Vernon Township

21 Church Street, Vernon, NJ 07462
Phone: 973.764.4055


Minutes September 14, 2022




September 14, 2022


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

 Mayor’s Designee John Auberger  P
 Craig Williams   P
 Councilmember Brian Lynch  NP
 Martin Theobald  NP
 Richard Spoerl  P
 Willard McPeek  NP
 Andrea Cocula  P
 Michael Whitaker  P
 Jacquelin Haley  P
 Kelly Mitchell Alternate #1   P
 Joseph Tadrick   Alternate #2  NP
 Paul Mele Alternate #3  NP
  Mark Vizzini Alternate #4   NP


Also Present:

Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary

Vice Chairman Spoerl stated Council Member Lynch and Board Members McPeek, Vizzini, Mele and Theobald notified the Board of their absence.



                  Land Conservancy Of New Jersey - Open Space And Recreation Plan   



Barbara Heskins Davis, Licensed Planner and Vice President of Programs with Land Conservancy came forward to present the Open Space and Recreation Plan Update for Vernon Township.  Record reflects that visual projector was inoperable and Ms. Davis verbally presented update to Board Members.

Ms. Heskins Davis stated reasons for Vernon to update the Open Space Plan include existing Plan is out of date; the update will provide the municipality with an active Open Space Plan good for ten years and eligible for funds through the Green Acres Program for the Township and other Non-profit organizations.  She added the update is supported by the Highlands Council through the town’s Plan Conformance Grant.

Ms. Heskins Davis stated it is good that Vernon Township is updating the Farmland Preservation Plan at the same time as the Open Space Plan as the State favors Plans done on a consistent basis.  She added the draft Open Space Plan is a good practical document very understandable to a lay person. 

Ms. Heskins Davis explained one of the main goals of the Open Space Plan is to Protect and Connect which Vernon Township has recently accomplished by preserving two properties to connect existing parks and trails or greenways to each other.  Ms. Heskins Davis explained being a Good Steward through land management or preservation and park development is a good practice for sustainability of natural resources and historical sites.  Ms. Heskins Davis added the Open Space Plan promotes a healthy lifestyle for residents and visitors through four-season tourism and allows for outside funding for acquisitions.

Ms. Heskins Davis explained that Vernon in 2002 collected an Open Space tax from residents and prioritized goals to use the funds for preservation and more recently for Recreation site maintenance.  She added that Sussex County has trail grant funding available and is currently looking for applicants to support County initiatives which is a good opportunity for Vernon.

Ms. Heskins Davis noted the preservation of the municipality’s natural beauty, landscape, and history as living parts of the community contribute to maintaining the town’s high quality of life.

Recommendations of the Plan include protecting the agricultural land that supports the farmer and farming heritage and historic sites.  She added the Plan includes information on the State Farm Preservation program and how qualification rules in 2009 changed for farmers.  Ms. Heskins Davis stated the Plan includes a map of properties, over 200 acres, regarding protection of forest, climate, watershed properties which is farmland assessed but not tilled.  She added, in 2005, the Land Conservancy received a grant of modeling how properties rank for potential of water quality and quantity and if identified in Sussex Plan, grant funds would be available for Vernon sites.  The Plan includes recommendations of Recreation and Trails, specifically the Township Greenway, Pump Track and Trail linking to the Police Athletic League site and how it promotes a healthy lifestyle and outdoor ethic.    

Ms. Haskins Davis addressed the Board Members if they have questions and noted after the Public Comments, the Board can adopt update to the Master Plan at future meeting.   Questions posed included quantity of watershed sites in neighboring towns.  Ms. Haskins Davis explained watershed sites are located in West Milford, Ringwood and others and pose unique challenges for townships.  Mr. Williams stated he understands the balance of need to maintain tax roles as well attention to harmful development. He added the Plan includes important details on sources of potential funding, identified watershed sites and how state, county and municipalities work toward same goals. 

Ms. Haskins Davis explained that Farmland Preservation is owner driven with no change in the tax rate but restricts future use while Open Space is removed from tax roles. She added that the Board of Education properties, while not Township owned, are included in the Plan because they are used for Township recreational purposes.  Ms. Mitchell noted the Board of Ed offered to sell the site of the current garden/dog park to the Township, but offer was declined. Ms. Haskins Davis noted that some parks in Essex County utilize non-profit 501c3 organizations as well as the municipality to obtain double amount of funding.  Mr. Williams noted the Land Conservancy did outstanding detailed work on the completion of the Open Space and Recreation Plan for Vernon Township.

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 Members had no further questions.

Public Hearings

Vice Chairman Spoerl stated application for LU#8-22-8 could not be heard because legal notice was incorrect and will be re-noticed to be heard at next Land Use Board meeting.


  • LU# 8-22-8 – Veolia Water New Jersey – Block 463, Lot 127, - Major Site Plan and Variance for the construction of a new underground chamber to house a PFAS treatment center and above grade emergency power generator set in a sound attenuated enclosure


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. 




Area in need of Redevelopment Study – Block 525, Lot 19, - 161 New Jersey Route 94

            Eligible to vote: Lynch, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Haley, Tadrick, Mele


Motion: Motion to Approve Resolution for Area in Need Of Redevelopment Study was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker.


Motion Passed.



  • August 24, 2022 – Regular Meeting Minutes (Lynch, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Haley, Tadrick, Mele, Theobald)

Board Member Williams stated that at the Meeting of August 24, 2022, it was not stated that he had notified the Board Secretary of his absence and asked that it be added to the record.


Motion: Motion to Approve the Minutes of August 24, 2022 was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Whitaker. All eligible Members were in favor.

Motion Passed.

Appendix A – escrows, board fees, bond reductions and escrow closure


   escrows, board fees and bond reductions

 A. Board Fees

   1. Board Attorney – Glenn Kienz, Weiner Law Group LLP

  • Land Use Board Business – ($0)

   2. Board Planner – Jessica Caldwell, J. Caldwell & Associates

  • Land Use Board Business – Services Through 8/10/22 ($125.00)
  • Waheguru Gas – LU# 3-22-2 – Services Through 8/26/22 ($625.00)
  • Veolia – LU# 6-22-6 – Services Through 8/25/22 ($500.00)
  • HM GG – LU# 8-21-7 – Services Through 8/24/22 ($1,105.00)

  3. Board Engineer – Cory Stoner, Harold E. Pellow & Associates

  • Land Use Board Business – Services Through 7/13/22 ($135.00)
  • ABBD III – LU# 3-22-4 – Services Through 7/7/22 ($104.50)
  • John Kelly – LU# 6-22-6 – Services Through 7/8/22 ($339.63)
  1. Board Recording Secretary – Irene Mills ($75.00)

Motion: Motion to Approve Payment of Fees was made by Mr. Whitaker and was seconded by Ms. Mitchell.  Board Members were All in Favor.  Motion Passed.


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

Meeting was adjourned at 7:36 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted                       

Irene Mills, 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