Vernon Township

21 Church Street, Vernon, NJ 07462
Phone: 973.764.4055


Minutes: March 20, 2023

Vernon Township Environmental Commission

March 20, 2023 General Meeting Minutes

Vernon Municipal Building, 7 PM

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by Chair Diane Wexler.

Diane read the Statement of Compliance. Diane then led the commissioners in the pledge of allegiance and salute to the flag.

Roll call was taken for attendance – present were:


Absent was CRAIG WILLIAMS, Vice Chair, Liaison to Land Use Board.

Approval of Minutes: August 15 and September 19, 2022; February 21, 2023

Diane Wexler advised that the August and September minutes from last year would have to be reapproved because they originally contained street addresses (now prohibited in public records by law). Diane indicated that she edited them to reflect these legal requirements. Catherina Sawoszczyk made a motion to approve the two sets of amended minutes and the February 21 minutes as presented; Bonnie Tadrick seconded the motion. All three sets of minutes were then approved by unanimous consent.


Diane Wexler opened the meeting to public comments.

Former environmental commissioner and current town council member Peg Distasi came forward to give an update on the Silver Spruce illegal dumping matter. She said that Joseph Wallace will be back in court on March 24 after a two-month delay, which was granted to allow both the defendant and the plaintiffs (the DEP and attorneys general) time to put together their cases as to why the judgement against Mr. Wallace should and should not stand, respectively.

Catherina Sawoszczyk inquired what happened to the warrant for Mr. Wallace’s arrest. Peg replied that he had been able to avoid and defer arrest for several years partially because of COVID, and partially because the case had been shuffled around between judges — landing with a judge who has given Mr. Wallace every break in the book. Peg indicated that this gives her considerable concern for the case going forward. She also mentioned that the state has yet to disburse the $100,000 grant for soil testing at the dumping ground, so no evaluation or clean-up has begun Peg stated that the site is worsening substantially and that Mr. Wallace continues to get away with multiple unauthorized uses of the property, despite some attempts at oversight by the DEP.


The Land Use Board report was not given at this time. 


Diane Wexler said that applications by Minerals to install a new pickleball court and by F.W. Webb to undertake part of their planned expansion project will be reviewed on Wednesday, March 22.


Diane Wexler opened up the floor to old business.

EPA/GREEN Electrification Grants:

Diane Wexler indicated that Craig Williams will report on this at the next environmental commission meeting.

Trails/ Grants: 

Peg Distasi advised the group that a proposal to apply for a county-sponsored grant to finance a possible recreational trail installation project had been removed from consideration by the mayor.

Septic Pumping:

Diane Wexler said that Craig Williams recently spoke to representatives of Highland Lakes about their community septic servicing idea, and told her that the plans were very enthusiastically received. She indicated that she needs to follow up with Barry Lakes representatives about a potential septic pumping agreement and partnership with them as well.

A side discussion about a previous agenda item — applying for grants to undertake environmental projects in the township — ensued at this time. Diane Wexler said that she had looped Peg Distasi into their communications to enlist her help with the township in getting commitments to apply for environmental grants. She said that Peg unfortunately was not able to prevail at this point, due to the costs involved with the grant application process. Diane stressed that grants will be critical to meeting necessary environmental benchmarks – especially with the township’s limited budget – and therefore can’t be considered optional. She said that she and Craig Williams will be working on updating and beefing up their existing dossier of grant application information and materials to resubmit for review and consideration. Jennifer Carlson offered her assistance.

Website updates:

Jennifer Carlson said that she previously circulated copy she had written for the township website about charging station grants for local business owners. Diane Wexler clarified for Jennifer the process through which the township accepts and places material for the website.

Diane Wexler mentioned that she was planning to submit information on the spotted lanternfly for inclusion on the website early this spring. Peg Distasi suggested that the commissioners take their public information campaign about the spotted lanternfly beyond the website, recommending that they send a letter to the town council asking the council members to make a public pronouncement about the spring spotted lanternfly season. Peg offered to get this matter on the agenda for an upcoming town council meeting. Bonnie Tadrick proposed that they make copies of Diane’s website materials available to people attending that meeting.

At this point in the meeting, a side discussion ensued on planning for spring cleanups and environmentally themed events in the township. The commissioners agreed to organize and publicize the commission’s customary Earth Day activities and a township cleanup day for May 1. Diane Wexler suggested that it would be optimal to get these events up the township website’s new calendar.


There was no new business to discuss at this time.


Diane Wexler opened the meeting to public comments.

Peg Distasi expressed her concern over the failing dam at Lake Wanda and the financial impact its rehabilitation will have on lake homeowners. She asked the commissioners to help her nudge the mayor and other town council members into assisting Lake Wanda homeowners with dam repair and lake reclamation and revitalization, and to add this matter to their next meeting agenda.

Diane then closed the meeting to the public.


There were no commissioner comments at this time.


Before adjourning, Diane Wexler reminded the commissioners that the next meeting will be held on Monday, April 17, 2023.

Diane Wexler asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Catherina motioned and Jennifer Carlson made and seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 7:42 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Leslie Boen, Recording Secretary


Vernon Township

21 Church Street
Vernon, NJ 07462

Phone: 973.764.4055 

Township Hours

Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Emergencies Dial 9-1-1
Non-Emergencies Dial 973-764-6155


Current Agendas

Township Council

Land Use Board