VWeb Local News
2002
Hamburg Mountain
First Big Snow of Winter 2002

12/5/02    Sure, it snowed on Thanksgiving this year - but today's snowfall was the real thing.
It started last night and, by about 3:30 p.m. today, with no end in sight, about 8 inches of the white stuff had piled up on the higher elevations surrounding the valley.
Schools were closed. Road travel was treacherous.
Motorists were well advised to stay home and enjoy the winter wonderland.

If this is global warming some folks will be very disappointed, but patrons of the local ski resorts will be thrilled to pieces.

The Ice Storm

11/20/02 On Saturday,Nov. 16, a violent ice storm swept down on Vernon and the entire surrounding area.

The power went out all across town, and a night of sheer terror began for thousands of local households. It was worse for those whose communities are situated at the highest elevations.

Many communities endured a nerve-serrating cannonade of falling trees and branches, exploding transformers, and splitting tree trunks all night long. The earth shook as towering trees became uprooted and thundered to the ground, some taking other trees down like a line of dominoes. Several people in Highland Lakes and Barry Lakes reported seeing lightning, or "red lightening," accompanying the cyclonic wind and freezing rain in the middle of the night.

And throughout it all, the howling of the northeast wind never ceased, nor did the constant hiss and crackle of ice falling and timber shattering all around.
As one Highland Lakes resident said, "it was like all the trees were exploding."

DPW crews, utility and emergency service personnel were in fear of their lives throughout the night, and into the wee hours of Sunday, as tree limbs and power lines fell on all sides of them while they worked. It was as if a giant scythe was mowing down all in its path. Treetops were torn off, their trunks and limbs driven into the ground like giant spears.

Flatlanders can have no idea what it was like in the surrounding hills, where veterans of past ice storms said they had never experienced such a terrifying ordeal.

There was no let-up until Sunday morning, when the shelling finally ceased. Sleet and rain pelted those who ventured out of their houses to survey the the full extent of the devastation : countless fallen trees and branches on all sides, roads blocked by hundreds of snapped or dangerously sagging power lines, icy rooftops punctured by huge tree limbs or bashed in by huge tree trunks, utility poles down, cars smashed to pieces under the weight of fallen oaks and maples, hundreds of trees tangled in the power lines, and hundreds more bent over the lines from the weight of the ice. Some residents had their electric service restored on Sunday, but most households in the hardest-hit sections had no lights, heat or water until Monday night , and many homes were without electricity until Tuesday - some still did not have electricity as of this writing, despite 'round-the-clock efforts by the electric utility crews to restore the power lines.

Highland Lakes Clubhouse remained open 24 hours, providing a haven of warmth, food and even overnight shelter to many who would otherwise have suffered during the power emergency. Community residents came by to fill up their water jugs, to exchange reports on neighborhood conditions, to store food in the club's capacious refrigerators, and to get "updates" about the progress of the repair effort.
Many wanted to make sure that their homebound neighbors were being contacted and cared for, as some elderly residents might be reluctant to leave their homes for temporary shelter, and others might be unaware of available shelter or help during the crisis.
Also, local churches opened their doors to serve those in distress, or those who just needed warmth, a cup of coffee, and a respite from long hours of stress.

There were some reports of price-gouging for motel rooms in Vernon, and of gross profiteering by itinerant hustlers who offered to chain-saw /remove obstructing branches "for $700. cash" or who trolled around hawking generators from the back of a truck, etc.

But the greedheads who tried to exploit the situation were vastly outnumbered by the decent folk who freely offered help to their neighbors, the utility linemen and telephone company guys who worked non-stop in the teeth of inclement weather and under very hazardous conditions, the local tradesmen who voluntarily helped clear the roads of fallen debris, and of course the emergency volunteers and government employees who worked tirelessly to maintain a climate of safety and order.

Hats off to them, one and all.


2002 General Election Nov. 5

11/06/02 The polls were open in Sussex County from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Nov. 5, 2002 for this year's general election.

Here are the winners and vote totals:

U.S. Senate
Douglas R. Forrester, Republican 887,287
Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat 1,090,490
Ted Glick, Green Party 23,004
Gregory Pason, Socialist Party 2,655
Elizabeth Macron, Libertarian Party 12,595
Norman F. Wahner, NJ Conservative Party 6,284

House of Representatives, 5th Congressional District
Scott Garrett, Republican 116,181
Anne Sumers, Democrat 74,124
Michael J. Cino, Lower Tax Independent

County Clerk
Erma Gormley

Freeholder (3 year term)
Gary Chiusano, Republican 21,348
Howard L. Burrell, Democrat 17,545

Freeholder (one year unexpired term)
Glen Vetrano, Republican

In Vernon there was a municipal public question on the ballot, as follows:

Shall Ordinance #02-21 bonding $1,999,000.00 for construction, development and improvement of park and recreation facilities at the Maple Grange Community Park and related Township facilities, in the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey be ratified?
YES 3,158    NO 3,337

Newzbits 9/30/02
Court Rejects TC's Bid To Gag Patterson & Maple Grange Plaintiffs

8/29/02 Recently the TC asked Judge MacKenzie to impose a gag order on all the plaintiffs in the Maple Grange case, and to find Rick Patterson in contempt of the court's June 4, 2002 order permitting the town to develop the "non-historic" 140 acres of the 180-acre Maple Grange property.
The town's motion was denied.

Patterson drew fire from the TC last month when he notified the media & gov't agencies about what was discovered at Maple Grange during a group look-see conducted by the town's Environmental Committee.
What the group reportedly saw was bulldozing, land-clearing, and dozens of cut-down trees on 13 acres of the tract, construction projects for which the town did not have proper permits and federal approvals.
The TC took it ill that Patterson informed the gov't and the news media of these developments, and also complained that Patterson had no business observing the conditions of any acreage but the historic preservation area last month, and should have absented himself immediately after accompanying the group to its tour destination.

In July the TC filed a motion to have Patterson held in contempt of court and to bar him and the LenniLenape from "interfering" with the TC's construction plans for rec fields and a cell tower on the rest of the Maple Grange property. Evidently the TC felt that Paterson's public criticism of the twp.'s development plans had somehow violated the judge's order allowing the twp. to develop its non-historic acreage.

On August 27, the judge ruled against the TC, saying that Patterson did not violate the court's order by telling the media and the government about what the town was doing on the rest of the Maple Grange property.
MacKenzie's ruling also thwarted the TC's bid to silence the plaintiffs' free speech ["interference"] regarding Vernon Township's plans for building a cell tower, rec fields, etc. on the land.

The TC is also appealing to the state to overturn NJDEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell's designation of 40 acres (Black Creek site) of the Maple Grange property as an historic site, now included on the state register of historic places.


Trouble For Lake Wanda Community (Aquatic And Human Alike…)

8/13/02 The NJDEP might drain the water out of Lake Wanda - which is no longer at its best after years of neglect - because a breach in Lake Wanda's dam might allow possibly contaminated water to flow into Lake Wawayanda.
It is considered a low-hazard dam, but it did not escape the attention of the DEP.

Staff at Wawayanda State Park alerted the NJDEP to Lake Wanda's troublous condition earlier in the spring. The state agency's resulting calls for maintenance/inspection reports went unanswered by Lake Wanda owner Grace Schwarz, 84, of Montville.

Dennis Schwarz, son of the owner, said that about 30 of the Lake Wanda community's appx. 300 residents paid annual lake dues of $350. over the years, but that he did not ask for the dues this year, and can no longer afford to keep the lake in any case.

News of the DEP's intention to drain their lake prompted a mass meeting of Lake Wanda residents, who may now form a dues-paying association in order to purchase the lake, its dam, the beach, and the land behind the dam for $30,000. from the lake's owner. Some Lake Wanda residents said they were never asked to pay lake dues, and some were irate at the owner's failure to properly maintain the lake. Most were apprehensive about the effect on their property values should the DEP drain the water and leave a swamp in their midst.

The DEP has postponed action for awhile in view of the Lake Wanda community's recently initiated organizing efforts.

Lake draining kills fish. Among them, in the case of Lake Wanda, might be the ancient bowfin (hit the link) - long considered a non-native "trash" fish, but now a candidate for the endangered species list in this region...


Ballots And Bullets : Bad News For Bears?

7/26/02 The TC may use the November general election ballot to conduct a non-binding referendum re: a bear hunt.

As a rule, public questions on the election ballot - whether submitted by public petition or by the council itself -apply to the adoption or rejection of local ordinances and propositions (e.g., financing of park construction, sewer construction, etc. etc.).

A "bear hunt question" to be put to Vernon voters will evidently be used as an opinion poll on statewide policy concerning bear population control. Using the general election ballot for this sort of non-binding public opinion survey was the suggestion of Mayor John Logan.

At their Aug. 13 meeting, the TC is accordingly expected to vote on a resolution to add a bear hunt referendum to the Nov. ballot.

Here's a public opinion question : "Did He who made the bear make thee?"

Park/NoPark Vote Slated

6/25/02  Here's the latest bond ordinance: $1.9 Mil, which will finance municipal construction of a soccer field, two baseball diamonds, a softball field, a roller hockey rink, roads, parking and drainage.
Want to pay for it or not?

The TC has decided to put this question to its constituents in a referendum on the November ballot, having rescinded the ordinances approving the $4.7 Mil bonding duo, previous entry in a series of municipal financing plans for initiating construction of sports facilities at the Maple Grange property.

The TC has fought mounting opposition to its successive (and successively rescinded) municipal bonding ordinances beginning with the original $8 Mil bonding whopper, repackaged to feature the $4.7 Mil ballpark-building debt which inspired a 1,700 signature petition for a public referendum on the matter.
In some quarters it is felt that the twp. should take advantage of the state's Green Acres funding program for public park construction instead of obligating municipal taxpayers to entirely finance the planned park developments.
In other quarters it is felt that Green Acres public land use conditions will thwart the TC's plans for future infrastructural developments on the town-owned property, and will thwart plans for commercial apps speculatively presented as revenue producers for the township.

Monday's TC meeting was attended by about 80 folks who engaged town officials in animated debate for two hours.
The upshot was that the first reading of the latest ordinance was approved by the TC. If finally approved on July 8, the $1.9 Mil municipal financing of the initial park construction is to be accepted or rejected by twp. voters in a Nov. referendum .

Councilman Ira Weiner reportedly provided the evening's most brilliant flash of illumination: "This will never be over until the people vote."


Ballpark Bonding 404'd By TC To Void Petition, Trump Referendum
Threepeat of TC's bond ordinance do-overs expected

6/12/02  On Monday night the TC voted 4-0 to rescind their "ballpark bonds" vote ($4.7 mil for Maple Grange ballfield development).
By means of this latest rescission the TC has nullified the officially validated public petition to repeal the bonds, thus also dodging a November public referendum on the specified bond issue.
It is expected that TC members will now reshape the bond ordinances for a third try at municipal financing of sports fields on the Maple Grange property.


6/10/02 The eVoice page is back on VernonWeb eZine as of midnight tonight.
Gov Announces "Save Hamburg Mtn" Pact

6/7/02 On Monday, 6/3/02, Gov. James McGreevey announced that the state will fork over $7 Mil to IntraWest Corp. for 467 acres of Hamburg Mountain in a land deal which also features Intrawest's donation of an adjacent 1,262 acres. The deal pretty much restores Hamburg Mountain to its pre-1986-land-deal status as state conservation land. NJ will also kick in an additional $360,000 this year for upgrades to Rt. 94 in Vernon.

The way to the state's land buyback deal was paved by state legislation (A 3798) introduced Nov. 8, 2001, which directed the state's acquisition of Hamburg Mtn. for conservation purposes.

The way to "save Hamburg Mountain" state legislation was paved by the enviro-lawsuits activated in response to Vernon Twp's "spot-zoning" ordinances, which had paved the way to the TC's Dec. 2000 approval of IntraWest's Mountain Creek general development plan. The IntraWest plan, which involved resort/housing construction on deed-restricted. property, was reminiscent of similar attempts over the years since 1986 to develop resort housing projects, golf courses, hotels etc. etc. on deed-restricted Hamburg Mountain land.
Given that history, the TC's IntraWest-tailored zoning and approval of the MC development plan had the effect of waving a red flag in Vernon's political pasture.

The ensuing TC/ IntraWest/ Mountain Creek publicity campaigns, waged in hopes of mobilizing public opinion in the developer's favor, highlighted the expense visited upon the taxpayers as a result of costly lawsuits brought by "a tiny minority" against the TC and IntraWest.

By the end of 2001, and as a new NJ Governor took office, the public mood appeared to be swinging towards "save the mountain" and away from "save the developer."

The political parade route was corrected on the eve of this month's political primary elections. Local pols and IntraWest consultants took credit for the correction and dropped in at the tail of the Save Hamburg Mountain parade.

The enviro-coalition will reportedly take a close look at the final Hamburg Mountain deal before withdrawing their lawsuits.


Municipal Bond Referendum Gets Green Light

5/31/02 The township clerk has certified the petition to repeal the two bond ordinances ($4.7 mil for park construction projects)and put the bonds to a public referendum.
The bond question will be on the general election ballot in November.


Petition Filed Re: Municipal Bonding Issue

5/22/02  A public petition calling for the repeal of two "ballfield bonding" ordinances was submitted to the town clerk yesterday.

Taken together, the two bond ordinances represent appx. half of the total $8 mil bonding plan initiated and approved by the TC for development of the Maple Grange property. The petition drive's organizers take the position that a referendum should be presented to the voters for approval or rejection of the two bond ordinances, which are to provide financing for construction of sports facilities on the twp.'s Maple Grange parkland.

The petition has reportedly been signed by 1,756 registered voters; according to the organizers, only 864 such signatures were needed to satisfy legal requirements.

Should the petition be validated, the TC will either have to rescind the bond ordinances or submit the bond issue to a public vote (referendum) in compliance with regulations set forth in the town charter .

The TC's original $8 mil megabond ordinance triggered serious controversy at the TC's meeting on April 29, at which time the TC voted to approve that ordinance. A petition drive was lauched at once by dissenting members of the public. The TC then rescinded its vote, thus voiding any public petitions re: the initial ordinance, which was replaced overnight by three separate, TC-approved ordinances. The "ballfield bonding" ordinances account for $4.7 mil of the $8 mil municipal bonding thus repackaged and approved by the TC.

It is possible that the bonding ordinance(s) will be repackaged by the TC yet again in order to void the petition submitted yesterday.


Gov Makes The Rounds

5/15/02 Governor James McGreevey buzzed around Sussex County yesterday, visiting four towns, inspecting various projects of local interest, and conferring with local pols and constituents. He also attended a closed confab at Intrawest/ Mountain Creek in Vernon re: the impending state buy-back of land atop Hamburg Mountain.


TC Approves Ordinances For Bonds Totalling $8 Mil

5/2/02  The three mini-bond ordinances totalling appx. $8 Mil were unanimously approved by the TC this week. Bonding for construction of football fields ($1.4 Mil) and park development ($3.2 Mil) on the Maple Grange property was the bone of contention amongst residents at the meeting.

Members of the public who are critical of the TC's fiscal plan re: football fields and park development have initiated a petition drive to put the bonding issue to a public referendum, a movement which has activated a vigorous TC campaign urging residents not to sign any such petition.
Should the requisite number of signatures be collected, the bonding issue would be put to a public vote on the November general election ballot.


School Board Election/Budget Vote Results

4/17/02 Vote tallies in yesterday's School Board election were as follows:

For 3, 3-year seats
Alison S. Callow 1516
Cynthia Auberger 1,235
David E. DeMartino 1,188
Edward DeYoung 1,067
Dee Silva 845

Budget
Yes 1099
NO 1144


Breakneck Road Project Will Close Hill To Traffic

4/12/02  For 4 weeks beginning April 22, Breakneck Road between Muscoda Road and Mordaunt Road will be closed to all traffic. The contractor will maintain at least one lane of traffic along all other sections of Breakneck during the construction project.


School Board Election, Budget Vote, April 16

4/12/02 Polls will be open from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on April 16, 2002 for the election of three members to serve three-year terms on the Twp. Board of Education. The candidates are:

Alison S. Callow
Edward W. DeYoung
Cynthia Auberger
Dee Silva
David A. DeMartino

Voters will also decide to accept or reject the $27,680,176.00 School Budget proposed for 2002-2003.


Negative Feedback Prompts TC To Alter MegaBonding Plan
TC's OK Of $8 Mil Bond Activated Opposition, Calls For Public Referendum

4/12/02 On Monday night the TC approved an $8Mil bond ordinance, but then reconvened at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning to rescind the megabond ordinance and replace it with three separate minibond ordinances.

The TC's do-over confab ensued after members of the public made it known at Monday's meeting that they were opposed to the $8Mil bond, largest in township history, and would initiate a petition for a referendum to put the bond ordinance to a public vote.
But, now that the subject bond ordinance no longer exists, such a petition is voided.

Now a public hearing and second reading of the three minibond ordinances, which collectively replace the megabond, is scheduled for the April 22 meeting of the TC.

The 3 minibond ordinances are roughly as follows:

  • Appropriate $3.374 Mil and authorize $2.498 Mil in bonds or notes for various improvements in the township (maint. Of buildings,parks,property; purchase new emergency services equipment; improvements to storm water drainage system; equipment for DPW: acquisition of land for emergency services tower)
  • Appropriate $1.4 mil and authorize $1.3 mil in bonds or notes for construction of football fields and park-related facilities
  • Appropriate $3.325 mil and authorize $3.166 mil in bonds or notes for construction of park facilities


Brush Fire Destroys Part Of Marshlands in Glenwood

4/3/02  A fire blazed through the dry marshlands around the ApTrail near Goldenrod Place and Carol Drive off Rt. 517 in the Glenwood section of Vernon yesterday afternoon. The blaze started at about 3:15 p.m.
Seven local fire departments, plus state forest fire trucks and water-dropping planes, responded the scene of the quickly spreading fire which destroyed an estimated 50 to 100 acres before it was finally extinguished at 8:00 p.m.
There were no injuries and no houses in the vicinity were damaged but it was nevertheless a fearsome experience for homeowners in the community, some of whom were evacuated until the danger to their property had passed.

Hats off to the Vernon, Highland Lakes,Pochuck, McAfee,West Milford,Pine Island NY, and Hardyston fire departments, and all other emergency service volunteers who responded to the scene or who were on stand-by at local firehouses for the duration.


Black Creek Site: TC's Last Stand, Again…
Reacting to the Vernon TC's "construction contract awarded " maneuver, timed to predate a state action affecting the TC's development plans for Maple Grange Park, NJDEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell invoked his authority as the state's historical preservation officer - and immediately placed 40 acres of Maple Grange turf under NJDEP protection.

4/3/02  On Monday, April 1, two days before the state's Wednesday, April 3 hearing re: the final designation of the Black Creek/Maple Grange historical site boundaries, the Vernon TC awarded a contract ($1.3 million )for construction at Maple Grange.
The contract was awarded to lowest bidder Rochelle Contracting Co. of Landing, NJ at a special TC meeting held Monday night. Public notices of the meeting were published last week.
NJDEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, well aware of the twp.'s recent solicitation of contractor bids for the Maple Grange job, and aware of the TC's special meeting, personally phoned Vernon twp. officials on Monday to suggest that the twp. wait for the results of the April 3 hearing in Trenton before entering into a construction contract to build anything on the subject property.
Evidently the TC blew him off, whereupon Campbell sent Vernon Twp. an official, signed-and-time-dated letter notifying them that the Vernon TC's continuing efforts to undermine the processes of NJ state historic preservation had caused him to exercise his authority as the State Historic Preservation Officer in New Jersey.
Campbell's letter went on to inform the TC that he had personally reviewed the Black Creek site nomination, and had designated 40 acres of the Maple Grange property historic and worthy of preservation.
[Based on aerial photos showing the exact boundaries of the site, which contains artifacts dating as far back as 8,000 years, Wednesday's state hearing would most likely have resulted in historic designation of those 40 acres anyway.]
As to the April 1 construction contract award, Campbell noted the township's attempts "to create circumstances it believes would exempt future encroachment on the site from review by the DEP."
He later said that he would have preferred to go through the scheduled review process, but had taken action as the state historic preservation officer because he didn't want to put the site at risk.
Yesterday, twp. attorney Joseph Ragno responded to Campbell with a letter claiming that Campbell's actions circumvented due process of the state historic preservation review scheduled for April 3.
The TC is now considering a courthouse battle against the Black Creek site's historic designation.


March 2002 Assorted News Notes

Drought - The state finally declared a water emergency and issued relatively mild "first phase" restrictions (no lawn watering etc.) re: residential water use. No industrial or commercial water use restrictions issued as yet in our area.

Maple Grange - Although the twp. has given public notice inviting submission of bids, the construction plans for the ballfields appear to be in abeyance until April when the state delineates the boundaries of the designated historic site, i.e. The Black Creek Native American Artifacts site. There is also the matter of the continuing legal injunction against disturbing the site.

Bears in the Backyard - Police in Sparta shot a bear which may or may not have been the bear who reportedly "charged" at a house in that town. The bear, who was not shot dead on the spot, went away and may either have succumbed to its wounds or lived to charge another day.

Congressional Race, Jersey Politics- The 5th Congressional District seat held for 11 consecutive terms by Marge Roukema must be filled in this Nov.'s election. But first, the primary election: GOP candidates include NJ Assemblyman E. Scott Garrett (R-24; Sussex, Hunterdon & Morris),well known to voters hereabouts, and Bergen County state Sen. Gerald Cardinale, well known to Bergen refugees hereabouts.
The Vernon TC has announced its enthusiastic endorsement of Bergen County state Sen. Gerald Cardinale.

Of related local interest:
Four months ago (Nov. 2001), NJ Assemblymen (R -24) Guy R. Gregg and E. Scott Garrett sponsored a bill, A3798, directing DEP to acquire Hamburg Mountain for conservation purposes, and making an appropriation.
(VWebsters, your interest in local politics and history may be repaid by reading that bill, so hit the link.)

Warwick "site fight" still brewing - Grand Union closed in Warwick last year, leaving a prime piece of commercial real estate in the village's business district up for grabs. Now the Warwick Village Board is out to condemn the property, by which means they will obtain it, create a local development corporation to redevelop it, and lease it to a supermarket market of their choice.
Meanwhile, CVS (the drugstore chain) wants that primo spot in the center of the village and has vowed to fight the condemnation maneuver. A local activist group, It's Our Town, wants a food market in that spot and has been pressuring the village gov't to keep CVS out.


State Declares Drought Emergency
Gov. McGreevey Signed Exec. Order On March 4

3/5/02 Yesterday the Governor of the State of NJ officially declared a statewide water emergency.
Imposition and enforcement of water use restrictions are to be phased in gradually in accordance with region-by-region assesssments of drought severity. Priority attention in the first phase will focus on critically water-stressed zones, notably the northwest counties, where initial restrictions will prohibit water uses such as washing vehicles, filling swimming pools, watering plants and lawns, etc.


THE DROUGHT Continues...

2/28/02 As of Feb.25, Vernon officials ask all residents of the township to voluntarily restrict water use during the present drought emergency.


A T Parking Lot Plan Irks Carol Drive Residents

2/23/02  There's an Appalachian Trail entrance on Rt. 517 in the Vernon Valley section of Glenwood, and the National Park Service is considering putting a parking lot there, between the corner of Carol Drive and the 517 intersection. The idea is to provide an AT access for disabled persons.
Nearby homeowners view the proposed AT parking lot with great concern.
Several have said that it is not uncommon to see trail hikers traducing their yards, and it is feared that the proposed new parking lot may increase general AT traffic on Carol Drive.
Park authorities have said that they are not insensitive to the concerns of property owners in the trail's vicinity, and that they will work toward a mutually agreeable solution.


Local BullyBoarders Charged In Jan. Assault On 2 Skiers At MC

2/23/02  Last month (Jan.24) five snowboarders, all teenagers residing in Vernon Township, savagely attacked two adult male skiers at the top of the cabriolet lift at Mountain Creek.
The two men, ages 35 and 59, were kicked, beaten with fists, and hit with snowboards after asking the youths to stop using foul language around their children.
The 59-year-old victim suffered bruises, a facial cut that required stitches, and a knee injury that required surgery. The 35-year-old victim suffered multiple bruises.
Vernon residents Derek Semanek (19), John Haddad (19), Anthony Covello (18), Patrick Enright (18), and an unidentified 16-year-old male were each charged with 3rd degree aggravated assault and possession of a weapon. Haddad, who was arrested at Mountain Creek two days ago, was additionally charged with rioting and possession of marijuana. Semanek, arrested two days ago when he surrendered to Vernon police, was also charged with rioting.
Additional charges of rioting are pending against the three younger assailants.


Two NJ Counties Declare Water Emergency
Water Use Restrictions Imposed In Hudson, Bergen - But Not Sussex

2/21/02 Hudson and Bergen counties are not waiting for the state to stop dithering re: the clear and present drought emergency in NJ. The two counties have imposed water use restrictions on their residents in hopes that water conservation, however belated, may forestall greater hardship to those residents when warm weather exacerbates the extreme drought.

Our own local & county pols, like the state, appear to be stalled in denial mode.


Snowboarder Danny Kass Wins Olympic Silver Medal

2/12/02 Danny Kass,19-year-old native of Vernon, NJ, has won the silver medal in the Men's Halfpipe Snowboarding event at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

U.S.A. snowboarders Ross Powers (Vermont), Kass, and Jarret Thomas (Colorado)won gold, silver and bronze respectively yesterday in the first U.S. Winter Olympic sweep of an event since 1956 in men's figure skating.


Tower of Power May Rise At Last!

2/8/02 The TC is expected to sign a contract with Hopat Land Co. for property to be used as a site of the township's long-awaited communications tower.

The Hopat site has been on the back burner for several years. The township's pursuit of sites for commercial telecom tower construction was unavailing - successive proposed sites in residential communities were met with public opposition and were ultimately rejected.

Now that obstacles to acquiring the Hopat property appear to have been overcome, the municipality will be able to complete its emergency service communications system which was initiated in the early 1990s but which, lacking a final tower, has never been 100% functional.

ATTN newbie VWebsters:
One of the earliest VWeb Local News items concerning the need for a communications tower can be found in the 1998 Past News archive.
To read that '98 item, hit this link: 7/12/98 "Police Radios Fail, Criminals 'Get Over' on Vernon Patrolmen"

Many more past VWeb Local News references to the tower issue
can be found by going to the GOOGLE search engine at the top of this Local News page -
just scroll up,
select the Search www.vernonweb.com button,
type the keyword tower in the blank space,
and hit Google Search.
There are 2 pages of results from that one keyword.

BTW, links to all the pages in the VWeb Local News Archive are listed at the bottom of this current Local News page.



2/8/02 
THE DROUGHT Continues...
and as it worsens,our state, county and municipal governments are beginning to look more and more like The Three Monkeys.

Emergency restrictions on water use should have been ordered by the state two months ago, at the very least. The state has still not acted despite clear evidence of extreme drought conditions in NJ.

Back when the drought turned serious in 1999, and surely over the last year, all three levels of government should have joined forces to find solutions for water-stressed communities.

Regional planning to protect and maintain our natural water infrastructure systems should have started years ago.

As the water supply in our area continues to be extremely stressed by drought, the number of dry wells in our municipality can be expected to increase. It should be cause for concern to local officials and busineses alike that a diminishing water supply may become the biggest deterrent to development in our area.

Here in Vernon, as in the rest of Sussex County and across the line in neighboring (and indisputably overdeveloped) Orange County NY, scores of household and community wells that were capable of supplying many gallons of water per minute a few years ago are now producing nothing. Many wells continue to be unproductive even after well drillers have taken them hundreds of feet deeper, hoping to strike a stronger "vein" of water.

In several Vernon communities, well-drilling rigs and hydro-frac trucks are a fearsome sight to homeowners whose neighbors' wells have already gone dry.

County and municipal pols take it for granted that there is groundwater aplenty to meet future demands. This may not take into account that some underground water sources are more accessible, and therefore more likely to be "tapped into," than others - too many wells sucking water from one source until all those wells are like straws sucking at the bottom of a glass. The present drought should remind county and municipal pols that water, even in the most enviable aquifers, is a finite resource.
Throughout our entire region, the scramble is on to find "new" sources of usable groundwater for new municipal wells - a scramble which may lead more than a few towns to search for well fields beyond their own municipal boundaries. Lack of foresight in "suburban growth" areas has often left the best well fields contaminated or paved over.

No one can predict when a drought will end, or when the next one will begin, but our elected officials should act with foresight now to conserve and protect our present and future water supply.


VWebTyrants editorial/link
1/30/02 From time to time it is interesting to see Vernon NJ, our town, as others see it.
Botanists, for instance.

The Torrey Botanical Society in NYC is the oldest botanical society in America. It was begun informally in the 1860's under the aegis and inspiration of Dr. John Torrey, then professor of botany at Columbia College.
The organization was first named with the appearance of its first publication, The Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society, in 1870, and was incorporated in 1873.

Today, the society holds as its objectives "to promote interest in botany, and to collect and disseminate information on all phases of plant science." These objectives are fulfilled through meetings, fields trips, and publications.
Because the publications have become standard reference material for botanists, many people residing in practically every state and in a number of other countries have become members, primarily to receive the publications.
Thus, the society has become an international organization and is affiliated with the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
It differs from most scientific societies in that it conducts numerous meetings and field trips.

VWebsters, take your bp meds, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and
click here to read what the Torrey Botanical Society has to say about Hamburg Mountain and Vernon, NJ.
Vernon newbies might appreciate some of the historical notes, btw...


VCA, NJCF Join To Sue Town Re: Appalachian Lodge Approval

1/30/02  The NJ Conservation Foundation and the Vernon Civic Association have filed suit against the township, claiming the PB approved construction of the Appalachian Lodge, a phase of IntraWest/Mountain Creek development, on a lot which was set aside for open space. On Dec. 12 the PB passed a resolution waiving the restriction imposed on that lot in 1986.

The lawsuit, filed on 1/29/02, claims that the PB did not give public notice of the waiver, also noting that at the time of the preliminary site plan approval the PB did not take up the matter of waiving the '86 condtion restricting further development of living units on that particular lot. The suit also claims that MC did not provide sewage agreements and approvals which were conditions of the plan approved by the PB. The four-storey , 40000 sq.ft.Appalachian Lodge is to have 105 hotel rooms, a conference center, restaurant, bank, general store, coffee shop, etc. and underground parking lot ( one spot for each unit plus 140 spots for the shops).


Historic Preservation "Town Veto" Law is History

1/16/02 The proposed "town veto" amendment to the NJ Register of Historic Places Act was one of only three bills that were pocket vetoed (i.e., it's toast) in the last legislative session.

The amendment would have given town governments a way to thwart state preservation of historic sites located on town-owned real estate - as in the case of the Black Creek site on the Maple Grange property in Vernon.


Vernon Town Council Reorganization, Jan.7, 2002

At the TC reorganization meeting new members Greg Haines and Neil Desmond were sworn in, joining Ira Weiner, John Logan and Janet Morrison on the Vernon TC roster.
Logan and Morrison were selected to continue as Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively.



John Logan,
beginning his second stint as Mayor of Vernon, and enjoying the occasion at the Muni Bldg. in the company of his family.

Freeholder Howard Burrell administers
the oath of office to new TC member
Neil Desmond, whose family took part in the ceremony. Township Clerk Pat Lycosky looks on from the dais.

A photo of new TC member Greg Haines at the reorg. meeting was not available,
but here's a snapshot taken at Vernon EarthFest 2001

All best wishes to our Town Council in 2002!

New HLPO To Open Jan. 7

1/3/02 The new Highland Lakes Post Office is scheduled to open Monday, Jan. 7, 2002.

Grand Opening of the facility,located at 117 Breakneck Road, will be scheduled at a later date.


Text Of Mayor John Logan's Mid Term Review, Jan 2002


'Town Exemption' No Go, For Now
Ordinance Tabled After Troublous Public Meeting

12/28/01 The proposed town exemption ordinance occupied pride of place on the agenda of the TC's year-end meeting at the Muni Bldg. last night.

Over 100 members of the public attended the meeting, evidently for the chief purpose of objecting to the proposed ordinance which would give the TC leadership carte blanche for unregulated development of any lands "in which the township has a property interest."

Pro-exemption TC members' arguments had to do with their thus-far-insoluble problem of accomodating the siting needs of a commercial telecom tower - one which would make money for the town and would, as part of the deal, include an antenna free of charge for the township's use (e.g., police communication system, still lacking one antenna).

Several speakers viewed the exemption ordinance as a formula for TC-negotiated siting of telecom towers or other commercial construction in close proximity to residential property. Others called the proposed ordinance discriminatory and "imperial."

After 3 hours of often harsh public commentary, threats of petition&referendum, etc. culminating in a 5-minute recess called by Mayor Logan, the ordinance was tabled by unanimous vote of the TC members.

The TC is expected to take up the tower-siting matter again at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 7, 2002, 7 pm, Municipal Bldg.


There are two rules for ultimate success in life:
1. Never tell everything you know.

- 30 -


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