VWeb Local News
Spring/Summer 2000

BearCode 101: A "House" Is Where A Human Stores Its Food
Mama Bear Enters Stillwater Home, Helps Herself To Eats in 'Fridge

7/27/00 Yesterday at appx. 6pm a Stillwater resident, Marsha Labovitz, came home from work to find bear cubs on her lawn - and an adult bear still inside her house.

Alerted by Labovitz' arrival, the 200 lb. Mama Bear exited a window, left her cubs picnicking on the lawn, and watched further developments from a position of safety (100 yds. uphill) as police appeared on the scene.

The house was no longer at its best.
Police determined that the bear had actually entered the house by pushing up a closed living room window.

Altogether, four window screens had been ripped apart and one storm window had been destroyed. Once inside, the bear had gone to the refrigerator, opened it, and carried its contents out to her waiting cubs.

According to an item in the county section of today's Star-Ledger, Labovitz "keeps her garbage in the basement to avoid attracting bears."

Activists To Host 'Skeeter Spraying Confab in Vernon
County's use of malathion is the issue

7/26/00  As the West Nile virus continues its march towards our area, a group of Vernon activists are saying that the public should be concerned about Sussex County's continued spraying of the pesticide malathion.

A public meeting to discuss the issue will be held at 11am on Sunday at the Tall Timbers Property Owners Assoc. (located off Route 565). Local officials have been invited to attend. County health officials have said they're prepared talk to the public about the spraying program, but not about the safety of malathion. Freeholder and Vernon TC member Howard Burrell said he would attend the meeting, which is being organized by Tall Timbers property owner Joyce Shepard.

What's the buzz re: malathion?
(abstracted from July 2000 Discover magazine)
In use as a pesticide since the U.S. banned DDT in 1972, malathion is yet another subject of confusing statements from scientists and government officials. The USEPA says it's one of the least risky of the riskiest class of pesticides. Local officials announce that malathion spraying is harmless, but contradict themselves by warning everyone to stay indoors and to bring children's toys inside.

After a 4-yr. review, the fedEPA found "suggestive evidence" that malathion can cause cancer. The U.S. Centers for Poison Control database lists 10,000+ incidents (incl. fatalities) involving malathion. In past years, various fedEPA officials have warned that risk to human health may increase because, as insects become increasingly resistant, higher concentrations of malathion will be used.(BTW, in addition to killing insects, malathion kills fish.)

Stephen Johnson, a fedEPA deputy assistant administrator quoted in the July 2000 Discover magazine, said "Pesticides are intended to kill things, and malathion is part of a class of compounds that are among the riskiest on the market."

A class action suit, claiming personal injury and damages to more than a million Florida residents as a result of 1997-98 malathion spraying, is now pending against Cheminova (major manufacturer of malathion). An epidemiologist who recommended discontinuation of the malathion spraying, to which he attributed 123 cases of acute pesticide-related illness in Florida, was fired in March 2000 by the Florida State Dept. of Health. He has filed a claim under the federal whistle-blower statute.

Malathion is a neurotoxin. It can cause headaches, sinus congestion, and respiratory problems. High doses can cause cramps, frothing at the mouth/nose, muscle spasms and coma.

If malathion has been stored improperly it breaks down into isomalathion, which is 95x more toxic.

Despite last year's malathion spraying in NYC, overwintering mosquitoes in NYC were found to contain West Nile virus this year.

West Nile 'Skeeters Found In Orange County NY

7/21/00 Health officials in nearby Orange County NY have confirmed that mosquitoes carrying the potentially deadly West Nile virus were found in the town of Minisink this week.

In today's Middletown Times Herald Record story by Wayne A. Hall, OC Health Commissioner Dr. Maxcy Smith said that the virus was found in day-flying, rural-loving aedes japonicus and is therefore a good bet to show up in the much more common culex pipiens mosquito.

OC will begin pouring larvacide into public storm drains and will decide if spraying is necessary at a later date. Meanwhile, as was the case last summer, free insect repellent will be distributed at pharmacies throughout Orange County.
Including Warwick NY, of course.

An Associated Press report today revealed that, despite massive spraying last year, infected crows are showing up in Westchester and Rockland Counties (NY). Staten Islanders are also preparing for more bouts of anti-mosquito spraying. A 71-year-old man died of West Nile virus in Staten Island this week.

Seven people died of West Nile virus in NYC last summer.

Spa Foreclosure…

7/18/00 As to the matter of Stonehill Option Holder Inc. vs. Stonehill Recreation , the following report from the Sussex County Sheriff's office:
At the July 10, 2000 Sheriff's sale (mortgage foreclosure) of the Spa in Vernon, there were no bidders. In such a case, the property goes back to the plaintiff, i.e. the mortgage holder. Which would be, in this case, Stonehill Option Holder Inc.

JULY: A Month of Remembrance in Vernon

It is in July that Vernon Township residents - especially veteran firefighters, ambulance squad members and police officers - pause to remember the horrific events of July 16 and July 26, 1992. Those events deserve to be remembered as clearly as if they had happened only yesterday.

In the late afternoon of July 16, 1992, a tractor tanker containing 9,000 gallons of gasoline was headed North on County Route 515 (enroute to the Mobil station in Vernon) when, coming down Sisco Hill towards the intersection of Breakneck Road, the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The tanker struck a guard rail, hit a car that was stopped at the intersection, crashed into a telephone pole, skidded off the roadway and overturned. The occupants of the struck automobile were treated and released from a local hospital.

All the gasoline, which was to be delivered to the Mobil station in Vernon, spilled out into the creek.

The driver, 25 year-old Michael Scotto, could not be extracted by rescue personnel because of the intense gas fumes and because the use of hydraulic cutting devices was prohibited by the great risk of explosion. Anguished volunteers and police officers kept in verbal contact with Scotto even as they engaged in the superhuman battle to prevent an immensely destructive gas explosion. They worked in total darkness (all electrical power was turned off for fear of sparking an explosion) throughout the night to help Scotto and to prevent a townwide catastrophe.

Pinned in the cab of the overturned tanker, Michael Scotto died of gasoline inhalation, positional asphyxia and external hemmorhaging. Sometime after midnight the county prosecutor pronounced Scotto dead at the scene.

Investigators from the National Bureau of Transportation Safety concluded that the gasoline truck's brakes had melted during the steep descent on Rt. 515 at Sisco Hill. Michael Scotto - who had never driven to Vernon before that day - had been powerless to control the vehicle as it hurtled down that last step grade.

Then, on July 26, 1992, a charter bus filled to capacity with NYC daytrippers headed for Action Park crashed at the same intersection. The bus brakes failed while coming down the steep grade of County Route 515 at Sisco Hill, just before Breakneck Road. The bus went skidding out of control and overturned just past Breakneck Road.

Scores of Vernon residents, going about their business downtown, froze in horror after they heard the explosion and realized that the sound was coming from Rt. 515, just past the A& P parking lot . Worst fears were confirmed by a flash of light, then by a dense plume of smoke rising from the location of the previous gasoline tanker accident.

Seven of the passengers were killed and many more were seriously injured in that fiery bus crash.

County Route 515 was immediately closed between Breakneck Road and Rt. 94. Volunteers , town employees and police who had barely recovered from the exhausting ordeal of the previous accident were again called upon to rescue the injured , extract the dead, and prevent further catastrophe at the scene of the burning bus.

The bus brakes were faulty to begin with, and driver/owner William Campbell- whose own wife died in the crash - was subsequently charged with manslaughter, tried and convicted.

In 1992,because of heightened media attention to bus safety, the general public learned that bus companies nationwide were - as a rule - extremely negligent re: mechanical maintenance.

In the weeks following the July 1992 crashes, reports by public safety investigators and remediation consulting experts worldwide concluded that Vernon township's ambulance, firefighting and police professionals were the best emergency personnel to be found anywhere.

Both of these horrible accidents brought state and national attention to County Route 515 in Vernon. Governor Florio visited the scene after the bus crash and pledged millions of state dollars towards construction costs of fixing Route 515. In short order, police officers were posted to stop vehicles over 4 tons from using Rt. 515. Large electronic signs which read, "Vehicles Over Four Tons Banned On Rt. 515 Use Route 23N to 94N" were immediately placed at the Rt. 23 access to Rt. 515.

In August 1992 the Vernon Township Committee passed a new ordinance restricting all vehicles (except for local delivery and schoolbuses) over four tons and having more than a single rear axle from travelling on Route 515 in both directions from the Hardyston Township Line to Breakneck Road.

The law was to take effect upon approval by the Commissioner of Transportation. Which approval would not be forthcoming until the ordinance was approved by the Sussex County Freeholders.

The electronic signs disappeared after a month or so. Before long it was back to business as usual on County Rt. 515.

The Freeholders never acted on the new ordinance.

Freeholder/Vernon resident John Warren, among others, opposed it. Suggestions for safety improvements at the fatal intersection were derided as impractical and unnecessary. Bad drivers/unsafe vehicles were considered to be the sole cause of the 515/Breakneck problem.

The old (1979) ordinance, which prohibits trucks (except local deliveries)over 4 tons travelling from Hardyston's border to Rt. 94 in Vernon, is still in force and effect, according to the Sussex County Planning Board. It is not clear what, if anything, happened with the state funds to make Rt. 515 safer.

The future design of Route 515, especially near Breakneck Road, has still not been determined.

One thing is certain: that in July of 1992 eight people died horribly in accidents at the intersection of County Route 515 and Breakneck Road in Vernon, and that our town's police officers, road crews and hundreds of local volunteers performed tirelessly & heroically while exposed to the most hazardous conditions imaginable.

Traffic (and accident risk) on County Rt. 515 seems to increase every year.

The methods of making a steeply graded road less hazardous are no great mystery of civil engineering. Local laws which restrict the travel of heavy vehicles on certain roads are no great mystery either.
Local officials have had many years to decide how to improve driving conditions on Rt. 515. Perhaps the current administration will decide the matter before another July has come and gone.

Disquieting Bear News...

Increasingly troublous bear encounters reported locally, including a particularly nasty contretemps between the bears and the Stillwater family of Susan and Adam Snover. Those are the folks who had a female bear break into their car last month, trash its interior to shreds, and then break a window to get out.

On Thursday afternoon, another female bear attacked the Snover's 7-yr.-old dog right on their front porch and, as staff writer Susan Todd reports in the county section of today's Star-Ledger, the hysterical & screaming Mrs. Snover found herself engaged in a fierce tug-of-war as she struggled to free her dog from the bear's grip.

Incredibly, she succeeded - but at the moment she pulled her dog indoors, the bear turned to confront just-arrived Adam Stover. The bear reared up to its full height and roared at Snover before ambling back across the yard to its two cubs.
Then the bear crossed the street and swiped at one of the Snovers' neighbors.

As in the past, Fish&Wildlife officials came and tranked the bear trio.

A state biologist was quoted as saying that the aforementioned female bears are "in danger of being put down."

In the Snover's vicinity, as in many Vernon neighborhoods where anxiety re: children's outdoor safety is magnified with each bear incident, residents have a "bear alert" telephone chain to warn one another of bears on the move.

Meanwhile, reports of bear aggression in Vernon include an incident where a bear broke through a locked, solid wood door to get at garbage cans stored inside a Highland Lakes home's basement.
Highland Lakes and Barry Lakes homeowners say that, this summer, it is no longer uncommon to see several bear families traversing the backyard within the same day.

Bad enough that, for fear of intruder bears, many Wawayanda Mountain area residents no longer feel safe in their houses behind mere screen doors or sliders. But a bear tearing through a wooden door - that's a bear we'd rather not meet.

Movin' Right Along In Vernon...

7/12/00  Township-retained consultants Killam Associates of Milburn NJ told the TC that the anticipated one million additional gallons of water per day needed to service the sewers at Mountain Creek's planned development will not have much of an effect on township wells. Creek water levels may be affected, however.

The TC has appointed five residents to a steering committee which will participate in the Countryside Exchange Program conducted by the Glynwood Center of Cold Spring, NY. The committee and the Glynwood experts will foregather in Vernon this October to discuss social, economic and environmental issues of importance to the town's future. Vernon steering committee members are: Mary Emilius, Jack Smith, Wolfgang Pfeifer, Carol Gunn-Kadish, and Jack McLaughlin.

The town's historic preservation ordinance has been changed. Owners of properties nominated for designation by the Historic Preservation Commission will no longer be heard by that commission but will go straight to the Planning Board. As ever, the TC will consider the PB's recommendations and make the final decision in matters of historic preservation. Mayor John Logan commented to the effect that, since the designation process is not voluntary on the property owner's part, protested historic designations may lead to eventual abolition of the Historic Pres. Commission.

Sewer confabs involving Vernon, Hardyston and Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) will soon proceed, meeting date undetermined, topic: choosing the most suitable wastewater treatment system for the area. In choosing the kind of system to construct, a central problem seems to be the replenishment of millions of gallons of groundwater which will be taken out of Vernon Township. The future flush-o-rama pipeline will include Crystal Springs I&II developments , Mountain Creek developments, Vernon Town Center development, plus a growing number of SCMUA users in localities (e.g. Hamburg) already using the SCMUA system.

ZB Calendars Next "Tower" Session

7/6/00 The next special Zoning Board meeting specifically for the Lake Pochung cell phone tower application is scheduled for July 18th, 7:30 PM.

Sprint's attorney is expected to cross examine telecom expert Richard Wolf, whose report (which did not align with Sprint's arguments) set the cat among the pigeons at the last ZB/Tower session.

Vernon factoid: Wawayanda State Park encompasses 22,000 acres.
How many bears live there? Park officials declined to hazard a guess.
How many park rangers work there? Four, including the head ranger.

NJSenate: Nix To Bear Hunt
NJF&G Council Dissed - But Hunt Will Probably Take Place Anyway

6/27/00  Rebuking the NJ Fish&Game Council for it's recent decision to order a limited bear hunt, the NJ Senate voted 31-7 to pass a bill which would ban anything but "emergency" bear hunting in the state - but it is doubtful that the NJ Assembly will vote on the law in time to prevent a bear hunt this fall. The legislature's summer recess begins next week.

The Senate bill would also provide $95,000. for NJDEP studies re: alternative bear population control methods.

TC Votes Up Mountain Creek Zone

6/27/00 The ordinance creating the zone tailored to Mountain Creek development on the 2,000 acres owned by IntraWest was adopted last night by the Vernon TC.

Bear Hunt Gets NJ Game Council OK

6/23/00 In the teeth of anti-hunting animal rights groups, the NJ Fish & Game Council voted up a bear hunt for this fall, but conceded to a revised target harvest of 175 (was 350).

Meanwhile, back in Trenton, legislation to permanently ban bear hunting in NJ is already in the Senate hopper for Monday. If passed and signed, the law will supersede Fish & Game's bear-hunt order.

Sprint Tower Hearings Continue...

6/23/00 The plot thickened at last night's ZB meeting re: Sprint Spectrum's application to build a 150-ft. tower off Lake Pochung road.

Richard Wolf, a telecommunications consultant hired by the ZB, suggested that there were suitable, already existing alternatives to the construction of the proposed tower. Wolf also commented upon the visual impact of a 150-ft tower at the proposed location, noting that it would be visible for 50 sq. miles, and further commented on the level of electromagnetic energy such a tower might generate.

Attorneys for Sprint are NOT expected to question Wolf at the next ZB session on July 5.
At that 7/5 meeting, the ZB is to decide when the next Tower confab will take place.

KABOOM! Rocks Fly, Shower A&P Parking Lot

6/16/00 Rockblasting at the A&P construction digs sent rocks flying all over the place, damaging 20 to 30 cars in the Vernon Valley Plaza parking lot and Cider Mill parking lot.

No one was injured in the accident, which took place at 9:42 AM on Thursday. Blasting has been suspended pending an investigation by the NJ Dept. of Labor (!). Meanwhile, Austin Powder Co. has been cited for failing to control the blast and for creating high noise levels.

Didn't the same thing happen when the original crater-blasting took place?

Spa In Foreclosure

6/16/00 The Spa and its golf clubhouse are in mortgage foreclosure and slated for a Sheriff's sale on July 10. Amount sought: almost $4 mil.

County Prosecutor's Ofc To Review Pit Bull Case

6/15/00  The pit bull matter has been sent from Vernon to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office, which will review the criminal complaint against township resident David Castner.

The prosecutor's office determines whether/when a criminal complaint is to be presented in Superior Court (Newton).

TC Approves MC Zone

6/13/00 At last night's meeting the TC unanimously approved the creation of the mountain resort planned commercial development zone, a land use amendment designed primarily to facilitate Mountain Creek's resort village development (appx. 2000 units) on the Rt.94/Hamburg Mountain acreage owned by IntraWest.

More Slow News Week Fillers...

Justice Stats Shocker - U.S. Dept. of Justice (Bureau of Justice Stats) unveiled a study which proves that, in tort (injury) trials nationwide, state court judges are far more likely than juries to find in favor of the plaintiff and to impose punitive damages - moreover, the study proves that the median punitive award resulting from bench (judge) trials is three times the median amount imposed by juries.
Nationwide, according to the study, the majority of punitive awards amount to less than $40,000. .

The study, to be officially released this summer, demolishes long-held stereotypes - and would seem to discredit bigbiz/pol hype re: the burning need for legislation to restrict punitive damages.

ShopRite "Freshness" Claim On Trial - Five residents of Orange County NY have filed suit against ShopRite owners Big V supermarkets, plus parent company Wakefern Food Corp, claiming that ShopRite attempted to defraud the public by promoting "freshness" of food sold by the supermarket chain. The suit (which btw asks for $5 mil) points out that ShopRite offered to give a dollar to customers who found a food item still on sale past it's expiration date.

The five shoppers, who are representing themselves (!), say they are doing it to raise consumer consciousness of expiration dates. They have reportedly amassed a quantity of exhibits which call the store's freshness guarantee into question. They say they never failed to find "expired" food every time at a ShopRite -sometimes as many as 40 items - and that in some cases the stores refused to pay the dollar.

A 6/12/00 Middletown Times Herald-Record piece by Timothy O'Connor re: the lawsuit included a photo of a baby food can,expiration date May 1, '98, accompanied by a ShopRite cash register receipt for the product - dated Jan.22, 2000.

ShopRite says the claims are without merit and they expect to prevail in court. A spokesman for the NY State Dept. of Agriculture&Markets, which handles food complaints, commented that expiration dates are "voluntarily imposed by the industry" and that ShopRite has a "good reputation." Food industry spokesmen say that expiration dates are merely guidelines to help stores rotate their stock.
Most states legally require the marking of expiration dates on milk, baby formula and baby food. Selling food past its expiration date is not illegal.

VTHS Annual Back Porch Review Hits The Stands

The Back Porch Review, award-winning lit/art mag authored by VTHS students, is now available at various local retail estabs. and from your neighborhood VTHS lit mavens. Also available from Bd. of Ed. or VTHS offices, no doubt. Costs five bucks.

Cover to cover, an excellent publication. VWebsters, seek it out!

6/6/00 Primary Election Results

Sussex County Freeholders

for two 3-yr. seats:
D Marge Morreale 2710
D Richard Hodson 2590
R Susan Zellman 7866
R Charles Kuperus 7643
R Thomas Clark 6892

for one 1-yr. seat:
D Robert Shapiro 2833
R Harold Wirths 6889
R Glenn Vetrano 5520

Sussex County results technically not official until 15 provisional ballots are counted :)

In the Senate primary, Sussex County Dems favored statewide winner Jon Corzine (2041) over Jim Florio (1296).

Sussex County Republicans favored William Gormley (4937) over statewide winner Bob Franks (3152), Murray Sabrin (2423) and James Treffinger (1943).

Corzine received 57.9% (246,045) of all votes cast by NJDems. Florio got 42.1% (179,053). It is reported that Corzine spent about $32 mil on his primary campaign, defeating Florio (who spent $2.5 mil) .

Franks received 35.4% (95,801) of all votes cast by NJRepublicans, who had to make a choice from among 4 primary candidates.

Republican incumbent (20 yrs.!) Marge Roukema won re-election as 5th CD Representative, U.S. Congress, squeaking past challenger Scott Garrett. Roukema garnered 22,380 votes to Garrett's 20,729. In the general election, Roukema will face Linda Mercurio, who ran unopposed on the Dem line for 5th CD.

Man Kills Pit Bull

6/2/00  Vernon resident David Castner, 30, used a compound bow and expanding arrow
to kill a dog owned by his neighbors.

Castner is charged with causing the needless death of an animal, causing the torture and torment of an animal, and general cruelty to an animal.

The victim, a 3-yr.-old pit bull named J.C., was the family pet of Laurel Mack and Elyse Sorrentino. The dog did not attack Castner, who said he felt threatened. The dog's owners said that their pet was not aggressive. Circumstances of the fatal encounter have not been specified. Castner is to appear in municipal court on June 13.

Despite veterinary efforts to save the dog's life, he expired from blood loss on May 26.

Schoolbus Brute Gets 60 Days
Victims Were Tormented For Six Months

5/28/00  On May 17, a 16-yr.-old Vernon Township High School student who terrorized his bus-stop mates for 6 months was sentenced to 60 days in juvie jail (plus community service, therapy, payment of restitution to victims). He pled guilty to 2 counts of extortion.

Every day from October to March, the unidentified bully extorted up to $5.00 from schoolboys whom he brutalized at the Canadawa Lane schoolbus stop in Highland Lakes.

The extortion and violence came to light when a 15-yr.-old victim, whose injuries required medical attention, finally revealed that the bully regularly kicked him and another victim in the groin and threatened to use a metal pipe on them if they did not pay promptly. The victim's mother sought and found the aforementioned weapon at the bus stop and thereafter notified the police.

Quoted in a 5/28/00 Star-Ledger article by Gabriel Gluck & Patty Paugh, the 15-yr-old victim explained that he was loathe to rat on the bully (whom he characterized as a "sort of popular" kid at school) for fear of being further ridiculed as a non-conforming individual in VTHS society.

Other disquieting quotes in the S-L article underscored the young victims' lack of confidence in adult society's determination to protect them from humiliation and physical harm in the school environment.

Vernon school officials declined to comment for the S-L article and refused to say whether or not the convicted bully would be suspended or expelled.

HB To TC: See You Until September

5/25/00  Howard Burrell has announced that he will try to be at all Vernon TC meetings between now and September, at which time he will resign his office. The Vernon Democratic Committee will then present a list of 3 Dems from which the TC is to select HB's replacement, thus avoiding an election until the term for that TC spot expires in Dec. 2001.

This gives John Corzine plenty of time to establish permanent residency in Vernon. But wait a minute - how come HB's spot is not going to the next highest vote-getter for TC in last year's general election? That would be Francine Vince.

Historical Commission On The Ropes

5/25/00  An amendment of the town's historical preservation law will relegate the Historical Commission to voice-but-no-vote status re: historic site designation, a process which may no longer exist unless it is initiated by an historical property's owner.

Public hearing of the ordinance is slated for June 12.

EnviroCom Says Hunters, Leave Those Bears Alone

5/25/00  The township's Environmental Committee voted 6 Aye, 1 Nay (A. Borisuk) to pass a resolution against the state's proposed black bear hunt.

NJ FishGame&Wildlife estimates that there are about 1000 bears in the state.

They must all be in Wawayanda Park.

10 Picks for Local Farm Preservation
State, county to pay $2.7 mil protection

5/25/00  Ten farms made the Sussex County Freeholders' List of farmland properties whose owners are to be compensated (for keeping their properties as farmland) by the taxpayers. Six of the farms are in Wantage. Among the four non-Wantage farms on the list is the 268-acre Kadish farm in Vernon, which stands to receive $723,600. The ten farms account for a combined 1,300 acres, bringing the protected-farmland total to 6,300 acres in Sussex County.

At Least It Wasn't A Sacred Burial Ground...
Future Vernon Park Was Preferred Hangout Of Many Prehistoric Tribes

5/21/00 A state-registered archaeological dig, chock full of Native American artifacts, is located in part of the township's to-be-developed recreational parkland on Maple Grange Road.

It would appear that the NJ State Museum-registered section of the Fagan property, purchased by the township for public recreational facilities, escaped the attention of town officials until this week.

The oversight will now cause a temporary delay in the planning phase of the estimated 15-yrs.-away park while the town finds out what to do in such a case.

The Native American artifacts site on the town-owned park property has been proposed for designation as an historical site by the town Historical Preservation Commission - a move which has exacerbated tensions between the TC and the Historical Preservation Commission.

VWEBsters who are interested in this issue may want to read what Jacobus has to say about it.

Fierce Storms!

5/18/00 Another torrential electrical storm pelted our area tonight - not quite as ferocious as the 5/13 storm (which featured tornadic winds) but wreaking havoc while it lasted. Power lines and trees got a severe thrashing hereabouts.

Hats off to the Vernon Township Fire Department for working shoulder to shoulder with VPD during the crisis.

mad hatterIn The MRPCD Zone
VWeb Tyrants editorial

A proposed mountain resort planned commercial development zone is now being considered by the town gov't as a way of expediting Mtn Creek development. A public hearing on the matter is slated for May 22, last we heard.

Meanwhile, some folks have noted that this sounds a bit like spot zoning. Whazzat? Evidently, spot zoning is a zoning law amendment which is enacted solely for the benefit of a certain applicant and is not part of a town's comprehensive zoning plan. A zone change designed primarily to permit a single owner to establish a particular use presents a difficult issue as to whether a public benefit resulted from the zone change.

'Spot zoning' is the use of the zoning power to benefit particular private interests rather than the collective interests of the community." Taxpayers Ass'n of Weymouth Township, Inc. v. Weymouth Township, 80 N.J. 6, 18 (1976)

Nah, the MRPCD zone amendment isn't spot zoning. It benefits the collective interests of the Vernon Township community, right?

Bd of Ed/TC Budget Confab
$1 Mil Budget Cut = $0.00 For Summer School

5/9/00  A $1 mil reduction agreed upon by Bd of Ed and TC members will be partly achieved by eliminating this year's summer school program, officials announced.

The summer school program was one of several items included in a separate funding question presented to (and 404'd by) township voters last month.

The tax levy effect of the budget reduction from $25.55 mil to $24.55 mil:   $1.88 instead of $1.92 per $100 of assessed property value.

For the "average homeowner" (i.e., property value assessed @ $138,813.), this 4¢ difference means taxes will only increase by $222.

The modified budget restores the $177K to pay for athletic & extracurricular activity buses, which were also part of the extra budget proposition on the defeated ballot last month.

MC Condo App Decision Next Week?

5/5/00 The Planning Board will hear further presentations re: Mountain Creek's planned first-phase condo development next week and may come to a decision Wednesday or Thursday. The PB's regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday at 7:30PM.

At the last PB meeting, several residents voiced their skepticism regarding the MC concept of resort/vacation homes. It was pointed out that, in the past, similarly intended projects in Vernon soon became year-round housing.

NOT a hoax...

5/4/00  If you receive an email with the subject line ILOVEYOU, or LOVE LETTER or VERY FUNNY, do not open the attachment; delete the entire message from your system. See details on [ r u n ]

In general, you should never open any email attachment without first scanning it with an antivirus program.


5/1/00 Matt Morley, 18, and an unidentified juvenile were arrested Friday for several Highland Lakes burglaries that took place in Feb. and March of this year. Morley is being held in the county jail on $10k bail; the minor (male) is lodged at the county juvenile detention center.

Howard Burrell Dissed

Freeholder Howard Burrell, out of town at the time, asked to participate in Wednesday's Freeholder meeting via telephone - but his request was blown off by 2 out of 4 of his fellow pols on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Freeholder JoAnn D'Angeli said she thought the request was "ridiculous" and joined newbie Freeholder Glen Vetrano in expressing concern re: the telephone bill.

But Freeholder Director John Warren and Freeholder Thomas Clark said they had no problem with H. Burrell's participation from afar, provided he paid the phone bill. No matter - the vote was 2-2, so Burrell was dissed & left out of the proceedings (which featured considerable weirdness re: SC VoTech).

Burrell's telephone participation would have been permissible under NJ's Open Public Meetings Act.

Blaze Wrecks Nelson Insurance Building
4/27/00 On Tuesday night a fire broke out at the Nelson Insurance Co. on Rt. 94, causing extensive damage to the premises.

Investigators have not yet determined what caused the blaze. No one was injured.

4/28/00  Arson investigators have concluded that the cause of this fire was suspicious.

TC: We'll Hire Consultant For School Budget

4/25/00 The TC will retain the services of a professional consultant to review the 2000-01 school budget and to recommend where cuts should be made.

Vernon Bd. of Ed.Budget , Election Voting Results, 4/18/00

Vernon School Budget   YES   734       NO   838

Public Question   YES   647     NO   927

to 3-Yr. Bd. of Ed. Terms:

Ed Gilson 742
John O'Connor 880
Joseph Sweeney 991

Proposed New Zone Tailored To Fit Mtn.Creek
4/18/00  The Vernon TC has sent the Planning Bd. a proposed new law which would accomodate Mtn.Creek's development plans on Rt. 94.

The proposed mountain resort planned commercial development zone and its specific land use requirements would conform - by and large - to the housing/village plans thus far presented by Mtn.Creek.

The proposal will be reviewed by the PB, and the TC will hold a public hearing on May 22.

Basswood Drive Scenario Prompts New Permit Rules
4/16/00 The TC will hold a public hearing on May 8 re: zoning definition of "structures" and new rules concerning applications for disposal systems.

The measures are meant to avoid future unfolding of situations like the one on Basswood Drive, where neighboring residents objected to new construction of a house that included (a) a 90-ft.-long, 7-ft.-high septic system retaining wall and (b) partial filling of a pond to facilitate construction plans.

Vernon A&P Makeover To Begin
4/16/00 The re-do of the Vernon A&P will commence this month when blasting of the rock alongside the property gets underway. Work is expected to last for six weeks - shoppers are advised to avoid the secondary entrance to the parking lot to avoid construction trucks.
The entire makeover, long delayed because sewer planning always seemed troublous in the past, is expected to be finished by next spring.

GOP Offers Scholarship
4/16/00 High school seniors who reside in Vernon Township and who are planning to attend college or technical school on a full time basis may apply for the Vernon Township Republican Organization Scholarship. The scholarship award is $1000.Applications are available at the guidance counselor's office at Vernon Township High School, Pope John XXIII and Sussex County Technical School.

Note: To raise money for the scholarships, there will be a "Beefsteak in an Igloo" dinner dance on Saturday, April 29, 2000, at the Hex 2, Mountain Creek at Vernon.For tickets to the scholarship dinner, contact Helen Carew, Chairwoman, at 764-3551.

Warwick Quarry Opposition: In Their Own Words

4/16/00 The position of the Warwick rez group which is organizing to oppose the re-opening of Dick's Quarry in Pine Island, NY can be found at their website entitled Question The Quarry

Vernon Schools Need Mo' Money

4/12/00 The Vernon Twp. Bd. of Ed. 2000/01 Budget will be presented to the voters on April 18.

Bd. of Ed. officials have explained that increased student enrollment, corresponding new hires in future, the cost of 634 present employees' benefits&contracts&state-mandated stuff, plus student transportation costs, have unfortunately combined with a serious drop in state aid this time out.

There will be a second public question on the 4/18 ballot which, if passed, will close the budget gap and enable the maintenance or extension of the schools' existing programs.

The proposed budget-plus-question is expected to result in a tax rate of $1.94 per $100. of assessed value.

There are 5,457 students in Vernon Twp. public schools.

Look Out For That Quarry in Warwick

4/11/00  At Monday's TC meeting, a contingent of Warwick folks appealed to Vernon officials to oppose the slated re-opening of Dick's Quarry in the Warwick, NY hamlet of Pine Island.

Much like the recent controversy re: Southdown Quarry in Sparta, the Warwick quarry has excited serious health fears about hazardous airborne materials - i.e., tremolite (asbestos) fibers - in the quarry dust. Close to Vernon's border, Dick's Quarry has been inactive since the 1940s. The Warwick rez group will hold a forum on 4/12/00 @ 7:30PM , Pine Island Elementary School, to discuss the quarry issues.

Vernon Twp Manager Meredith Robson will send a letter of inquiry to the Town of Warwick re: particulars of the quarry application, which is now before the Warwick planning board.

Kids' Dentist 404'd

4/6/00 The NJ State Board of Dentistry has temporarily suspended pediatric dentist Dr. Kevin Ward pending a full hearing of the complaint filed against him by the Attorney General's office.
Click to 3/15/00 Local News item

ZB, Public Hear More Re: Sprint Tower

4/5/00 At the Zoning Board's 4/4/00 meeting, two more of Sprint's technical consultants fielded residents' queries about the safety, visual impact and noise potential of the 150-ft., 27-antenna cellular tower and 50- sq.ft. building which Sprint proposes to erect near Lake Pochung Road. There have been four ZB hearings on the Sprint app so far.

Yet more technical experts will be on hand for special ZB meetings on May 15, 16 and 30 about the Sprint app .

Absolutely no truth to the rumor that Sprint has added Dr. Laura to their consultant roster for future ZB meetings

Hearing Slated re: MtnCreek Condo App

4/2/00 Mountain Creek Inc. has applied to the Planning Board for preliminary and site plan approval to build 133 condo units on Sand Hill Road. Public hearing on the app is slated for April 12, 7:30, MuniBldg.

Also at the 4/12 meeting the PB may act to amend the township Master Plan.

Slow News Week Fillers:
3/28/00 The TC endorsed Intrawest/MountainCreek's conceptual plan for The Village At Mountain Creek, which will run through the resort on Rt. 94 and will feature stuff like retail stores, a clock tower, a theatre, office space and extra parking. Actual construction plans to be presented to the planning board at a later date.

3/28/00 Renewed flap, envirofolks vs. officials at TC mtg. Subject: the town's action which removed certain Vernon areas (i.e., marshland between Rts.517&94 where sewer pipes might run in future) from state Green Acres funding bill ($30 million).
Audience speeches didn't change anything.

Towers of Vernon, Part VII

3/23/00  At a special meeting on Tuesday, Sprint spectrum LP presented the Zoning Board with yet another application for a cell tower, this time adding Nextel and OmniPoint antennas to the tower's array.

The proposed 150-ft. tower plus 50x50 ft.facility would be built at a site (residential) on Lake Pochung Road, first choice of telecommunications experts hired by Sprint. Other sites were eyed by Sprint's consultants but, for various technical reasons, those alternative locations could not cut the mustard.

The Lake Pochung Rd. property is owned by Reginald and Jennifer Phillips.

The TC is still mulling over a local ordinance re: permissible cell tower location, height, etc.

On April 4 the ZB will have another meeting about the amended Sprint tower app .

Water Contamination Update

3/21/00  Elevated radium levels have been found (year-long NJDEP study) in two Sussex County water systems - both of the contaminated systems were in Vernon Township.

The radium-contaminated samples in Vernon were discovered about 6 months ago, according to Vernon Twp. Health Dept. director Gene Osias. The radium (btw, not to be confused with radon) findings recently came to public attention via an Associated Press release.

The two Vernon areas affected are (1) the Valley View apartments on Omega Drive (near the Muni bldg.) and (2) Great Gorge Terrace, a private community off Rudetown Rd., both served by private water companies.

Osias said that the Omega Drive apt. complex water has been remediated by means of water softener treatment which removes the radium (a radioactive salt). No info re: treatment of the Great Gorge Terrace community's water was available.

Meantime, no real progress re: the MTBE contamination downtown. Mobil Corp. is still working with the DEP to come up with a "pump & treat" system to try to reduce the underground spread of the MTBE (a carcinogen) plume throughout the aquifer.

Although the MTBE contamination (from Mobil station's underground fuel tank spill 11 years ago) can never actually be undone, Osias said that thanks to filtration systems the drinking water from the affected wells is safe.

Kids' Dentist Under Investigation

3/15/00 Dr. Kevin Ward, who practices pediatric dentistry at offices in Vernon, Union City and Maywood, is the target of an investigation by Hudson County prosecutors. The probe stems from a complaint that Ward broke a Union city patient's leg last month.

The parents of 5-year-old Mario Rivero said Ward squeezed the boy's leg with such force that the femur was broken. Hudson Cty. prosecutor Edward DeFazio said that his office has thus far withheld pressing criminal charges against Ward because "it's a very difficult case to ascertain the criminal intent."

It has been learned that, in January, Ward was sued (negligence) by the family of an 8 year-old girl for breaking her wrist during a tooth extraction in the Vernon office four years ago. In that incident, police reportedly did not press charges because the wrist-breaking was deemed an accident.

It has also been learned that in 1987 Ward lost his license for a year after a child under anaesthesia died in his office.

As of last reports, Ward continues to practice pediatric dentistry in Vernon, Union City and Maywood.


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