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

Minutes: July 27, 2011

Mayor Marotta called the meeting to order at 7:__ 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 June 22, 2011 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building and filed with the office of the Township Clerk.

Roll Call

Roll Call    Also Present
Mayor MarottaP Jennifer Kovach, Esq., Board Attorney
Diane WexlerP Corey Stoner, Board Planner
Councilmember RizzutoNP Kim Decker, Planning & Zoning Administrative Assistant
Martin TheobaldNP Cynthia Davis, Recording/Board Secretary
Richard SpoerlP  
Joseph TadrickNP  
Andrea CoculaP  
Joseph FerrerP  
Jessica PaladiniP  
Chris Hack (#1 Alt)P  
Ed Rolando (#2 Alt)P  
Valerie Seufert (#3 Alt)NP  
Kristi Raperto (#4 Alt)P  

Mayor Marotta administered the Oath of Office to Christopher Hack and Richard Spoerl.

Mayor Marotta asked for a nomination of a temporary Chair to run this evening’s meeting. Ms. Cocula nominated Mr. Spoerl. Mr. Rolando seconded the nomination. There were no other nominations. ROLL CALL: MAROTTA - Y, WEXLER - Y,SPOERL - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, HACK - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Hearings

(Note: Mayor Marotta recused himself from the following D-variance hearing)

LU# 4-11-6: Market Square Management, Block141, Lot 2.03 - Use Variance, Major Site Plan - Solar Installation

James Opfer, Esq. and Bruce Zaretsky both came forward and were sworn in by the board attorney. Mr. Zaretsky, as Managing Member of Market Square Management, advised that he also owns Smokey’s Tavern and the Panini Cafe and the building where both businesses are located. He continued and said his intention with this application is to install a solar array on lot 2.03 with a pipe containing the electric components to connect the solar array to the building which will provide approximately 80-90% of the electrical needs for the two eateries which presently spends between $50-60K annually on electric bills.

The engineer’s report, dated July 21, 2011, was discussed. The property is located in the light industrial zone. The applicant is requesting variances for front, rear, and side setbacks and for the use. Ms. Caldwell explained that this application will be governed under the NJ State statute which permits solar within light industrial zone with 20 acres instead of the new Vernon ordinance. She said this is the reason why this application requires a use variance. Mr. Stoner commented that the applicant will need a soil conservation permit as the area is over 5000 square feet and he does not feel there is a need for any seepage pits for storm water run-off.

Mr. Zaretsky stated that solar power benefits society as a whole and Vernon is part of that social fabric. He described the property as sloping from front to rear ending with a flat area. The only re-grading of the property will be done to add a driveway. The solar panels will be in rows that step down the slope.

Mr. Stoner asked what the applicant was proposing to plant under the panels and suggested that grass be planted to stabilize the soils. Ms. Caldwell suggested that a low-growing grass be planted.

Mr. Zaretsky discussed the landscaping proposal. He said the southern side landscaping will be fairly low so that sunlight to those panels are not blocked. On the Sand Hill Road side, the landscaping will be higher to block the view from the road. The north side, on the Sirius Satellite property, is heavily wooded. He is proposing to use junipers and ewes as plantings. Ms. Caldwell advised Mr. Zaretsky that the landscaping on the plan is the opposite of what he described. As such, the plan will need to be changed. She also suggested using a mix of species for landscaping for a more natural look.

Mr. Stoner commented that the application, as presented, is contingent upon an easement and he asked the applicant what the status is of the easement. Mr. Zaretsky answered that there are currently 3 layers of approval from Sirius Satellite and there is one more approval required.

Mr. Stoner discussed the fact that there are environmental concerns (wetlands, easement, stream crossing) and the possibility of permits being required for them. Mr. Stoner commented that outside approvals will be needed including county approval, Sussex County soil conservation, construction department, and NJDEP.

Ms. Caldwell discussed her report dated May 11, 2011. Some of the issues to be considered are noise related to inverters, visual impacts and whether buffered by the landscaping, emergency management plans, de-commissioning plan, and a guarantee for landscaping for 2 years.

Mr. Stoner suggested that the applicant plant staggered trees that are 7-10 feet in height, not 3 feet as proposed. He feels there should be a buffer that is at least as high as the chain link fence height. Mr. Zaretsky agreed to have trees as high as the fencing. Mr. Stoner requested that the applicant use a black chain link fence. The applicant may have to come back when it is determined where the converters will be located as they will have to be installed within an enclosure or shed.

Meeting was opened to the public

Mr. Kirk Stevens, 97, 99 & 109 Sand Hill Road, came forward to comment that he is a 6th generation farmer and neighbor to the site and, while he feels the application is well intentioned, he is opposed to this application. He said the southern exposure is his exposure to the 200 acre family farm and they are currently working toward having a working farm. It is his sense that none of the neighbors favor this application. He has concerns whether the solar panels will be cleared of snow with chemicals. However, his primary concern is aesthetics. He feels Vernon’s Master Plan is geared towards promoting eco-tourism and this particular area is highlighted in the updated Master Plan as having “scenic significance.”

Bob Koch, Vero Beach, Florida, an employee of Sirius, came forward to affirm the comments made by Mr. Zaretsky with regard to the status of the easement approval by Sirius XM.

James Opfer, Esq. confirmed that all notice was given to all required neighbors to the site. Mr. Zaretsky advised Mr. Stevens that he is sensitive to the view shed from this site. However, something will be done with this property sooner or later as it is zoned light industrial and feels that this solar panel proposal would be the least destructive to the view shed. He also commented that snow will be removed by a device similar to a window squeegee. No chemicals will be used for snow removal.

Mr. Spoerl commented that if the landscaping includes two rows of trees, it won’t fit in the space allowed on the road side. Mr. Stoner commented that there is only 6 feet from the fence and 11 feet total allowed for landscaping on this map until you reach the first row of the solar array which is very tight.

(Front yard setback: is along Sand Hill Road and is the west)
(Rear yard setback is the eastern property line, opposite the front)

Mr. Stevens commented that he is uncomfortable with the direction this is taking. This is a postage stamp size piece of property being clear-cut to build it to the borders.

Meeting was closed to the public

Mr. Zaretsky commented that the project may be in the middle of farmland but the view shed is currently the satellite station. Mr. Spoerl added that his concern is of the view shed from Sand Hill Road more than anything else and wants it to be minimized.

The applicant confirmed that the proposal will be revised to include a 6 foot black vinyl fence, increase the front yard setback by 15 feet to allow for more staggered landscaping. As such, the front setback may have a 26' buffer. The rear setback will be 5 feet with 2 feet between the property line and the fence.

Ms. Kovach summarized that the LUB is voting on 4 variances tonight. They are 3 setback variances and a use variance.

Motion: Ms. Cocula made a motion to approve of the use variance to construct solar panels in the light industrial zone. Mr. Ferrer seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, SPOERL - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, HACK - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Motion: Ms. Cocula made a motion to approve of the (3) setback variances with the following conditions as summarized by Mr. Stoner:

  1. Landscape buffer be increased to 20 feet and will be the same height as the fencing and determine the growth height with Pellow & Associates.
  2. Obtain permits to cross Sirius property, environmental permits that maybe required, assurance that the noise produced will meet State requirements at the property line.
  3. Low growth grass will be planted under the panels.
  4. Approvals will be obtained from Sussex County Planning Board, Sussex County Soil Conservation, Vernon Construction Department, NJDEP, and Vernon Fire Department Official.
  5. Black vinyl fencing will be used.
  6. Minimum front yard setback will now be 26 feet (20 feet to the fence, 26 feet to the first row of panels). Side yard setbacks will continue to be a minimum of 12 feet. Minimum rear yard setback will be 7 feet.
  7. All electric will be underground unless the NJDEP requires it to be above ground.

Mr. Ferrer seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, SPOERL - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, HACK - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

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

No one came forward.

Closed meeting to the public

Resolutions

Appointing and retaining board attorney

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Attorney. Ms. Cocula seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Appointing and retaining board engineer

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Engineer. Ms. Cocula seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Appointing and retaining board planner

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Planner. Ms. Cocula seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Professional service agreements for attorney, engineer & planner

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Planner. Mr. Ferrer seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Land Use Board Discussion Items

Mr. Stoner commented that the LUB will be reviewing the new solar ordinance for comments.

Ms. Paladini suggested that the LUB members be diligent about attending site inspections whether on the scheduled date or by themselves.

Minutes

July 13, 2011 Reorganization Meeting Minutes

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Planner. Ms. Cocula seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

July 13, 2011 Regular Meeting Minutes

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion to approve of the appointment of the Board Planner. Mr. Ferrer seconded the motion. ROLL CALL: WEXLER - Y, COCULA - Y, FERRER - Y, PALADINI - Y, ROLANDO - Y, RAPERTO - Y.

Escrows, Board Fees and Bond Reductions

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Jennifer Kovach, Daggett, Kraemer, Kovach & Gjeslvik
      1. Land Use Board Business - ($0)
    2. Board Planner: Jessica Caldwell, Harold E. Pellow & 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: Cynthia Davis
      1. Services through 7/13/11 - ($41.25)
  2. Request for Escrows to be Closed
    1. None

Motion: Ms. Cocula made a motion and Ms. Paladini seconded the motion to accept the above Board Fees and escrows. All were in favor.

Adjournment

Motion: Ms. Paladini made a motion and Mr. Spoerl seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:01 p.m. All were in favor.

These minutes were transcribed by Cynthia Davis on August 5, 2011.