Environmental Commission Minutes 10-21-09 Print E-mail





Sergio Angione-absent (excused)          Victor Canning,- present

Angelo Intile-present                          David Cotter, Vice Chair- absent

Hugh Merritt-present                         Michele Caron, Chair- present

Dr. Lawrence Kornreich-present           Jim Muhaw, Alt#1- present

                                                           Ray Hinkle, Alt#2-absent



“As required by the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been provided.  The notice specified the time and place of the meeting to the extent known at the time.  The notice was posted on the bulletin board at the Municipal Building, sent to the Daily Record and was placed on file in the Township Clerk’s Office.”


Highlands & Review of Matrix – to opt in/out

This meeting was focused on the review of the Highlands as to whether or not the Township should opt in or out of the Planning Region.  The Planning Board meeting of 10/22/09 is dedicated to this review and will render their recommendation to Township Committee for decision making at their level.

The Commission chair invited several to assist the Environmental Commission on their review/recommendation process welcoming members Kate Millsaps, Elliott Ruga, Dave Pipher from the Highlands Coalition of Boonton.

The Montville Environmental Commission discussed whether the Environmental Commission should make a statement as to whether they believe Montville should opt in/out of Highlands Land Use Ordinance.

Dr. Lawrence Kornreich did not understand the use of the matrix voicing concerns as to how the environmental commission was to apply their comments within the matrix since it was yes/no answers.  He was unclear whether the commission was suppose to address the highlands matrix as a whole or just the information pertaining to the environmental commission. 

Town council member Tim Braden explained that matrix was mass produced for the use of all committees and that was the reason there are issues other then the environmental commission was because it went to all agencies in community.   

Victor Canning explained that the council had a right under state statue to give their advice and make a statement about how they’re opining towards this issue.

Dave Pipher explained that there are two issues the commission should be concerned with: 1) Matter of conforming land that is located within the Preservation Area which is mandatory and 2) Conforming to the regional master plan for lands located in the planning area.

Michele Caron asked the highlands coalition that if by opting in,  are you preventing large scale building.  Dave Pipher said yes it will be limiting.   By conforming to the regional master plan, you are adjusting the development that is allowed in town in the broadest sense to resource restrictions on those issues the highland council believes are here.

Michele Caron explained that the Montville township restrictions on zoning are more stringent then the highlands.  Therefore Hugh Merritt asked if they are any unique actions to apply the stringent restrictions to the highlands package so that they are included in the highlands for Montville.

Dave Pipher said that you must compare the restrictions and figure out whether they are really more stringent.  Mr. Merritt then asked if Montville opts in and a large percentage or requirements are stricter then the highlands, would the town have the restrictions “god fathered in” or would they have to be re passed?  Dave Pipher explains that the highlands regs are the floor and not ceiling for restrictions; therefore you can retain the same protections.

Angelo Intile asked why is there an option to each town to be able to opt in or opt out.  Dave Pipher explained that it is not the answer to not opt in or opt out but whether to conform or not conform.  Kate Milsnaps explained that it gained more support from townships giving them the choice of either opting in or out of the planning region since they are mandated to opt in within Preservation.

Dave Pipher explained from a resource standpoint that preservation area is a high quality geographically stand point but the area most used by people became the planning area.  It is clear that there are critical resources in the preserved and planning area. Dave Pipher believes that the legislators in tent were to have core reason in highlands preserved as preservation area and allows municipality’s voluntary respond to resource protection.

Angelo Intile explained that he is not sure what the pro’s and con’s are of this highlands act and asked if someone could lay out the benefits of the town other then building less low income housing.

Dave Pipher explains that in the document that conforming would mean there would be less potential housing being built then explain in the Morris County report.( Item C page 2)

Michel Caron believed that staying in the highlands is a good thing because there would be less residential build up of housing and if their more housing the police, education, and crime of the municipality would be negatively affected.

Michele Caron made a statement that the planning board at the last meeting was not sure of the legal representation provided to us if the town stayed in conformance and also how much money in grants over a life time can the town expect because she wants to weigh this against the estimated amount of tax revenue that can be expected if the town opted out. Tim Braden explained as far as legal representation, our municipal attorney is on a retainer and should not be a factor.

Elliot Ruga believed that in the matrix what was missing was COAH vacant land analysis final build out which for Montville is 1,042 additional units. Tim Braden expressed that those houses to be built would be dictated by the highlands. Elliot Ruga explained that the total build out number is 255 and as in the final process they would have a say on which type of units and where the units are built. Dave Phiper said that this would narrow the options but make it a less of a burden for the town.  Kate Millsnaps explained that this reduce COAH’s need.

COAH number requirements are set thru to June 8, 2020. She also explained that the Town would zone where they COAH houses go but the highlands would map out which areas were allowed to have COAH homes.

Hugh Merritt asked that the highlands restrictions actually only deal with building in areas that have land sensitivities and environmentally concerned areas.  Dave Pipher explained the new homes had to match up with the ordinance and Kate Millsnaps explained the municipal ordinance will only effect future development.

Jim Muhaw asked about the requirement for COAH is 1,042.  If the town conforms, the number would go down to 255 and this is their one time offer to a lower number.  Dave Pipher explained that the lower number requirement for housing is for those who conform by June 2010 date but there is not a plan for those to opt in after June 2010.  Jim Muhaw then went on to ask what is the procedure for opting in or opt out at any time. Dave Pipher answered by explaining that once you accept to conform, you are accepted by highland council.  If you decide to no longer conform, the worst that can happen is the highlands will ask for grant money back that they had give to the town.

Angelo Intile asked if Montville still had an outstanding affordable housing number.  Victor Canning explained that a small amount exists in fulfilling the COAH requirement, he was not completely sure of the number and to contact Linda White for that exact number.  He also went on to say that the town has worked very hard to have the number of low income housing in Montville that we already have

Hugh Merritt asked Tim Braden if Township had a calculated non subjective field of what our build out is.  Tim Braden does not believe that number is available at this moment but that the town is working on buying other homes and open space to lower the number.  Hugh Merritt then asked if the number protects the township the town must have.  He then asked under the highlands philosophy is there a adjustable numbers for all towns. 

Elliot Ruga explains that COAH takes a look at your town and provides a vacant land analysis, which is the number required now:  1,042 units.  Under normal procedures you can seek an adjustment with COAH.  Under the highlands the amount of vacant area is reduced and the amount of land that can be supported by utility infrastructure is evaluated which lead to reduction in land available and sustainable capacity to support development so you have the option of using highlands numbers or whatever adjusted rate you can receive from COAH.

Hugh Merritt concerns is how you make adjustments.  Kate Millsnaps says that the number is based on residential growth.

Tim Braden asked after looking at the Matrix (page 5), that if matrix is correct, there is a thousand foot protection around the vernal pool, so if one were to draw a circle of one thousand foot around venal pool, you would lose up to seventy one acres.  Hugh Merritt said there is a strict regiment to certify something as a vernal pool. 

Jim Muhaw asked about disturbance of slopes and soil removal of lands that are being prepared to be built up.  Dave Pipher explained that they would be exempt from the highlands act because they are preexisting.

Jim Muhaw asked if Dave Pipher, Elliot Ruga, and Kate Millsaps could summarize why Montville should consider opting in to highlands.  Elliot Ruga said if you want to stabilize taxes, maintain character of community,  and retain quality of education, this would be reason since residential development ends up costing the community in taxes. 

Kate Millsaps said that open space cost thirty-five cents and residential cost one dollar and thirty cents and if you conform you will have priority over open space acquisitions over something outside of the highlands.  Dave Pipher believes the reasons for conformance is spelled out in highlands documents and most of those are including on the matrix on the first page.  He also said that you would get legal representation of the state. Also it will set you up for avenue aid and grant funding in the future.

Hugh Merritt asked about legal representation and when does it take effect:  does it occur when Montville decides to opt in or will effect situations that were preexisting that are in courts. Dave Pipher explained that it will take effect as soon as said they are conforming but will not effect preexisting situations.

Elliot Ruga mentioned something that was not in the matrix that if Montville choose to opt out that  your water quality plan would have to go before highlands coalition whether you choose to conform or not.

Kate Millsaps wanted to discuss that if their was no development how would the town get ratable noting that the benefits of regional planning will help the property tax in the long run.

Larry Kornreich was unsure on the issue of building because he was under impression that Montville was built out and does not understand as it applies to Montville noting he is confused on how this would help and apply to Montville. What is the penalty of being below the COAH numbers? What are the negatives of not being in highlands? If ordinance are strong so far, how much stronger would they be if in conformance. As for the principals of highlands, he applauds and supports them but as applied to Montville, questions how the highlands would actually apply. Michele Caron explained that this would help to apply to retain the quality of education in Montville.  Elliot Ruga explained that if you choose not to conform to regional master plan, you are not protected from COAH builders coming in to build homes and wanting to know where Montville will put the homes.

Dave Pipher explained that in many mature towns, there seems to be no room for building anymore other than the tear down phenomenon where people by single families homes that are appropriate for land and tear down home and build right up to the edges of set back and highland requirements which leads to a different kinds of community appearing: it is important to think about having multiple checks on multiple growth devices.

Victor Canning advised the commission that they should look at opting in or opting out based on environmental commission issues only.

After discussion with the highlands Michele Caron polled the votes of the Commission whether to opt in or opt out:

                        Michele Caron- opt in

                        Hugh Merritt- opt in

                        Larry Korenriech- abstain

                        Jim Muhaw- opt in

                        Angelo Intile-opt out

                        Victor Canning-opt out

Therefore the majority chose to opt in and therefore the commission needed to create a statement to present to the planning board.  The Commission statement is: that after listening to the highlands commission representatives and reviewing the matrix and it is our recommendation of the environmental commission to conform and opt in to Highlands from an environmental standpoint.

·        Earth Week – Preparing for 2010- to be discussed next month

·        Arbor Day – Preparing for 2010- to be discussed next month

·        Tree City Recertification – Preparing for 2010- to be discussed next month

·        Bike & Hiking Trails – Funding Application – to be discussed next month

·        Development of 2010 Budget- to be discuss next month

MINUTES – Adoption of minutes of 9/16/09 –  Dr. Kornreich moved to adopt minutes.  Seconded by Jim Muhaw   Unanimously accepted. 


  • Solar Program – Sergio Angione– Update- discuss next month
  • PSE&G Letter –– Update –discuss next month
  • Environmental Inventory Report – Update - Michele Caron/David Cotter – discuss next month


    • Rain Gardens-Hugh Merrit explained that Michele asked to meet with rain garden club and Rutgers.  Rutgers has funding to put three rain gardens in the state and Montville is running for a garden.  Hugh Merritt was a facilitator between Rutgers and the town council and he wanted to elevate it to the town council and planning board.  Tim Braden explained to Hugh Merritt that the Township council was aware of the garden program and that they sent them to the environmental commission to review and find an appropriate place to put the garden in the town and then once selected to approach the township council.
    • Canalase Road property (Stefannelli application) - Michele Caron asked Victor Canning if there has been any update on area because their has been construction. Mr.  Canning said that he has to pay for soil sampling because there are questions whether this is good soil. It is pending with the planning board at this moment.

·      ANJEC Events Upcoming-discuss next month

                                                   PUBLIC DISCUSSION -none

        ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned by Michele Caron at nine twenty eight pm and unanimously accepted.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Alicia Angione,


Absent with explanation

Absent with explanation

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 )
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