Chairperson Beverly Budz 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 January 13, 2015 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
Jessi Paladini, Recording Secretary
1. Open Meeting to Public
Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Alyssa Portaro.
Seconded by Doreen Edwards
All were in favor.
2. Close Meeting to the Public
Seeing no one come forward, Chairwoman Beverly Budz moved to close the meeting to the public.
Doreen Edwards seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
3. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler was absent. Chairwoman Beverly Budz asked recording secretary Jessi Paladini, who is a member of the land use board, if she could report anything. She noted that Taco Bell had a pending application before the board for a restaurant on Route 94, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts. She spoke of Mayor Victor Marotta having asked Taco Bell to create a common entrance to relive traffic issues currently at the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant. She said the Taco Bell applicant seemed willing to do that and would address it at the next LUB meeting. She said the 1850s Campbell House that sits on the property currently would be razed to construct the Taco Bell. The structure is not a designated township landmark, however.
4. Applications Under Review
A. LU #6-15-7 Joel Schlesinger, Front Yard Pool
The property is in the Highlands Preservation Zone. The applicant seeks to construct an in-ground pool and cabana in the front yard of his 11-acre property. Chairwoman Beverly Budz said the applicant got an exemption from the Highlands Council for the pool. The environmental commission had no concerns or recommendations concerning this application.
B. LU4-6-15-5: MNA Vernon Realty, Taco Bell, Final Site Plan with Variance
The application is for a Taco Bell restaurant to be constructed on Route 94, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts. The commission will further review the application at its next meeting but had no concerns at this time.
5. Old Business
A. Three-Minute Idle Law Signs
Beverly Budz reported that eight Three-Minute Idle Law signs were put up in Maple Grange Park. Other signs will soon go up in different areas of the township as well, including possibly at Mountain Creek. This is an awareness campaign of the law that the environmental commission began working on about two years ago. The commission is putting up the signs to inform residents on the state law limiting idling. New Jersey has a three-minute idle law. New Jersey is among the highest states for carbon emissions, and making residents aware of the law helps to cut down on unnecessary carbon emission. Respiratory illnesses, including asthma, are very high in the state, Beverly Budz said. She said she is happy that Vernon Township is one of the first towns in the state to bring awareness to the law through signage and hopes other towns will follow our lead in putting up signs.
B. Medicine Wheel
Beverly Budz spoke about possibly putting a medicine wheel on the prehistoric Indian site at Black Creek. The medicine wheel, an herb garden, would be in conjunction with the township historical society and the $13,000 grant the society received from the state for interpretive signage at the historic site. The environmental commission is consulting with local Lenape Indians, including Chief Dwayne Perry of the Ramapough Lunaape Tribe, in the creation of the herb and indigenous plant garden at the site.
6. New Business
Completion of the Forestry Grant
Chairwoman Beverly Budz reported that she completed the grant for $354,960 from the department of forestry for the purpose of buying and planting trees in the township in lieu of the many trees lost to the construction of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The trees from the grant do not replace the lost trees. The pipeline company has the responsibility to replace them. The money from the grant is for trees in addition to the ones lost. The department of public works will plant and maintain the trees from the forestry grant.
The township lost approximately 60,000 trees as a result of the pipeline construction. Much of the trees the pipeline company planted have already been lost. This grant will provide for the planting of about 1,183 trees for Vernon Township over the next three years. Planting will begin in the third week in September. The first trees will be planted at the township recycling center and the community garden and dog park on Dorfred Terrace. The trees planted in those areas will mostly be arborvitae.
Commission member Doreen Edwards expressed concern about arborvitae because deer are very attracted to them. Beverly Budz said they are a deer resistant variety, but they will still need to be sprayed with something that will repel deer. Doreen Edwards cautioned to make sure they are a deer resistant variety before accepting the trees.
Beverly Budz said she made the grant open-ended. The pipeline company was supposed to restore all the lost trees by the third season, and we are now in the third season. The environmental commission got a previous grant last year in lieu of the loss from the pipeline project and planted 100 trees. She said the pipeline company would be held responsible for its deforestation in Vernon. She said they ruined the wetlands at Wawayanda State Park with their pipeline project. She said the commission would do a site visit of the company’s tree planting by the pipeline company. She said volunteers are also needed to help plant and fertilize the trees.
7. Approval of Minutes
July 14, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Alyssa Portaro and seconded by Doreen Edwards.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Alyssa Portaro, and Beverly Budz
9. Commissioner Comments
Doreen Edwards started a discussion stating her concern about the arborvitae shrubs that are being purchased with the forestry grant money. She said someone needs to ensure that they are the deer resistant variety the commission said it would purchase before accepting the shrubs. If they are not deer resistant the shrubs should be refused, she said.
Doreen Edwards also asked about the status of the environmental commission’s recommendation to the land use board regarding the application by Daniel Kadish. The recording secretary said the environmental commission’s recommendation to the land use board concerning the application was delivered as written by the commission. Chairwoman Beverly Budz read the recommendation to the land use board at its last meeting.
Alyssa Portaro said she is leaving tomorrow for a trip across the country. She is driving and will be visiting many national parks along the way. She is traveling a southern route and looks forward to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, northern California, kayaking and hiking in Vancouver, and will spend a lot of time in Colorado. She is traveling alone. She hopes to bring back reports of her scenic trip at the commission’s meeting next month. The commissioners told her to be careful and have a great trip.
Beverly Budz commented on the deer resistant arborvitae they will purchase with the forestry grant. Besides the fact that they are deer resistant, she said the DPW would also be spraying all the shrubs with a systemic mixture of cayenne pepper to make the shrubbery less appetizing to the deer.
Beverly Budz also discussed the gypsy moth egg count conducted by the state department of agriculture. She was going to speak with the department of agriculture, but has not spoken with them or with the township or the Highland Lakes residents who came to the last environmental commission meeting asking for the township to do a spraying because of the gypsy moth devastation this year.
Alyssa Portaro said Jamie Rickey just broke the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world’s largest dreamcatcher, which was made by an artist who is staying on the Rickey farm.
Doreen Edwards moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:55 p.m. Beverly Budz seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the environmental commission will be on September 8, 2015.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted September 8, 2015