items other than those listed on the agenda.

Nancy Saccente, as co-owner of a vital commercial business, Dairy Queen, personally objected to Block 190.09 Lot 8, and all single-family homes that are included in the redevelopment study. Ms. Saccente also requested that the board should carry this hearing over to the next public meeting as she opined that the study is incomplete, missing information and to allow an opportunity of other property owners to attend.

Kevin Petrenko, 4 O’Dell Road, as property owner of a lot in the study, stated he is concerned for himself and his neighbors about mention of contaminated sites in the study and that developers will extend sewer lines and force residences to connect. Ms. Caldwell noted per Criterion “D,” there were no sites in the study listed on the NJDEP known contaminated sites list.

Mary Corallo, 4 Giveans Road, stated she resides on a private road, maintained privately with a well and septic and requests for her residence to be excluded from the redevelopment study.

Mr. Corallo, 4 Giveans Road, restated his residence on a private road does not receive any road services from the town or even mail service and opined the homes on his road should not be included in the study.

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to come forward, Mr. Tombalakian closed the meeting to the public.

Board members discussed the importance of the redevelopment study to “reboot” the Town Center area to help bring in developers but to move forward with consideration of the residential areas. Ms. Erichsen questioned if the board can remove all residential lots. Ms. Caldwell explained that to take all out may be problematic but sees no reason to remove those who came forward with the request. Mr. Tombalakian explained the board should consider the areas provided and make recommendations to the council through a resolution with explanations of changes, then the council could consider at their own hearing. Board discussion continued about potential removal of Blocks 190.09 lots 3, 4, 5, 7; Block 144 Lots 8, 9 but further specificity and revised mapping is required. Mr. Tombalakian suggested to continue the hearing, to allow additional discussion and revised mapping, to the next land use board meeting of March 14, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. with no further notice needed.

Resolutions

LU# 7-16-5: Waheguru Gas, LLC - Block 145, Lot 1.02, - Continuation of Application for Proposed Overall Existing Sign Identification

Motion: A motion was made to approve Resolution for LU#7-16-5 by Mr. Whitaker and seconded by Mr. Auberger.

ROLL CALL: ROLANDO: Y, MCPEEK: Y; WHITAKER: Y.
Motion passed.

LU# 7-17-3: A - Aqua New Jersey Inc. - Block 230.21, Lot 26, - Preliminary and Final Site Plan with Variances to Construct Above Ground Water Storage Tanks to Replace Existing Underground Water Storage Tanks

Motion: A motion was made to approve Resolution for LU#7-17-3-A by Mr. Williams and seconded by Mr. McPeek.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y, MCPEEK: Y.
Motion passed.

LU# 7-17-3 - B: Aqua New Jersey Inc. - Block 260, Lot 12.04, - Preliminary and Final Site Plan with Variances to Construct Above Ground Water Storage Tanks to Replace Existing Underground Water Storage Tanks

Motion: A motion was made to approve Resolution for Denial of LU#7-17-3-B by Mr. Rolando and seconded by Ms. Raperto.

ROLL CALL: ROLANDO: Y, RAPERTO: Y.
Motion passed.

Minutes

January 10, 2018: Reorganization Meeting Minutes (Williams, Theobald, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Rolando, Raperto)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the above minutes by Mr. McPeek and seconded by Mr. Williams.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; MCPEEK: Y; ROLANDO: Y, RAPERTO: Y.
Motion passed.

January 10, 2018: Regular Meeting Minutes (Williams, Theobald, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Rolando, Raperto)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the above minutes by Mr. McPeek and seconded by Mr. Williams.

ROLL CALL: WILLIAMS: Y; MCPEEK: Y; ROLANDO: Y, RAPERTO: Y.
Motion passed.

Appendix A: Escrows, Board Fees, Bond Reductions and Escrow Closures

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Glenn Kienz, Weiner Lesniak LLP
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 12/20/17 ($501.50)
      2. Land Use Board Business: Services through 12/20/17 ($384.00)
      3. Aqua NJ, LLC: LU# 7-17-3 - Services through 12/12/17 ($192.00)
      4. Waheguru: LU# 7-16-5 - Services through 12/13/17 ($96.00)
    2. Board Planner: Jessica Caldwell, J. Caldwell & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 1/10/18 ($360.00)
      2. Land Use Board Business: Services through 1/10/18 ($1,412.50)
      3. Aqua NJ, LLC: LU# 7-17-3 - Services through 12/13/17 ($178.50)
      4. Aqua NJ, LLC: LU# 7-17-3 - Services through 1/5/17 ($407.50)
      5. Aqua NJ, LLC: LU# 7-17-3 - Services through 1/5/17 ($587.50)
    3. Board Engineer: Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 12/13/17 ($187.50)
      2. Waheguru: LU# 7-16-5 - Services through 12/8/17 ($413.90)
      3. NWAC: LU# 11-16-11 - Services through 12/18/17 ($351.40)
      4. NWAC: LU# 11-16-12 - Services through 12/18/17 ($288.90)
      5. Aqua NJ, LLC: LU# 7-17-3 - Services through 12/12/17 ($125.00)
    4. Board Recording Secretary: Irene Mills ($82.50)
  1. Request for Escrows to Be Closed
    1. PB# 5-93-10: Englehardt Construction LLC - Block 122, Lot 7, - Minor Subdivision ($551.25)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the above fees in Appendix A & B by Mr. Whitaker and seconded by Mr. McPeek. All members were in favor.

Mr. Tombalakian announced that the land use board meeting of February 28, 2018 has been cancelled due to lack of board business.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion was made by Mr. Williams and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker. All members were in favor.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:42 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted
Irene Mills
Recording Secretary