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June 21, 2021
MEMBERS PRESENT: Mrs. Emmetts, Mrs. Tracey, Mr. Dvorsky, Mrs. Branagan, Mr. Svendsen (Zoom), Mr. Branagan
MEMBERS ABSENT: Mr. Szabo, Ms. Kral
Mr. Branagan called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. with the statement that this meeting is in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act. This was a regularly scheduled meeting of the Stillwater Township Environmental Commission. Regular meetings are held on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Stillwater Township Municipal Building located in Middleville, New Jersey.
The flag was saluted and roll call taken.
Mrs. Branagan made a motion to approve the minutes of 5/10/21, seconded by Mrs. Tracey.
Mrs. Emmetts made a motion to approve the following bills, pending availability of funds, seconded by Mrs. Tracey:
Mr. Svendsen joined the meeting via Zoom.
At this point, this portion of the meeting was opened to the public at 7:07 p.m.
John Neumann, Fairview Lake Watershed Conservation Foundation and Marc Koch, YMCA Executive Director, were present. Mr. Neumann provided a background on protecting the lake from algae and cyanobacteria blooms. A professional has recommended the use of Biochar, a specially made charcoal.
Mr. Neumann indicated there has not been a single objection by Fairview Lake residents in opposition to the use of Biochar.
Mr. Neumann asked the Environmental Commission for their approval as a stakeholder to treat the lake to protect against a bloom. The funding is currently in place. The Biochar will be deployed in 55 bags throughout the lake and streambeds entering the lake, and also at the Blair Creek inflow. The bags will be anchored using a buoy or rope. The Biochar is currently being used in Lake Hopatcong and is made from various types of wood, manufactured without oxygen and without pollution. The Biochar absorbs excess phosphorus from the lake and limits the ability of a bloom to develop by starving the algae and cyanobacteria. The bags are made from a stocking cotton material. Mr. Svendsen expressed concern with the disposing of the bags, noting that in the environmental business, charcoal, carbon that has absorbed phosphorus, is considered to be hazardous and may need NJDEP approval for disposal. Disposing of the bags may be very costly. He suggested inquiring with Lake Hopatcong on their procedure and also contacting the NJDEP.
Mr. Branagan stated the stream on Fairview Lake Road that is a part of the EC water testing may enter Fairview Lake. He will email the water testing results to Mr. Neumann for comparison.
Mr. Neumann stated he contacted the National Park Service for their input but they could not take a position on the matter as it did not affect them.
EC members expressed further concern with the disposal of possibly hazardous material. Mr. Neumann stated he would research the matter and get an answer although it would not be right away. He agreed to commit to any disposal regulations, noting the NJDEP is using Biochar themselves.
After further discussion, Mrs. Emmetts made a motion to approve the use of Biochar on Fairview Lake with the condition that if material proves to be hazardous through testing, it will be properly disposed of according to NJDEP regulations, seconded by Mr. Branagan.
Roll Call Vote: Mrs. Emmetts, yes, Mrs. Tracey, yes, Mr. Dvorsky, yes, Mr. Svendsen, yes, Mrs. Branagan, yes, Mr. Branagan, yes
There being no further members of the public wishing to speak, this portion of the meeting was closed at 7:47 p.m.
-E. Szabo, NJH, 5/16/21, “An Obama scientist debunks the climate doom-mongers”
2021 Beautification Project:
Mr. Branagan will contact the new Zoning Officer Tom Dixon to introduce himself and discuss the project.
Fishing Line Collection: All line is to be cleaned of litter/leaves, hooks and lead sinkers. Lead sinkers are to be provided at the meeting for recycling.
Fairview Lake & Watershed Conservation Foundation Meeting:
Mr. Branagan and Mrs. Tracey attended the meeting on May 25th.
-Mr. Dvorsky for his attendance at three webinars. (I-mapping, vehicle charging stations and plastics)
-Mr. Branagan and Mrs. Tracey for their attendance at the Fairview Lake Foundation meeting.
Endangered and Threatened Species:
Sightings: Bobcat, eagles
Of Special Concern: Box turtle
At this point, this portion of the meeting was opened to the public at 7:55 p.m.
Lou Sylvester, 945 Old Schoolhouse Road shared his concerns on the tree removal that has taken place at 947A Old Schoolhouse Road. The property was subdivided in 2017 for the construction of a new single-family dwelling and during the process trees were removed. Mr. Sylvester provided before/after photos of the property. No tree plan was provided as required during the subdivision application and more than three acres of trees have been removed. He provided a copy of Chapter 382 Trees of the Township of Stillwater Code, highlighting the violations. He asked the EC for their support in the restoration of the property. Mr. Sylvester stated zoning permits were issued for tree removal and for a driveway and building envelope. He referred to Chapter 123 Brush, Grass and Weeds with respect to the non-removal of numerous stumps and woodchip piles on the property. Mr. Sylvester indicated he and his neighbors have complained to the Township Committee and the prior Zoning Officer who has since retired. The Township Engineer is supposed to be investigating the matter at this time. The Planning Board Engineer was the Acting Zoning Officer and it was determined he had a conflict. Mr. Sylvester provided a background on the application approved by the Planning Board. He stated due to an injury to the owner, the property was placed for sale and sold to an enterprise this past May 2021. Mr. Sylvester has been before the Township Committee and the Planning Board regarding his complaints and would like to see the property restored. He asked for EC support in the form of a resolution recommending the reforestation of the site. Mrs. Emmetts noted the EC has no enforcement authority.
Mr. Sylvester stated no permits have been pulled for the property at this time. Mrs. Branagan stated if the property had not been sold, she could see holding the owner responsible for the stump removal, however she felt the EC has no authority once the property transferred. Mrs. Emmetts agreed it is a travesty but it is not under the jurisdiction of the EC. Mr. Sylvester stated he was assured by the Planning Board and the Township Committee that the new owner would be held responsible and he again asked for the EC to consider the matter. Mrs. Branagan stated depending on what the new owners do with the property; the EC may be involved and comment on any approvals in the future. Mr. Sylvester stated the property is 6.75 acres and a port-a-john was recently brought to the sight. He thanked the EC for their consideration and the EC agreed to review the information submitted.
There being no further members of the public wishing to speak, this portion of the meeting was closed to the public at 8:20 p.m.
Mr. Branagan made a motion to regretfully accept the resignation of Kathy Wunder, Secretary, effective as of July 31, 2021, seconded by Mrs. Emmetts.
Roll Call Vote: Mrs. Emmetts, yes, Mrs. Tracey, yes, Mr. Dvorsky, yes, Mrs. Branagan, yes, Mr. Svendsen, yes, Mr. Branagan, yes
Mr. Branagan made a motion authorizing the Municipal Clerk to advertise the Secretary to the Environmental Commission position, seconded by Mrs. Emmetts.
Roll Call Vote: Mrs. Emmetts, yes, Mrs. Tracey, yes, Mr. Dvorsky, yes, Mrs. Branagan, yes, Mr. Branagan, yes
Planning Board (PB) Liaison Report: Mr. Branagan
-Tuohy’s joined the meeting via Zoom. They were upset that the sale of their property was being hindered. They indicated the trees removed were dead from gypsy moth infestation. Mr. Branagan reported he brought up the tree removal for further discussion and was frustrated with it not being addressed.
The June Planning Board meeting was cancelled.
Township Liaison Report: Mayor Chammings
-New Zoning Officer Tom Dixon was hired.
-Accepting EC Secretary Resignation
-Dawn Tighe will take the Clerk I/Technical Assistant position. Ms. Tighe was present at the EC meeting and is also interested in the EC secretary position.
-Alicia Gardner will be hired 18 hours/week as a receptionist.
-Another part-time employee will be hired for one day per week.
-Fairview Lake Road property – waiting for a case number. Applied Service has found additional information on the tank removal. Quotes will be obtained for LSRP after the in-rem foreclosure.
-Community Center is being used by several organizations, including LACE, Boy Scouts, Swartswood Lakes Watershed Association and mahjong card group. Sam Wykoff is the new president of the Swartswood Lakes Watershed Association.
-Mayor Chammings and Mr. Branagan met with Christine of the Wallkill River Watershed and Michele DiBlasio to discuss the placement of the signage at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The first sign will be located just before the Trout Brook sign and the second sign will be placed in the upper parking lot near the tree restoration. A Nature Conservancy pamphlet will also be made available.
With no further business to come before the Commission, Mrs. Emmetts made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:36 p.m., seconded by Mrs. Branagan. In a voice vote, all were in favor.
Kathy Wunder, Secretary
Stillwater Township offers residents a Recycling and Convenience Center for household trash and recycling.
Residents are able to view property tax information through the Municipal Software Inc. system. You may find a property by entering the property’s location or block, lot and qualifier.
Stillwater Township posts all information about bids and proposals for township projects on a dedicated page.