Vernon Township

21 Church Street, Vernon, NJ 07462
Phone: 973.764.4055


Minutes April 12, 2023




April 12, 2023



Call to Order

Meeting was called to order by Chairman Theobald 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, 2023, by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the Municipal Building.

Salute to the Flag

Chairman Theobald led the assemblage of the Flag.


Roll Call


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

Also Present:

Steve Tombalakian, Board Attorney

Cory Stoner, Board Engineer

Allison Kopsco, Board Planner

Kimberley Decker, Board Secretary


Record reflects that Mr. Tadrick, Mr. McPeek and Mr. Heftler notified the Board of their absence.


Public Hearings


Ø  PB# 2-91-4 – Mountain Creek Resort – 2023 Master Plan Update

Board Engineer Stoner explained Mountain Creek is required to present an annual summary and review of operations before the Land Use Board per a 1992 Resolution which approved an overall Master Plan in order to update Township of any changes.

Evan Kovach, General Manager of Mountain Creek, and Matthew Carter Vice President of Mountain Operations came forward to present the 2023 Master Plan Update.

Mr. Kovach explained updated items per map plans submitted:

  • #3 pathway lighting on map is no longer operational
  • #16 per previous approval, snow tubing was relocated across RT 94 for safety concerns. Mountain Creek is currently exploring movement of snow tubing to parking lot area behind Cobblestone Village where tubing was in the early 2000’s which has more room and better topography. Will come before Board when plans are decided.
  • Removing river raft ride
  • #36 no longer operational
  • #5 on list was added as future project but will not be completed this year
  • #60 researching construction of new kid’s pool attraction for opening 2024 to be placed where existing pool infrastructure is located. There will be no significant impacts to existing operations.
  • #61 The bathroom welcome center will not be constructed in 2023
  • #62 will install a flagpole with lighting per American Flag rules and guidelines
  • #63 future kids interactive play area for all four seasons but no movement in 2023

Mr. Kovach stated Mountain Creek purchased the lot with church adjacent to South Lodge. Improvements to lot include demolition of building, numerous trees will be removed, fence installed to join to South Lodge property and addition of landscaping to beautify property. He added there are no plans for development on this lot at this time.

Mr. Kovach explained that Mountain Creek has changed the philosophy by eliminating the parking fee and rolling it into admission cost to improve traffic circulation through site and avoid backups. Attendants will be present to maintain lot control and police will be utilized for crosswalks at South Lodge and Sandhill Road. He added recent drop off improvements to the Cobblestone lot have worked out great for smoother flow of traffic. Additional signage has been added to the lot side of the RT 94 fencing to inform visitors that illegal crossing of RT 94 is subject to fines. He noted the Snow box, although treated as temporary, is still being utilized, Mountain Creek is working to develop new snowmaking master plan.

Mr. Kovach stated Mountain Creek has made necessary improvements to bridge crossing over RT 94 per Inspection Report and is working on five-year maintenance during off season months.

Board had no further questions for Mountain Creek presentation.


Ø  LU# 1-23-1 – Minerals Resort & Spa SPE LLC – Block 527, Lot 1, - Preliminary & Final Site Plan with Variances for proposed construction of pickle ball courts


Bernd Hefele, Esq. came forward on behalf of applicant for approval of proposed construction of three pickle ball courts at Minerals Hotel located in a commercial recreation (CR) zone. He explained Minerals Hotel is a tourist destination known for skiing, sports activities and spa for residents and guests. Applicant is requesting preliminary and final site plan to construct three pickle ball courts with variances needed for impervious coverage and building coverage.

Art Walton, Vice President Golf Operations and Recreation was sworn in to testify for application. Mr. Walton explained Minerals currently has golf, climbing wall, foot golf, swimming, spa and must keep adding innovative activities, like pickle ball, to keep up with competition for the residents and guests. In the outdoor recreation area, other activities present include trapeze, archery, ax throwing, goat yoga with petting zoo. The proposed pickle ball will be open to booking privileges to members and the general public during hours from 9:00 am –9:00 pm similar to other sports. The court lighting will be customized to Pickle Ball and shut off when activities close.

Mr. Walton stated the proposed pavilion will be 16’ft. x 24’ft. in size, with architectural design matching hotel, having four picnic tables, and will be used by guests waiting on games.


Tom Graham, PE, with valid NJ license was sworn in to testify on behalf of applicant. He stated application is to construct three pickle ball courts on Block 527 Lot 1 in the CR zone, on 15.2 acres on site which includes Minerals Spa, Hotel, pools, golf, and other recreational activities. Mr. Graham described Exhibit A-1, aerial photo of site noting proposed location of three 30ft x 60ft regulation pickle ball courts with specific sport lighting and one 16ft x 24ft pavilion. The location will be between existing hotel and RT 94 Stonehill right-of-way meeting front yard setback, lighting, and height criteria per Township code. He added the property has three front yards and court site is behind the furthest projection of the principal structure. Board Members discussed issue of location in front yard but agreed courts will not be visible from RT 94 and no variance will be required for accessory structure in front yard.

Mr. Graham explained two variances are requested for maximum building coverage where 10 % is required, 13.7% is existing and 15.8% is proposed; and for maximum impervious coverage where 25% is required, 32.2% is existing and 33.2% is proposed. He added agency approvals will be required from Soil Conservation and Township Construction department.

Mr. Stoner stated soil tests for system design of seepage pits will be required. He noted that lighting plan for pavilion was not included but if added to plan, there should be no negative impact to area.

Mr. Walton added recreational lighting specific to pickle ball will be added pointing inward to courts and agreed per Board recommendation to add light shields. Board members questioned how guests enter courts. Mr. Walton stated guests park near spa and walk around building on path to courts and other recreation activities.

Chairman Theobald opened the meeting to the Public. Seeing no one coming forward, Chairman Theobald closed the hearing to the public.  

Motion: Motion to Approve LU#1-23-1 as presented with two variances as noted was made by Ms. Cocula and seconded by Mr. Mele.


Motion Passed.

Ø  LU# 1-22-1 – Bright Horizons Development, LLC – Block 403, Lot 4, - Amended Final Site Plan for 55 and over rental apartments

Board Member Auberger stepped down from hearing application due to conflict.

Lauran O’Neill, Attorney came forward on behalf of applicant requesting approval for Amended Final Site Plan for 55 and over rental apartments due to changes in ADA and Building codes since previous approval. David Getz, Licensed Engineer, valid in NJ, came forward on behalf of applicant, was sworn in and presented two exhibits A-1, 2014 colored rendering and A-2, 2023 colored rendering.

Mr. Getz explained the current proposed building is longer and due to constraints, it would not be practical to increase impervious coverage for stormwater concerns. Proposal contains fewer outside parking spaces but three more spaces on the ground floor of the structure while maintaining same number of 55 units.

Mr. Getz explained the existing lighting plan will be updated per Township Ordinance requirements. The stormwater plan coverage is identical to reflect the current layout and a Stormwater Manual will be filed with the Township by the owner.

Regarding the Planner report by Jessica Caldwell dated April 6, 2023, applicant will address the following:

o   #9C – additional landscaping or screening will be added

o   #10 – the wooden stockade fencing previously approved but now prohibited will be replaced with alternative for compliance with Ordinance.

o   #11 – parking spaces will be including fifteen (15) Make Ready, five (5) EV and one (1) ADA E spaces to be shown on revised plans

o   #12A – due to limited constraints on site, there is one-way circulation which may not meet code

o   Garbage area will be revised to have three walls and locking mechanism to prevent animals entering area.

o   Proposed Signage is located on Sheet 2 of plans and will meet Town Center regulations of 30 sq ft maximum

o   Lighting plan draft was submitted but will be adjusted as needed to comply with Town Center regulations.

Mr. Getz explained the original application had total of 55 parking spaces approved by variance and the amended plan will have 58 total spaces which will still require a variance. Mr. Vizzini expressed concern about grading near front doors may not be ADA compliant which Mr. Getz agreed to review slope calculations.

Nadil Mijalli, Certified Architect, license valid in NJ came forward on behalf of applicant to testify regarding report by Board Engineer Stoner dated April 10, 2023. Mr. Mijalli explained 2013 approval included mix of studio and one-bedroom units but due to market demand proposal will include 55 one-bedroom units. He described Exhibits A-3 and A-4 showing colored rendering of units and property elevations. Building color will be grey with white with trim and cultured stone per Town Center standards.

Ms. O’Neill stated the owner has a will-serve letter from Veolia for water supply enough to sustain the units of the proposed building. She added the owner did not apply for Affordable Housing due to market demand. If approved, Applicant plans to break ground before Labor Day this year and will meet with Township Council and Mayor for Developer’s Agreement if required.

Chairman Theobald opened the hearing to the Public. Seeing no one wishing to come forward, Chairman Theobald closed the hearing to the Public.

Ms. Mitchell expressed concern for overflow parking due to no public transportation within Vernon Township. Board members discussed possibility of additional parking needed per condition of approvals or option to for plans to include bank spaces so as to not compromise stormwater requirements.

Ms. O’Neill explained applicant added three more spaces than were previously approved by variance in 2013 and the issue of parking will not be a problem based on comparative buildings. Board approved requiring an additional ten spaces. Ms. O’Neill added the applicant is amenable to research a creative solution by utilizing nearby lot also owned by applicant.

After further Board discussion, Ms. O’Neill agreed for five additional spaces on site plus proposed three spaces on ground floor for total of sixty-three (63) as long as impervious coverage is not compromised.

Chairman Theobald opened the hearing to the Public.

Sean Clarkin, public, commented that surveys of other similar 55+ properties should be gathered to obtain estimated spaces needed.

Seeing no one further wishing to come forward, Chairman Theobald closed the hearing to the Public.

Ms. O’Neill summarized testimony that applicant is requesting approval of Amended Final Site Plan with modified building design due to changes in ADA and building codes. Applicant will comply with the Board Engineer and Board Planner’s requirements as presented including lighting, signage, dumpster refacing, EV parking and showing five parking spaces on pervious pavement so not to impact stormwater design. The building will be ADA compliant with color and design compliant to Town Center standards.

Motion: Motion to Approve LU#1-22-1 with conditions as noted was made by Ms. Cocula and seconded by Mr. Mele.


Motion Passed.

Mr. Auberger returned to the meeting

Public Participation


Chairman Theobald opened the Meeting to the Public.

Joe Janec, Sussex part of Vernon, came forward to request permission to add third accessory structure to his property due to personal family reasons. He explained Town Ordinance does not allow three accessory structures on a residential lot and the Zoning Officer would not approve his permit. Attorney Tombalakian explained that the Land Use Board hears planning and variance applications submitted to the Township following Municipal Land Use Law. Mr. Janec stated the expense of application was over $3000.00. Mr. Stoner suggested option of configuring the existing structures or attaching one to the principal structure to comply with the Ordinance and if not, a variance would be needed.

Attorney Tombalakian explained a variance grants relief from the Township Ordinance and an application requires legal notice, public hearing, and suggested Mr. Janec obtain professional assistance for guidance. Chairman Theobald stated the Land Use Board cannot approve request without an application and suggested he see Zoning Officer with sketch of the proposal.

Seeing no one further wishing to come forward, Chairman Theobald closed the meeting to the Public.




LU# 2-23-2 – FW Webb/Vintage Clothes, LLC – Block 391, Lot 11, - Preliminary & Final Site Plan to install a concrete storage pad in the rear yard of the lot

Resolution was carried to future meeting until all details are finalized.




Ø  March 22, 2023 – Regular Meeting Minutes (Auberger, Williams, Tadrick, Spoerl, McPeek, Cocula, Whitaker, Haley, Heftler)

Motion: Motion to Approve Regular Minutes of March 22, 2023, was made by Ms. Cocula and was seconded by Mr. Williams.


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

Ø  Land Use Board Business – Services Through 2/17/23 ($442.00)

Ø  Bright Horizons, LLC – LU# 1-22-1 – Services Through 2/27/23 ($22.50)

Ø  Sussex Cultivation, LLC – LU# 2-23-4 – Services Through 2/27/23 ($45.00)

Ø  FW Webb – LU# 2-23-2 - Services Through 2/16/23 ($90.50)

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

Ø  Land Use Board Business – ($0)

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

Ø Land Use Board Business – Services Through 1/11/23 ($135.00)

Ø  Theodore Renka – LU# 12-21-10 – Services Through 2/24/23 ($345.00)

Ø  Minerals Resort & Spa – LU# 1-23-1 – Services Through 2/6/23 ($660.00)

Ø  Sussex Cultivation, LLC – LU# 2-23-4 – Services Through 2/24/23 ($324.75)


4.      Board Recording Secretary – Irene Mills ($75.00)

Board Engineer Stoner stated billing of $345.00 was for application LU#1-22-1 Bright Horizons and not Theodore Renka.


Motion: Motion to Approve Payment of Fees as revised was made by Mr. Whitaker and was seconded by Mr. Williams. 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. Auberger and was seconded by Mr. Mele. All Members were in favor.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:19 pm.

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