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
Ken Dolsky of Parsippany, a leader in the opposition to the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, did a presentation to the environmental commission on the potential dangers and environmental hazards of the pipeline. The proposed 178-mile pipeline would transport Bakken crude oil from Albany, NY, to Linden, NJ, where it would then be refined and sent out to customers. The oil would be coming from North Dakota by train.
There were already several train crashes and explosions in recent months, Mr. Dolsky said. He said about a year ago there was an 85,000-gallon spill. The only thing responders can do when there is a fire is to let it burn out, he said. If constructed, the pipeline would run through the Highlands and over a number of sole source aquifers that are the drinking water sources for millions of people. He identified three risks: 1) pipeline leaks that could get into the water supplies, 2) detriment to property values of homes along the pipeline route, 3) health risks from the toxic and carcinogen materials. He said crude oil is very harmful to pregnant women and unborn fetuses.
There is no value to any municipality the pipeline goes through, only risks Mr. Dolsky said. He has done his presentation to multiple governing bodies and environmental commissions, asking their support in adopting a resolution to oppose the construction of the pipeline. New Jersey municipalities that have adopted resolutions opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline include Berkeley Heights, Bloomingdale, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Clark, Cranford, East Hanover, Fanwood, Florham Park, Kinnelon, Livingston, Madison, Mahwah, Millburn, Montville, Oakland, New Providence, Parsippany, Pequannock, Passaic County Freeholders, Pompton Lakes, Rahway, Riverdale, Roseland, Rochelle Park, South Orange, Watchung, West Orange, Westfield, and Woodbridge. A number of neighboring Orange County, NY, municipalities also adopted a resolution opposing the pipeline. The state Assembly voted 55-4 to oppose the construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline. It has not gotten to the Senate floor yet. Mr. Dolsky said he would be happy to go before the Vernon Township Mayor and council to discuss the proposed pipeline.
Mr. Dolsky said Bakken crude oil is highly explosive and toxic, and moving this fuel by barge, rail, or pipeline could result in significant public health and environmental impacts. He asked the Vernon Township Environmental Commission to support the opposition to the pipeline and adopt a resolution memorializing the opposition.
2. Open Meeting to Public
Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Doreen Edwards.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
All were in favor.
No one from the public came forward.
3. Close Meeting to Public
Motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
All were in favor.
4. Land Use Board Liaison Report
Diane Wexler discussed the use variance for a motorcycle repair and sales shop on Vernon Crossing Road by applicant Edward J. Malec.
5. Applications Under Review
Use Variance—Motorcycle Repair and Sales Shop, LU#2-15-1
Vernon Crossing Road, Applicant—Edward J. Malec
The environmental commission had no objections and no concerns about the application, saying all environmental concerns are already regulated by state and county agencies.
6. Old Business
Discussion on Bear-Proof Container Resolution
Chairwoman Beverly Budz said the commission has been discussing whether or not to support the proposed legislation that mandates bear-proof garbage containers in areas high in bear population. She said while she would like to see everyone use the bear-proof cans, she does not believe it should be a government mandate to require citizens to spend upwards of $75 per garbage can, particularly when most homes need two of them. She would like to see more or better enforcement for residential and commercial garbage that is not properly contained.
Diane Wexler agreed people should not be forced to buy the expensive cans and said they are not “pop proof” and the lids do sometimes come off by aggressive bears.
The commissioners unanimously agreed not to take any action on the proposed legislation mandating the bear-proof garbage cans. The commissioners agreed instead to begin an awareness campaign and education. The existing township garbage ordinances already contain language on enforcement, she said. The commissioners agreed they should draft their own resolution that deals with greater compliance and enforcement. They also agreed to invite Vernon Police Chief Randy Mills or his representative on the police force to come to the April environmental commission meeting to discuss the subject. They also discussed creating a handout that could be given out at the township clerk’s and land use offices and also hand them out at Earthfest on April 26, 2015.
7. New Business
A. Pilgrim Pipeline
After hearing the presentation by Ken Dolsky, the commissioners unanimously adopted the resolution to oppose the construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline.
Motion to approve the resolution was made by Beverly Budz.
Seconded by Diane Wexler
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Diane Wexler, Beverly Budz
B. Review Maps of Potential Sites for Planting Trees from Forestry Grant
The commission discussed and reviewed a number of potential sites where trees could be planted from the $345,000 grant the environmental commission is receiving from the New Jersey forestry department in lieu of trees lost due to the construction of the Tennessee Pipeline that goes through the township. The grant is not intended to replace trees that were lost as a result of the pipeline; that is the pipeline company’s responsibility. The grant is to purchase and plant additional trees within the township. Chairwoman Budz said that from the last forestry grant the environmental commission received last year, 102 trees were planted throughout the township and only one tree was lost as a result of being hit by a truck. All of the others are thriving. She commended the township DPW for the great job it did in planting and maintaining the trees. In addition to discussing planting sites, the commissioners discussed the types of trees they would purchase with the new grant. Those varieties include Red Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Winterberry, Eastern Elm, Pine, Cedar, Birch, Elderberry, American Chestnut, Elm, Spruce, Hemlocks, and Arborvitaes. Chairwoman Budz suggested inviting Chief Dwayne Perry of the Ramapough Lenape Indians for consultation on the types of trees to plant at the Black Creek New Jersey Register of Historic Places Indian Site on Maple Grange Road. She will contact Chief Perry.
8. Approval of Minutes
February 10, 2015 Regular Meeting Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes was made by Doreen Edwards and seconded by Diane Wexler.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Doreen Edwards, Diane Wexler, and Beverly Budz
9. Commissioner Comments
Chairwoman Beverly Budz said Earthfest would be held on April 27 this year. The environmental commission first originated Earthfest in the township and has participated every year. She asked the commissioners to consider what they should feature at Earthfest this year and suggested possibly buying seedlings to hand out as well. That was very popular the last time they gave them out. She will put Earthfest on the agenda of next month’s meeting for discussion.
Commissioner Doreen Edwards said she was in on a conference call with the DEP regarding permit review. She asked Matt Smith of the National Non-Profit Food & Water Watch, who took notes of the conference, to send her his notes so she could also pass them along to the commission members.
Doreen Edwards also said she heard that morning on one of the network news shows on television that New York City is having a problem with too many cars idling, and New York officials are now discussing better enforcement of the Three-Minute Idle Law. The commissioners said they would continue to work on an awareness campaign in the township. Vernon Police Chief Randy Mills is enthusiastic to work on the campaign with the commission.
Beverly Budz moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:56 p.m. Doreen Edwards seconded the motion. All were in favor.
The next meeting of the Environmental Commission will be on April 14, 2015.
Transcribed by Jessica Paladini
Adopted April 15, 2015