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 17, 2022, by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building.

Salute to the Flag

Vice Chairman Spoerl led the Assemblage to the flag.

Roll Call    Also Present
Mayor’s Designee John Auberger NP   Cory Stoner, Board Engineer
Craig Williams P   Jessica Caldwell, Board Planner
Councilmember Lynch P   Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary
Martin Theobald NP    
Richard Spoerl P    
Willard McPeek P    
Andrea Cocula P    
Michael Whitaker P    
Kelly Mitchell Alternate #1 P    
Joseph Tadrick Alternate #2 P    
Paul Mele Alternate #3 P    
Mark Vizzini Alternate #4 NP    

Record reflects that Mr. Theobald and Mr. Auberger notified the board of their absence.

Public Participation

Vice Chairman Spoerl opened the meeting to the public. Seeing no one 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)

Master Plan Reexamination

Ms. Caldwell stated that Municipal Land Use Law requires that each municipality prepare a reexamination of their Master Plan and development regulations at least every ten (10) years. There are four questions needed to be answered which includes: address major problems in municipality; have problems increased or decreased; change in policies to master plan; and make recommendations and revisions to overcome issues with Master Plan. Also, the Master Plan must include Redevelopment Law studies and Plans that have been changed or adopted.

Ms. Caldwell explained that Vernon Township adopted the last full Master Plan in 1995 with amendments made in following years to the Stormwater Management Plan, Land Use, Historic Preservation and Recycling Elements as well as the Housing Element and Fair Share Plan. The Master Plan was updated in 2013 due to recommendations by the Highlands Council regarding the Highlands Preservation area. Ms. Caldwell explained that although the Housing Element was updated in 2011, it remains an open-ended item which needs to be addressed. In 2021, the State Planning Commission approved the Township's petition for Plan Endorsement which included a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) requiring Master Plan Reexamination Report to incorporate the requirements of the Plan Implementation Agreement (PIA). Items to be updated are the Open Space/Recreation Plan, Climate Resiliency Plan; Housing Fair Share Plan, Conservation Plan; Circulation Plan; Farmland Preservation Plan and Ordinance recommendations.

Ms. Caldwell provided overview of Census data for Vernon Township since 2010 specifically noting population loss with median age being 43 years old. Median income has increased to $95,000 which continues to be higher than the State and County median incomes. She added with respect to Race, Vernon is less diverse than the State but like that of Sussex County. Ms. Caldwell stated that residents of the Township have access to high wage jobs in industry sectors such as construction, retail and trade services, scientific professions, administrative and tech services although significant percentage must commute longer that 30 minutes daily. She noted that Vernon should develop an updated Circulation Element that supports complete streets and improved walkability within the Township.

Regarding education in Vernon Township, enrollment numbers of students has decreased every year from 2010-2019, which Ms. Caldwell explained that the promotion of additional family housing and housing policies that result in increased numbers would not be a burden on the school districts. She added that creating a variety of housing types for purchase and rentals should continue to be a policy with the Township for sustainability as the number of vacant homes has decreased dramatically in 2021.

With respect to Affordable Housing, Ms. Caldwell stated the Township is behind meeting state requirements and needs to continue with updates to the Housing Element. Ms. Caldwell explained that 66% of Vernon is in the Highlands Preservation Area and 33% is in the Highlands Planning area which does not leave room for growth. With these constraints, the Township needs to focus on the Town Center area where public sewer and water are available as well as Redevelopment areas around Mountain Creek and Legends to promote economic development and tourism.

Ms. Caldwell listed the recommendations for updates needed to the Vernon Master Plan:

  • Smart Growth Plan
  • Stormwater Management Plan & Utilities Element
  • Natural Resource Inventory
  • Open Space Plan
  • Recreation Open Space Inventory
  • Circulation Plan
  • Water Use & Conservation Plan
  • Recycling Plan
  • Community Facilities Plan

Also required by the State Planning Commission are Amendments to Township Ordinances concerning Green Infrastructure, Stormwater Management, Bonding requirements, pet waste management and tree protection. Mr. Stoner added that although State statutes supersede local ordinances, Township should update their Ordinances to reflect current requirements. Board Members discussed Climate Change element and relationship to Flood Control and Dams within the Township. Mr. Stoner explained studies done by FEMA are used to produce Flood Maps and the Dams are inspected by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. Mr. Spoerl added that dams are inspected by the DEP and classified based on estimated property loss or loss of life.

Ms. Caldwell requested Board Members to send any questions or comments to her and recommended report be added to future agenda for approval.


January 12, 2022 - Reorganization Meeting Minutes (Auberger, Williams, Lynch, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Mitchell, Tadrick, Mele)

Motion: Motion to Approve Reorganization Minutes of January 12, 2022, was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Williams.

Motion passed.

January 12, 2022 - Regular Meeting Minutes (Auberger, Williams, Lynch, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Mitchell, Tadrick, Mele)

Motion: Motion to Approve Regular Minutes January 12, 2022, was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Williams.

Motion passed.


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

  1. Board Fees
    1. Board Attorney: Glenn Kienz, Weiner Law Group LLP
      1. Land Use Board Business - Services through 12/21/21 ($836.00)
      2. Daniel Bakay - LU# 11-21-9 - Services through 12/8/21 ($102.50)
    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: Motion to approve payment of fees was made by Mr. McPeek and was seconded by Mr. Mele. Board members were all in favor. Motion passed.


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

Meeting was adjourned at 7:47 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted
Irene Mills, Recording Secretary