VWeb Aug to Dec 2000 Local News
PB Approves MC Plan
12/20/00 Mountain Creek General Development Plan was approved by the PB in a 7 to 1 vote last night. Carol Gunn Kadish cast the only dissenting vote.
Prior to the decision, a lawyer for a state envirogroup told the PB that Hamburg Mountain would be "eviscerated" should IntraWest's plan for development of Mountain Creek be approved, while a lawyer for IW/MC argued that the development impacts on the mountain would be "manageable."
PB approval of the resort's general development plan will give MC a 15-yr. "vested interest," and site plan applications seeking approval for specific developments will be submitted to the PB in future as required.
In addition to the pending lawsuit brought against Vernon twp.by several state enviro orgs seeking to curtail the development plan , and the NJ Attorney General's bid for MC planning details affecting deed restricted Hamburg Mtn. turf, the freeholders of neighboring Passaic County arrayed themselves against the plan and have asked the DOT to assess IW/MC's potential traffic impact upon Rt. 23.
God bless this town's firefighters and ambulance volunteers who, undeterred by inclement weather, escorted Santa Claus on his traditional early rounds in the Vernon Community these past weekends. All VWebsters and their children are most grateful to Vernon's volunteers for creating these annual Holiday Events.
The cheerful sound of horns and sirens on a winter afternoon, alerting neighborhood children to Santa's appearance in their midst!
It is also the sound of dedicated volunteers who will come to our rescue, at all hours and in all weathers.
'Tis the Season of Good Will and Generosity - no better time to show appreciation for our town's emergency volunteer orgs.
Send 'em a donation! Better yet, sign up as a new volunteer!
More Static Re: MtnCreek Plan
Passaic Freeholders Chime In
12/16/00 The Passaic County NJ Freeholders have passed a resolution opposing the general development plans of IntraWest/Mountain Creek in Vernon [n.b., outtatown VWebsters: Vernon is in Sussex County NJ].
Evidently the move was prompted by the Passaic gentry's apprehensions regarding increased traffic on their stretch of RT23, and by a West Milford councilman's prognostications of the MC plan's negative environmental impact on, among other things, the Pequannock Watershed.
Vernon officials expressed incredulity at the chutzpah of the Passaic pols, while Vernon Civic Association president Christian Fuehrer applauded the anti-MC resolution and called for a compromise plan which would spare the brow of Hamburg Mountain from development.
Public hearings re: the MC Plan will continue on the evening of Tues. 12/19 at the Vernon Municipal Bldg.
VPD Gets Four New Officers!
12/16/00 The following officers have been appointed to fill vacant lines in the Vernon Twp. Police Department:
VTPD Officer Daniel Zill, a member of the service for 18 years, has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
FOSPAC Members Appointed!
12/16/00 The TC has appointed the following persons to serve on the town's new Farmland and Open space Preservation Advisory Committee:
Meredith Robson, Twp. Manager (automatic appointment)
These folks will be in charge of vetting preservation-worthy local farmland/open space, and will make recommendations to the PB acordingly.
Dennis Miranda & NJCA EnviroEngineer Say MC Plan is Bad
Birds At Risk, Visual Blight
12/14/00 At last night's PB meeting re: the Mountain Creek General Development Plan, an environmental engineer testifying on behalf of the NJ Conservation Foundation said that the resort's plan was out of line with the part of the town's new zoning law that calls for protection of the Hamburg Mtn. ridgeline.
Evidently, given the extent of the woods to be cleared for construction of a mountaintop lodge and condos, the large size of the proposed buildings and the small size of the "buffer" trees might constitute a visual blight at the ridgeline. MC's attorney said that, if necessary, the resort would rearrange the designs for the area in question so it would be in compliance with local laws.
Also at the meeting, former PB and EnviroCom member Dennis Miranda rose to comment that forest clearing on Hamburg Mtn. would put paid to various songbirds and raptors currently inhabiting the affected parcel.
The NJ Conservation Foundation, by whom Dennis Miranda is employed, is one of several NJ envirogroups in a lawsuit vs. Vernon twp. regarding the matter of the town's new Mountain Resort Property Commercial Development Zone.
Notwithstanding the NJ Attorney General's request to examine MC's detailed plans pertaining to use of deed restricted land on Hamburg Mtn., and notwithstanding the NJAG office's request that the PB defer acting on the resort's general development plan, the PB has decided (on advice of their attorney) to carry on towards approving MC's application. They are confident that the proceedings are in accordance with the GDP ordinance in the NJ State Municipal Land Use Law.
Public hearings re: the MC Plan will continue on Tues. 12/19, at which time MC's attorneys will sum up and the PB will consider its final decision on the resort's proposed big picture.
Big Doings At TC This Week
$3Mil Sewer Bond OK'd, Petition Presented, HS Senior Joins EnviroCom
12/12/00 At last night's TC meeting, a $3 mil bond ordinance enabling future funding of sewer costs was approved. Another study will be undertaken to find a suitable wastewater treatment/disposal site among the four locations currently being considered.
At the meeting a petition with 500 signatures was presented in support of infrastructural developments necessary to encourage commercial growth in the township. The petition was presented by Vernon Chamber of Commerce president Jack Smith.
VTHS senior Erin Sweeney, a resident of Highland Lakes, was sworn in as a student member (ex officio) of the town's Environmental Commission for the duration of the current school year.
MC Employee Dies In Accident
12/8/00 Mountain Creek snowmaker Aurle J. Quick, 21, a resident of Port Jervis NY, was killed last night as a result of an electrical accident at the resort. The victim, who had been on foot at the time, was electrocuted in the course of his work when he came in contact with a snow-laden 115,000-volt GPU power line that was sagging four feet above the ground.
Vernon Twp. Police were notified at 6:39 p.m. and were joined by paramedics, McAfee and Vernon Twp. firefighters, all of whom were transported up to the scene via MC snowmobiles.
Quick was taken to St. Claire's in SussexBoro and was pronounced dead at 8:00 p.m.
The matter is being investigated by VTPD and by OSHA.
Credit to VTPD and to vwebsters MS and CW for the above information
Heartfelt condolences to the victim's family from vwebsters everywhere
Back In The ZB Pipeline: App To Develop 674 Houses At Legends
Lawsuit Settled RE:Site Approval For Houses Around Legends Golf Course
12/7/00 The arguments of Spring Creek Holding Company have prevailed in settlement of a lawsuit brought against Vernon Twp. in 1998, which means that the developers - formerly known as Joyco LLC and Seasons Investment Corp. - will regain preliminary approval to develop 674 housing units around the golf course at Legends.
Joyco LLC and Seasons Investment Corp. sued the township in 1998 because the Vernon Zoning Board revoked the ten-year-old preliminary approvals to contruct the 674 dwellings slated for the Legends vicinity.
The approval to construct the housing subdivision was originally given in 1989 and had been extended over and over again. During those years the applicants did not pay the required fees and legal expenses to the township. In May 1998 the ZB dismissed the final site plan application plus all prior approvals in the parcel's file. The developers argued that this wipeout was arbitrary and unlawful on many levels.
Now, in compliance with a settlement and consent order fashioned by Judge Reginald Stanton, the applicants have paid their legal fees and real estate taxes and their applications are back in the ZB pipeline.
Acting on Judge Stanton's directive, the twp. Zoning Board held a public hearing yesterday to approve the consent order.
The applicants are expected to return to the ZB in future with updates to the site plan.
Howard Burrell Leaves TC This Month
Dems To Decide Who Will Replace Him For Remainder Of Term
112/6/00 Howard Burrell expects to send a formal letter to the TC and to the Vernon Twp. Democratic Committee next week, officially confirming his intention to resign effective Dec. 31, 2000.
The town's Dems are slated to meet next week for the purpose of deciding who they will recommend to serve out the remaining year of Burrell's term in office.
Public Hearings Underway Re: MC's General Plan
Planning Bd To Decide By Year's End?
12/6/00 As IntraWest's application enters the home stretch re: development of Mountain Creek, public hearings got underway last night at the Planning Bd. meeting in the Vernon Muni Bldg.
A number of township residents rose to say they were not happy about general development plans to build appx. 1600 residential units, 200,000 sq.ft. of commercial/retail properties, a conference center, golf course and hotel on MC/IntraWest's Hamburg Mountain property.
Hearings will continue on Dec. 13, 7:30 pm, MuniBldg, at which time testimony from a NJ Conservation Foundation representative is expected to be heard.
Meanwhile, Over To Hardyston...
12/6/00 In special elections (2 referenda) yesterday, voters in Hardyston Twp approved a total of $25.6 mil funding for school expansion and new school construction.
An explosion in school enrollment, plus current availability of state grants to offset certain school construction costs, prompted the school expansion referenda affecting Hardyston elementary and Wallkill Valley Regional HS districts.
Wallkill Valley Regional HS will get nine new classrooms, a seminar room (?), a new roof and repaved parking lot.
Hardyston will get a new school for grades 6 - 8 and the existing elementary school will be renovated.
Residential property tax increase for avg. Hardyston households will be around $200 a year (for 30 years). Additional tax tab for folks in the HS districts (Franklin, Hamburg, Hardyston, Ogdensburg)will be appx. $50 a year .
Voter turnout was 30 per cent.
Real Estate News: Mountain Creek To Begin Building
12/04/00 Having pre-sold all the units of its first-phase Black Creek Sanctuary properties, Mountain Creek expects that construction of the resort's initial housing development will begin this week.
Exit interviews of buyers indicated that none of them planned to use the homes as their own primary residence.
Attn Marketing Wonks - Abstract from Marketing Tools July '97 article Loyalty for Sale :
Intrawest Corp., of Vancouver, Canada, develops resort properties that cost anywhere from $187,000 to $675,000-plus per unit. Intrawest sends out presale invitations only to preferred customers. These are selected from Intrawest's database of 700,000 actual resort users, which has been geocoded and segmented by top income groups using Equifax National Decision Systems' Microvision system.
It is not unusual for IntraWest properties to be sold out in a few hours at presale shows, often with more than three backup offers on each property.
SCMUA: McAfee Sewer Pond Not Feasible
But TC Puts Sewer Bond Ordinance In The Hopper
11/28/00 The SCMUA study of the proposed wastewater site in McAfee concluded that the site is entirely unsuitable for subsurface disposal of treated wastewater. A new location will be sought to accommodate the sewer proposal occasioned by plans for development of Mountain Creek and the Vernon Town Center.
A first reading re: a $3 million sewer bond ordinance was heard on Nov. 27. Public hearing and final reading of the ordinance will take place on Dec. 11 at 8:00 p.m. in the MuniBldg. The bond will enable the TC to borrow the money for sewer engineering once an acceptable sewer project is approved.
Sussex Boro May Chop Admin Post To Save Money
11/21/00 Plagued by recent water system problems, legal fees and the costs of a temporary construction official, Sussex Borough may abolish the appointed position of borough administrator in order to economize.
The boro, which encompasses one octagonal mile replete with commercial ratables and SRO housing, has been in financial distress for the past ten years. During that time its relatively new sewer system had to be entirely replaced and its police department was entirely abolished. The latest setback appears to be a somewhat dysfunctional water system.
A petition signed by 57 residents urging the cost-saving elimination of the administrator post, now held by borough clerk Denise Zuidema, was presented on Nov. 20 to the Sussex Borough Council. Three SBC members, appointed by SB Mayor Peter Horvath, are to evaluate the combined ($48,000) clerk/administrator post. The contract for the administrator part of Zuidema's employment expires in December of next year.
Home Rule or Bust.
11/17/00 Voter approval of a Farmland/Open Space Preservation Fund in Vernon Twp. means that the TC will accordingly appoint a five member Farmland and Open Space Preservation Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee will consist of the Township Manager, one conservationist, one member of the Environmental Commission, one member of the Township who is not an active farmer, and a member of the agricultural community who owns a farm and actively farms in Vernon.
Anyone interested in serving on this important committee is encouraged to send a letter of interest outlining their interest and qualifications to the town clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is anticipated that positions will be filled by the end of the year.
NJ Att'y General to MC: Lets See Those Plans
[ Thanks to VWebster mzwestpalm for FWDing the above cartoon of the Palm Beach County FLA ballot ]
[Thanks to VWebster Wolfgang for FWDing the below cartoon of the FLA ballot redesign ]
All Eyes On 'Deed- Restricted' Hamburg Mtn. Lands
11/10/00 Citing concern re: compliance with the deed restrictions on Hamburg Mountain lands, NJ State Attorney General John J. Farmer wants to see MC/IntraWest's fully detailed development plan vis a vis those lands.
Meanwhile, the parade of experts continues at ongoing Planning Board hearings regarding MC's general development plan and its impact on local traffic, water, flora and fauna.
MC/IntraWest spokesmen continue to pledge their utmost allegiance to the environment and wildlife of Hamburg Mountain.
Nov. 7, 2000 General Election - County & Town Election Results
...and Freeholder Candidates, in brief
Vote for two members, Sussex County Board Of Chosen Freeholders, 3 year term:
32,728 Susan Zellman, Republican
29,726 Charles M. Kuperus, Republican
18,766 Margaret "Marge" Morreale, Democrat
16,878 Richard Hodson, Democrat
4,391 No Vote
Vote for one member, Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, 1 year unexpired term:
31,953 Harold J. Wirths, Republican
20,210 Robert Shapiro, Democrat
5,604 No Vote
Vernon Municipal Question 1:
Vote 5,750Yes, 3,013 No - Farmland And Open Space Preservation Trust Fund
County Question 1
Vote 40,304 Yes, 14,799 No - Sussex County Farmland, Recreation And Open Spaces Trust Fund
The Freeholder Candidates, In Brief:
Susan Zellman,57, m. Doug Zellman, 1 child; edu. Bucknell Univ., B.A, Columbia Univ, M.A.; exp. PS teacher; SCCC adjunct faculty; mgt. development trainer, Prudential; exec.dir, Housing Partnership; Stanhope & also SC Planning Bd.; Lake Musconetcong Planning Bd.; SC Strategic Growth Advisory Comm; Advisory Comm. On Housing for NJ State Plan; NJ Consumer Financial Servc. Advisory Bd.; NJ Dept. of Banking & Insurance; Summit Bank Advisory Council.
Republican; res. Stanhope
Charles M. Kuperus,42, m.,6 children; edu. Eastern Christian High School: exp. Farmer, retail owner, Kuperus Farmside Gardens; Sussex Boro Council; commissioner, Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority; v.p., NJ Farm Bureau Bd. Of Directors; SC Bd. Of Agriculture; pres. Sussex Christian School; member, Sussex Christian Reformed Church Council; member, NJ State Planning Comm.; chairman, State Plan Development Comm.
Republican; res. Sussex Borough
Marge Morreale,57, w., 5 children; edu. Seton Hall Univ., B.A; DeVry Technical Inst, telecomm. degree;
exp. Member, Hamburg Town Council; v.p. Winding Brook Condminium Assoc.; member, Hamburg Planning Bd., Historical ,Recreational & Open Space Resource Protection Initiatives comm's; Cross-Acceptance Comm.; State Designated Regional Center Comm.; commissioner, Statewide Insurance Fund; boro liaison, Office of Admin,Finance, Bd. Of Ed.; member, Gov.'s Councils on : Drug & Alcohol, Drug Alliance, Insurance; v.p., SC chapter, League of Municipalities; member, SC Transportation Advisory Comm.; member, One-Stop Career Center, Morris/Sussex/Warren, Workforce Investment Board; site coord., Rutgers Co-op. Ext. NJ State Strengthening Project.
Democrat; res. Hamburg
Richard Hodson,65, m. Maryann, 4 children; edu.(_) physics M.A. exp. Faculty (ret.), Montclair State Univ; mayor, Hopatcong Twp., member, Hopatcong TCouncil; member, SC Planning Bd.; member, SC Strategic Growth Advisory Comm.; member, Lake Hopatcong Regional Planning Bd.;org., Easter Baskets and Food program; member, Hopatcong School-Wide Alliance Team Against Drugs&Alcohol.
Democrat; res. Lake Hopatcong
Harold Wirths,35, m.Debbie, 2 children; edu. Upsala College, AA; exp. retail owner, The Oak Shoppe; pres., Walkill Valley Rotary; member, SC Chamber of Commerce; chairman, Wantage Township Economic Dev. Comm.; member, bd. of directors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of SC.
Republican; res. Wantage
Robert Shapiro, 43, m. Cindy, 2 children; edu. (_) exp. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; instructor, West Point Millitary Acad.; exec., Wakefern Food Corp; retail owner, Newton Sew-Vac Center Inc.; mayor, Newton Twp; deputy mayor, Newton twp.; pres., Newton Chamber of Commerce; chairman Newton Parking Authority; chairman/cofounder Newton's National Night Out; member, Newton Utilities Commission; member, Newton twp. Planning Bd.; member, Newton twp. Downtown Revitalization Comm.; member, Newton American Legion; member, National Federation for Independent Business.
Democrat; res. Newton.
Voting In A Time of False Choices
VWeb Tyrants editorial rant
Some folks (not us) plan to vote for Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan because they feel that the GOP and Dem presidential candidates present a false choice to the people.
Guys, if you think voting for third-party soreheads is a genuine choice, God be with you.
When push comes to shove, the national choice is between the Democratic Party or the Republican Party doctrines of government. The county Freeholder race comes down to the same choice (oh, yes, it does) between these two opposing doctrines.
In contrast, the Public Questions on this year's ballot present the voting community with a choice to either accept or reject specific tax propositions. A rare non-partisan opportunity that no conscientious taxpayer should miss!
Consider the effect of this year's Public Question as to funding a Land Preservation Trust in Vernon NJ, a town which has for many years been politically preoccupied with a false choice between economic growth and open space protection. This false choice has historically fragmented the community and has given rise to two redoubtable tribes, the Town Conservationists and the Town Builders. Both tribes play fast and loose with the truth at times.
For example, dare we point out to The Town Builders that some plain talk about the Commercial Ratable Imperative might be overdue? Contrary to the notion that wise, taxpayer-considerate municipal planning must be based on "attracting commercial ratables," it turns out that taxpayers in the least commercially developed towns are the economic winners. In an oft-cited study, THE MYTH OF THE RATABLES by Leonard W. Hamilton, PhD & Paul B. Wehn, PhD, it was shown that some Morris County NJ towns have added huge amounts of ratables over the past two decades but continue to pay taxes at the same rate as those that remained "ratable poor." Nationwide studies show the same failure of ratables as a mechanism of tax reduction. There is no reason to believe that this failed theory will work any better in the next 20 years. What reason is there to resist the evidence that commercial ratables do not bring property tax relief?
Face it - the Commercial Ratable Imperative may be the greatest example of NJ mythology since The Jersey Devil.
Now we come to The Conservationists, whose sense of entitlement to speak for All of Nature And Mankind is the result of similarly wishful thinking. For instance, in this nation as presently constituted, no good will ever result from courthouse wars of attrition against private property owners. And dare we observe that "greenmailing" the public into paying private farm owners a ransom (lest the land be trashed by developers) is much like the kind of "protection" policy Al Capone had in mind?
Locally, the Conservationists have seldom troubled to study and/or advocate fiscally sound, socially responsible and practical alternatives to the various tax-draining constructs which underlie "development" in our time. Thus incapable of offering mutually satisfactory solutions, the Conservationists tend to rely instead on a defensive strategy of obstruction. It is no surprise that they set the business sector's teeth on edge and are presumed to be Against Everything.
Both tribes believe that they can count on the enthusiastic support of the taxpayers. But shouldn't that be a two-way street? Come to think of it, when was the last time you heard a Builder or a Conservationist call for an end to the archaic NJ residential property tax system itself? In this town, the lion's share of the property tax pie goes to pay for school expenses mandated by the state. Here's the thing: homeowners will never get any tax relief until the use of local property taxes to pay for state-ordered school costs is abolished. NJ's regressive system of residential property taxation needs to be abolished entirely. Should that ever happen, tribal controversy - the false choice between economic growth and open space protection - might end at last.
Until then, a (grudging) vote in favor of the open space protection tax may be the only way to assert the good economic sense - and the genuinely balanced "town vision" - that Vernon taxpayers have had all along.
McAfee Folks Don't Like That Sewer Plan
Residents,Town Officials Square Off At Meeting
10/19/00 There was no peace in Pleasant Valley this week.
Tempers flared at a TC meeting held in the PVL Clubhouse on Tuesday night as McAfee residents expressed their displeasure with sewer engineering concepts involving discharge of treated wastewater into their neighborhood. Town officials and SCMUA representatives spoke about the sewer project and its economic benefits to the town but, by all accounts, many of the meeting's attendees were unpersuaded.
The SCMUA is presently conducting a study which will determine the identified McAfee site's suitability as a wastewater discharge area. The idea is to create a sewer system which brings treated wastewater back to Vernon instead of dumping it all (the water, that is) into the Wallkill River.
See also: Sewers and Water
Miranda Dissed By TC
10/17/00 The TC has refused to recommend Vernon resident, ex-Planning Bd./EnviroCom member and longstanding environmental activist Dennis Miranda for an appointment to the Meadowlands Conservation Trust.
[Whazzat? See Meadowlands Conservation Trust Act ]
NJ Sen.Robert Littell(R-24) requested that the TC send in a recommendation letter for Miranda, to which they (except for TCer James Kilby) replied No Dice .
This means that Miranda will just have to make do with Gov. Whitman's recommendation to appoint him to the Meadowlands Conservation Trust.
The TC identifies Miranda with the lawsuit brought against Vernon Twp. by various statewide envirogroups in the matter of MtnCreek-tailored zoning alterations affecting Hamburg Mountain. Miranda is an enviro-lobbyist employed by The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, one of the groups who filed the suit.
Recent Items of Interest
Vweb newsbeaks' disgraceful inattention to updating last week's Local News can be blamed on: NY Mets, NY Yankees, various outdoor distractions (fishing, foliage admiration, etc.), tv show premieres, must-read new books, and a temporary aversion to IntraWest-related issues. Forgive! The following items are offered in atonement:
- In contemplation of a new sewer system, the township has contracted for a $100,000 sewer study to determine how to prevent large quantities of groundwater from leaving Vernon never to return. Evidently, the feasibility of a method involving return of treated wastewater to ponds in the McAfee/Black Creek vicinity is being examined. Engineers at Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) expect the study to take 90 days. McAfee residents do not appear to be enthused at the prospect of treated wastewater ponds in the vicinity of their household wells. Township officials, plus SCMUA representatives and the township's engineering consultant, will discuss the proposal at a public forum to be held on Oct. 17 at the Pleasant Valley Lakes Clubhouse, McAfee.
- A new group, Save Our Mountain Environment (SOME), has made its debut and vows to keep a sharp lookout at TC/PB hearings re: Mountain Creek's General Development Plan.
- It is anticipated that the lawsuit vs. Vernon Twp., brought by 5 statewide environmental watchdog groups in reaction to the town's "spot zoning" for Mtn. Creek, will be on the January calendar of Superior Court Judge Reginald Stanton.
- Sussex Countywide, GOP and Dem elected officeholders and candidates for office are unanimously opposed to the NJ State master development plan. Reason: the plan frowns on development in max environmentally sensitive areas, which is how Sussex County is identified by the state (but not by local governments hereabouts).
- Vernon's Local Organizing Committee of The Countryside Exchange Program appeals to all township residents for their constructive input re: reconciling the town's economic development with the preservation of its community character. Vernon is one of nine communities (six in the United Kingdom, three in the US including Vernon and Warwick, NJ, that were selected to hold an Exchange this year. The Exchange is coordinated in North America by Glynwood Center, a non-profit organization based in Cold Spring, NY and more than 70 communities worldwide have participated. Residents who see the value of this group's non-partisan approach are urged to email Vernon LOC contacts Jack McLaughlin and Anthony Macerino with their suggestions and queries.
Harvest Time, Harvest House
Sussex Boro Facility To Open Oct. 28
10/6/00 Harvest House, the community lunch program initiated by a most exemplary group of VTHS students, will officially open its doors this month.
An open house and reception will be held at the First Baptist Church on Rt. 23 in Sussex Boro on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2000, which is National Make A Difference Day.
Patience & dedication rewarded - for two years, student participants in the Hunger Project have been working to bring food to Sussex County residents in need. During that time, the VTHS students' Hunger Project Task Force has twice won national recognition for their efforts to Make A Difference.
Bag lunches have been distributed all along at the Sussex Boro location to those in need but, now that all the required renovations at the Baptist Church have finally been completed, hot meals can be served indoors at noon on each weekday.
Residents and local organizations who have supported the students' efforts will join the public at the Oct. 28 "Day of Caring" celebration and Open House at the newly renovated facility.
Frances Speilhagen, faculty adviser to the VTHS Hunger Project, reminds all individuals and groups interested in joining the Harvest House effort that they are welcome to call the Harvest House Hotline at (973) 764-8500.
And anyone who criticizes "today's youth" will have to answer to the proud residents of Vernon NJ.
Schoolbus Hit By Truck
10/6/00 Yesterday morning a truck skidded headlong into a schoolbus on Barry Drive North near Blue Heron Terrace in Barry Lakes.
Nine of the 29 students aboard, all bound for Walnut Ridge School, reported minor injuries (none were taken to the hospital). A second schoolbus took all the children to school.
The schoolbus driver, Linda Phister, and the truck driver, Eric Albrecht, were not injured in the front end collision which evidently ensued when, as the flashing bus lights hove into view, the truck skidded out crosswise to avoid rear-ending a braking vehicle in front of it . The accident is still under investigation.
Countryside Exchange Forum
9/29/00 The second community forum to prepare for Vernon's Countryside Exchange will take place on Thursday, October 5th at 7:00 PM at the Vernon Municipal Center.
The members of Vernon's Local Organizing Committee (LOC) invite all Vernon residents interested in responsible and balanced growth, development and planning in Vernon Township to attend.
Click for full text of press release from Vernon's Organizing Committee, Countryside Exchange Program
Police Chief Appointed
9/26/00 At last night's TC meeting, Capt. Roy Wherry was sworn in as Chief of the Vernon Police Department.
A member of the service since 1975, Wherry was made the acting Chief of Vernon Twp. Police following the retirement of Chief Kenneth Johnson last February.
Congratulations, Chief Wherry!
ZB Votes NO To Sprint Tower
9/20/00 The town's Zoning Board has rejected Sprint's application to erect a 150-ft. cell tower in a residential neighborhood, thus ending 8 months of anxiety and tireless organizing by residents in the vicinity of the targeted Lk.Pochung Road property.
In the end, ZB members were persuaded that the gigundo tower installation would indeed reduce nearby property values.
They were also persuaded by the testimony Richard Wolf, a telecommunications expert hired by the ZB. Wolf's report explained that Sprint could provide adequate cell coverage by co-locating on already existing towers in the township.
The decision to reject the application was an immense relief to the affected homeowners, who thanked the ZB for its responsiveness to their plight.
Audience Outbursts Mar PB Meeting
9/19/00 By all accounts, conflicting intentions gave rise to some unpleasantness between Planning Board&IntraWest presenters and members of the public at last night's PB meeting.It was the latest session re: IWest/MC's General Development Plan.
Although on this occasion traffic impact and proposed roadway re-design was to be the element presented for PB scrutiny, some of the appx. 40 residents in attendance were irked to learn that further discussion of the environmental impact element was not to be. The audience was further cautioned to withhold comments until such time as the floor was opened to members of the public.
Henry J. Ney, a traffic engineer hired by IWest, described the various proposed MC-oriented alterations (traffic lights, turn lanes, etc.) affecting the town's two main thoroughfares (515 & 94). The foreseen result: improvement of traffic flow in the area of MC's proposed retail sections and residential villages.
The recommended designs, which have to be approved by NJDOT, are also expected to enhance traffic flow in the to-be-developed Vernon Town Center.
As was the case with the environmental element, the traffic-related inquiry is to be continued at a future PB meeting. Due to last night's protracted session, much of the audience left before the meeting was officially opened to comments from the public.
Howard Burrell Will Stay on TC 'Til December
Couldn't Beat John Logan's Time in 10K Race
9/17/00 On Saturday, John Logan finished the Jeffrey's Run 10K charity race
before Howard Burrell - and that means Howard Burrell will stay on the TC until the end of this December.
See Logan Challenges Burrell.
It's Official: No Bear Hunt
9/12/00 (AP) The New Jersey Fish and Game Council has voted 6-4 to halt a bear hunt scheduled for Sept. 18.
The council accepted a request from Gov. Christie Whitman to not go through with the hunt and look for other ways to control the state's burgeoning black bear population.
Bear Hunt 404'd?
9/10/00 Gov. Whitman wants the NJ Fish and Game Council to suspend the bear hunt and to pursue alternative measures intended to reduce bear/human tensions.
The F&G Council is expected to consider the Gov.'s new plan on Tuesday. Meanwhile, state programs associated with gearing up for the bear Hunt (which was to to begin on Sept. 18) have been cancelled.
Also see GODSPEED's notes on the impetus for Gov. W's change of heart.
Click New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife NEWS to read the 10/8/00 press release re: suspending the bear hunt/Gov.W's new plan.
(Link Nudge credit: VWebster Nick Chiarchiaro)
Logan Challenges Burrell: You vs. Me At Charity 10K Race
Outcome Will Determine HB's TC Resignation Date
9/6/00 Vernon Mayor John Logan has challenged Howard Burrell to beat him to the finish line at the Sept. 16 Jeffrey's Run, a 10K race to help raise monies that will be used to benefit the family of Jeffrey Bernet.
Jeffrey Bernet was a six-year-old who attended Kindergarten at Walnut Ridge School. In March of this year he died of a rare childhood cancer. The Sept. 16 race will begin and end at Walnut Ridge School.
Howard Burrell has accepted Logan's challenge, as follows: if Burrell finishes the race before Logan, then Burrell will resign at the end of September 2000 - but if Logan finishes before Burrell, then Burrell will not resign until the end of December 2000.
In May of this year, owing to concerns about his absences at town meetings, Sussex County Freeholder Howard Burrell announced his intention to resign from the Vernon TC at the end of September. John Logan and other TC members have consistently urged Burrell to remain on the TC.
MtnCreek Enviro Impact - The Past Is Prologue
Not To Worry, Specialist Tells Mtg. Listeners
8/31/00 Pointing out that Hamburg Mtn. flora & fauna have substantially bounced back from habitat displacements and disturbances wrought by previous developers, an expert from the engineering firm hired by Mountain Creek told last night's MuniBldg. audience that MC's development plan would therefore wreak minimal enviro-havoc over the next 10 years of construction.
The four-hour meeting, jointly conducted by the Planning Bd and EnviroCommission, was well attended by the public. It was the third in a series of hearings re: Mountain Creek's General Development Plan.
Environmentalists rose to question the expert qualifications of Ron Alevras, the impact assessment specialist for Matusky, Lawler & Skelly Engineers LLP who testified at last night's meeting. Attention was called to the lack of detailed descriptive information normally associated with environmental impact assessments. A summary report, also customary, was not available but MC lawyer Roger Thomas said that all reports will be forwarded to the TC boards in a few weeks.
Alevras agreed to provide the boards with a list of the wildlife species observed during his team's 555-hr. study of Mountain Creek territory.
Future meetings will be held to further examine and discuss the MC General Development Plan.
Meeting Wednesday Re: Mountain Creek Development Plan
8/29/00 On Wednesday, Aug.30, 7:30pm, the township Planning Board and the township Environmental Commission will hold a joint meeting at the Vernon Municipal Bldg. to hear the continued presentation of IW/MtnCreek's general development plan.
The joint meeting was suggested by PB chairman John O'Connor so that the EnviroCom might be present to cross-examine IntraWest's environmental consultants.
Or, perhaps more accurately, so that the loyal remnant of EC appointees might be present to cross-examine representatives of Our Father Who Art In Vancouver.
2 Planners Off To Canada for LookSee at IW's Mt.Tremblant
8/29/00 Two members of the Planning Board, Kristin Wheaton and Greg Haines, will travel to the IntraWest resort at Mt.Tremblant. The object of the trip is to find out what an IntraWest resort looks like and to see what effect it has on the economy of surrounding towns. Travel expenses will be paid by Vernon township.
Meantime, VWebsters might want to read a reprint of a "wildly speculative" March 2000 letter written by a Mammoth Lakes, Calif. TC member re: a certain Intrawest Development out there. The guy's obviously a troublemaker.
Deputy Town Mgr. To Be Hired
8/29/00 Twp. Manager Meredith Robson has been given permission to hire a deputy, provided the duties of such a position are defined to the satisfaction of the TC.
State FarmPresProgram Ethics Rules Eyed
Andy Borisuk Only NJ Aggie To Oppose New Guidelines
8/25/00 In reaction to NJ state legislators' growing apprehensions re: the integrity of the state's farmland preservation program, which relies on county agricultural boards (typically local farm owners) to recommend which farms in their county should get farmland preservation $$$, the NJ Agricultural Development Committee has voted to propose two new guidelines:
1. Members of county ag boards must resign if they or members of their immediate families want to participate in the farmland preservation program.The NJ Agricultural Development Committee approved the two new guidelines by a vote of 10 to 1.
2. State officers and employees, and members of their families, are prohibited from participation in the farmland preservation program.
The only member of the NJAgDev Committee to vote against the proposed new rules was Sussex County's Agricultural Committee member Andrew Borisuk, a resident of Vernon (and member of the town's EnviroCommission).
Borisuk argued that existing local ethics laws were enough .
The two proposed new rules will now be listed in the New Jersey Register and open to a 30-day public comment period. They will not take effect until the NJAgDev Committee votes on them again.
In decades past, farmers on county ag boards were supposed to have recused themselves from discussing or voting on their own applications for farmland pres $$$.
OK'd farm pres applications proceed to the county freeholders (who might also be local farm owners,in some counties) for the final cut.
Dennis Miranda Resigns From TC Boards
8/24/00 Dennis Miranda has resigned from both the Planning Board and the Environmental Commission. His resignation letter to the TC cited work and family reasons, plus a sense of futility as an environmentalist among "anti-environment and pro-development" board appointees.
Earlier this month, two other EnviroCom members submitted their resignations to the TC. Connie Mylor and Suzanne Ginhart made it plain that they were reacting to the anti-environmentalist pressures,obstructions and "abuse" they have experienced from this year's new EnviroCom member Andrew Borisuk.
Score so far: Fox 3, Henhouse 0.
Correction - We regret that, in an earlier text, Julia Schlesinger was incorrectly mentioned as one of the members who had quit the commission citing difficulties with Andrew Borisuk. Not so! Mrs. Schlesinger was not a member of the EC and resigned from her job as recording secretary of the EC in June '99 for personal reasons. She says she considers A. Borisuk "a valuable, contributing member of the Environmental Commission."
TC Approves GreenTax Referendum
But Some Residents Balk At Taxation Solution
8/15/00 The question of whether or not Vernon residents support a local tax to preserve open space and farmland will be decided in this November's general election. On Monday, TC voted to place the greentax proposition on the ballot.
A view favorable to this tax can be found on Godspeed's Notebook.
McAfee resident Dan Borstad, in attendance at the Monday TC mtg., expressed an unfavorable view of the 5 yr., 2¢ - per- $100-assessed-property-value taxation, calling it an additional burden on fixed-income residents. Borstad further argued that, up until this year, the town had always attempted to preserve as much open space as possible.
Vernon farm owner Jamie Rickey urged the TC to spend at least half the money on farmland preservation should the voters approve of the tax.
INUNDATED! Trashed! Swept Away!
Saturday's Storm Worse Than Hurricane In Our Region
8/14/00 Vernon Township escaped the wrath of Saturday's amazingly relentless thunderstorm, which brought down bridges, tore up water mains, swelled lakes and brooks and rivers to overflowing, routered out new streams, forced folks in some neighboring localities to evacuate their homes and severely trashed whole towns before it was over.
Fourteen inches of rainfall accumulated during the alldaylong cannonade of water which pounded this part of NJ. Jefferson, Hoptacong, Sparta and Ogdensburg took a particularly severe beating. Torn up water mains in Newton caused county offices to remain closed today - Newton residents may have to depend on trucked-in water until the pipes are repaired.
Incredibly, apart from a few soggy basements, Vernon twp. was spared from the floods that left many other towns awash in disastrous conditions. By Sunday midday, only the Rudetown Rd. area of McAfee and the area of Sandhill Rd. near the railroad tracks bore evidence of the colossal rainfall.
8/13/00 For the delectation of VWebsters who, inexplicably, no longer live in Vernon or who never have occasion to use Maple Grange Road, here's a snap of the new, long-awaited bridge.
TC's EnviroCom Weighs In vs. Lawsuit
Dissed by NJ EnviroBloc's Action
8/10/00 Members of the twp.'s Environmental Commission passed a resolution supporting the township's zoning law changes affecting land use on Hamburg Mountain.
The zoning change is the point of a lawsuit brought against Vernon twp. by several statewide environmental orgs earlier this month.
Vernon's envirocom will also take steps to disengage itself from the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions, one of several plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit.
In a related development, two members of the Vernon envirocom have announced their intention to resign their appointments. Connie Mylor and Suzanne Ginhart have characterized their resignations as the foreseeable outcome of anti-environmentalist pressures and "abuse" they have experienced from this year's new envirocom member Andrew Borisuk.
EnviroGroups Take Vernon To Court
Mountain Creek Zone Is Legal Issue
8/2/00 On Monday, several NJ environmental orgs joined together in filing a lawsuit vs. Vernon Twp.
The plaintiffs' court case, which probably came as a surprise to no one alive in Vernon, takes on the recent twp. zoning law amendment which is closely fitted to IntraWest's proposed resort developments at Mountain Creek Park.
Also this week, IntraWest filed its Planning Board application for approval of its 15-yr. development plan. The plan calls for 2000 units (3 villages, two golf courses, commercial space, etc.)on the 2000-acre Hamburg Mountain property owned by IntraWest.
Enviro & conservation orgs averred that they seek to prevent "sprawl" from trashing the wildlife habitats and environmental resources of Hamburg Mountain.
Canadian mega-resortdeveloper Intrawest, although not a defendant in the above lawsuit now pending in NJ Superior Court (Newton), issued statements to the effect that MC developers would never jam the environment or wildlife on Hamburg Mountain because such an outcome would be contrary to MC's nature-themed designs for the resort complex.
Vernon Mayor John Logan reiterated his longstanding assertion that a "small group of environmental extremists" are out to thwart Vernon/IntraWest development, and he declared that this extremist band had induced the statewide orgs to act as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.Here are some of the statewide orgs in the suit:
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
New Jersey Audubon Society
Association of NJ Environmental Commissions
NJ Chapter of The Sierra Club
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