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

Minutes: January 23, 2019

Call to Order

Meeting was called to order by Vice Chairman Spoerl 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 14, 2019 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building.

Salute to the Flag

Vice Chairman Spoerl led the assemblage of the flag.

Roll Call  Also Present
Mayor Harry ShortwayP Kim Decker, Board Secretary
Craig WilliamsNP Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Councilmember AubergerP  
Martin TheobaldNP  
Richard SpoerlP  
Willard McPeekP  
Andrea CoculaP  
Michael WhitakerP  
Kristi RapertoP  
Kelly Mitchell (#1 Alt)P  
Angela Erichsen (#2 Alt)P  
Alternate #3Vacant  
Alternate #4Vacant  

Record reflects that Mr. Theobald informed board of his absence.

Public Participation

Vice Chairman Spoerl opened the meeting to the public for items other than those listed on the agenda.

Seeing no members of the public wishing to come forward, Vice Chairman Spoerl closed the meeting to the public.

Land Use Board Discussion Items (action may or may not be taken)

Sustainable Economic Development Plan

Board planner Ms. Caldwell explained the Sustainable Economic Development Plan (Plan) was prepared to explore ways to achieve the maximum potential of Vernon’s economic assets and how to move forward. The Plan was created with assistance from the economic development committee and funded by a Highlands Council grant. The Plan describes how to promote economic development within the Vernon Town Center, the resort areas as well as the McAfee section. Ms. Caldwell stated information of Vernon’s strengths and weaknesses was gained from the Vernon Economic Development Committee, Vernon Police Athletic League, Greenway Action Committee and Vernon Chamber. Strengths of Vernon included natural resources, recreation opportunities, resorts, four-season community and unique visual aspects. Ms. Caldwell continued that Vernon is a small town, family atmosphere, moderate taxes with hidden gems. Ms. Caldwell explained Vernon has good variety of small businesses and community events and suggested to increase promotion of these assets.

Weaknesses of Vernon include lack of water, sewer and infrastructure in the town center, lack of parking for the Appalachian Trail, and lack of communication between Vernon organizations promoting business. Also, Vernon is located in the Highlands Preservation and planning areas hindering development, many residents experience long commutes and the bankruptcy or future of Mountain Creek is an issue. Ms. Caldwell added some threats existing in Vernon are the large area of federal open space not on tax roles, the vacant status of Legends, the illegal dumping issue and nature of local politics.

Ms. Caldwell stated that the EDAC survey found residents want more community events and possibly an amphitheater. Goals for Vernon include furthering the township identity, increase growth through redevelopment, improve transportation modes and promote agri or eco-tourism. The plan noted the large population loss since 2010 in Vernon and increase in home foreclosures.

Ms. Caldwell stated the Plan includes a review of census data related to population characteristics, employment, housing and income. Analysis determined by the 2018 ESRI Tapestry Segmentation found that Vernon’s 8,504 households exhibit characteristics of the following segments: savvy suburbanites, pleasantville, home improvement, green acres, and bright young professionals and noted each group’s spending habits and employment status. Ms. Caldwell explained that Vernon experiences “leakage” as residents must go elsewhere to meet their commercial and employment needs. Ms. Caldwell, referring to concept of “placemaking,” explained that with Vernon’s many recreational resources, there are opportunities to pair these activities with new food establishments, art & entertainment for visitors to enjoy.

Ms. Caldwell summarized the recommendations of the Plan:

  • Prioritize infrastructure in the town center with development or redevelopment
  • Establish business concierge to assist with permitting process
  • Complete trail system and create brochures and maps for distribution
  • Event planning, wayfinding and increased signage throughout town
  • Integrate scenic byway and greenway routes
  • Strengthen connection between various areas of the township
  • Identify locations for electric vehicle charging stations-promote green community
  • Promote Vernon’s uniqueness with existing recreational assets
  • Encourage development of underutilized areas
  • Increase flexibility, reduce hindrances in town center
  • Promote agri and eco tourism

Ms. Caldwell explained with support from the economic development committee and the township council, the goals of the implementation Plan can be prioritized and annually reviewed.

Vice Chairperson Spoerl opened the meeting to the public for comments.

John Stevens, Vernon Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) noted his involvement working with the town planner on the Plan. He suggested the Plan should identify proposed activities with timelines using the township’s open space fund, so the public is aware of the town’s progress. Mr. Stevens added the #1 priority should be the availability of water & sewer in the town center which parallels with needs of recreational visitors. Positive response for an amphitheater was received from the EDAC survey for additional community events. Mayor Shortway explained the town center proposed trail will be discussed at next council meeting with the intent to be completed in 2019. He added Vernon must continue to build its relationship with Mountain Creek, promote business in town center to prevent “leakage” and expand good investments within our budget. Mayor Shortway noted there have been parties interested in Legends Hotel as well as proposed industrial hemp farms, but progress has halted.

Mr. Stevens stated Vernon needs to be business friendly with use of town concierge to assist with permitting processes. Ms. Caldwell explained further review by the board will be held at a future meeting.

Seeing no more members of the public wishing to come forward, Vice Chairperson Spoerl closed the meeting to the public.

Minutes

January 9, 2019: Reorganization Meeting Minutes (Shortway, Williams, Auberger, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Raperto, Whitaker, Mitchell)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the Reorganization Minutes of January 9, 2019 by Ms. Cocula and seconded by Mr. Auberger. All members were in favor. Motion passed.

January 9, 2019: Regular Meeting Minutes (Shortway, Williams, Auberger, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Raperto, Whitaker, Mitchell)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the Regular Minutes of January 9, 2019 by Mr. Spoerl and seconded by Mr. McPeek. All members were in favor. Motion passed.

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

Vice Chairperson Spoerl announced an additional fee to be added to list from Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates - Land Use Board Business - ($125.00)

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Glenn Kienz, Weiner Law Group LLP
      1. Land Use Board Business: Services through 12/12/18 ($533.42)
      2. Benning and DeAlto: LU# 11-18-9 - Services through 12/12/18 ($80.00)
      3. Robert Shuppon: LU# 12-17-6 - Services through 12/12/18 ($80.00)
      4. The Land Conservancy of NJ: LU# 10-18-8 - Services through 12/12/18 ($96.00)
    2. Board Planner: Jessica Caldwell, J. Caldwell & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: ($0)
    3. Board Engineer: Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates
      1. Land Use Board Business: ($0)
    4. Board Recording Secretary: Irene Mills ($75.00)

Motion: A motion was made to approve the Fees by Mr. Auberger and seconded by Mr. McPeek. All members were in favor. Motion passed.

Vice Chairperson Spoerl noted the board must vote for a temporary attorney for a cell tower application in February due to a conflict for the board attorney.

Motion: A motion was made by Ms. Cocula to approve the firm of Laddey, Clark & Ryan to represent the board for the cell tower application and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker.

ROLL CALL: SHORTWAY: Y; AUBERGER: Y; SPOERL: Y; MCPEEK: Y; COCULA: Y; WHITAKER: Y; RAPERTO: Y; MITCHELL: Y; ERICHSEN: Y.

Vice Chairperson Spoerl read a drafted letter to be sent to Ed Rolando in appreciation of his dedicated service to Vernon Township as a former member of the land use board. All members agreed letter is approved to be sent and well deserved.

Adjournment

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

Meeting was adjourned at 7:56 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted
Irene Mills
Recording Secretary