The meeting of the Hudson Essex Passaic Soil Conservation District was held in accordance with the Open Public Meeting Act; advance notice was given to the press (The Star Ledger and Herald News newspapers) and posted. The meeting was also advertised on HEP’s website.
Members and public present were as follows: Supervisors Matt Ward, John Sarnas, Mario Tridente, Gray Russell, and Jerry Flach; Glen Van Olden, Director; staff members Matt D’Alessandro, Fran Aguirre, Janet Rekesius and Dave Malka; Dr. Amy Rowe, Environmental and Resource Management Agent for Essex and Passaic Counties; Carrie Lindig, NJ State Conservationist; and Dan Mull, District Conservationist, USDA/NRCS.
The public meeting was called to order by Matt Ward at 7:07 p.m.
Matt Ward introduced and welcomed Carrie Lindig, NJ State Conservationist.
Matt Ward called for a moment of silence to honor Charles Kuperus, former NJ Secretary of Agriculture, and George Kuehm, Wayne NJ farmer, both of whom passed away recently.
The minutes from the December 3, 2015 meeting were reviewed. M/M Mario Tridente, M/S Jerry Flach and passed unanimously, with Matt Ward abstaining, to accept the minutes.
Glen reviewed HEP’s Treasurer’s Report and banking accounts for the month of December 2015. M/M John Sarnas, M/S Gray Russell and passed unanimously to accept the Treasurer’s Report for the month of December 2015.
SOIL EROSION AND SEDIMENT CONTROL PLANS
Glen Van Olden reviewed the Soil Erosion & Sediment Control Plans certified in December 2015. M/M Gray Russell, M/S John Sarnas and passed unanimously to accept all actions taken on Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plans certified in the month of December 2015.
CORRESPONDENCE /NEWS 2016 NJ State Agricultural Convention
The district received a letter dated 12/11/15 from Nancy B. Wood, NJDA Convention Coordinator, informing on the 2016 NJ State Agricultural Convention. The convention will be held on Wednesday, 2/10/16, and continue on Thursday, 2/11/16, at Harrah’s Resort & Waterfront Conference Center in Atlantic City.
Charles Kuperus Obituary
Charles Kuperus, former NJ Secretary of Agriculture, passed away on 12/30/15. M/M Gray Russell, M/S John Sarnas and passed unanimously to donate $100 to the NJ Agricultural Society in his memory.
A ground breaking ceremony was held on 12/15/15 for the Kearny dog park on Passaic Avenue. HEP Supervisor Mario Tridente and his 190-pound Irish Wolfhound were featured in the local newspaper/internet article.
2016 NJ State Soil Conservation Committee (SSCC) Meeting Schedule
The 2016 SSCC meeting schedule was announced but the meeting originally scheduled for January 11, 2016 has been cancelled.
Matt Ward brought up the Northeast Meeting to be held in August in NJ. Matt informed that he had already spoken to Ray Cywinski about including Northern NJ issues such as urban renewal.
Ferdows Ali – Retirement
On 12/8/15 Dr. Mohammad Ali sent a “farewell” e-mail regarding his impending retirement.
Cedar Grove Environmental Commission – West Essex Trail
Glen was asked for his assistance in inspecting the West Essex Trail in Cedar Grove for the Environmental Commission and to report on the degradation of such which he did in a letter dated 12/23/15 to Dinah Perkins.
SSCC 8/10/15 Meeting Minutes
The minutes state that a letter was received from legislators regarding “excessive” fees charged by Morris, Sussex, and Warren SCDs. HEP is not aware of the outcome. Matt Ward asked Glen to get a copy of the SSCC’s response letter.
2016 NJ State Holidays
Frank Minch advised of the 2016 NJ State Paid Holidays in an e-mail dated 12/8/15.
CHAPTER 251 Paterson Cooperation/Obligations
Glen informed that although there have been recent communications between the SSCC, HEP, and some mid-level Paterson personnel, concerns remain regarding Paterson’s recent lack of cooperation, presumably from recent retirements and the exodus of key staff in the city’s Division of Community Improvements and in the Construction Department. Jerry Flach commented that the bigger picture is the distribution of construction department funds being distributed to the general fund, thereby contributing to the under-staffing of the construction department. It is becoming a systemic issue, in part, due to cost saving measures by towns. Many towns have only part-time construction officials and have cut staff in their building/construction departments.
HEP finally received and certified the SESC plan for the Paterson Armory which was destroyed by a fire in November 2015 and demolished.
The Vistas project and the Armory project, which both started with no SESC certification, were featured in various newspaper articles due to lack of SESC certification prior to Paterson allowing work to proceed. After the newspaper articles, Ruben Gomez, Paterson’s Director of Economic Development, contacted Glen.
A meeting has been scheduled for 1/27/16 with Paterson officials. Glen Van Olden and Frank Minch will be attending.
Assumption of Risk, Release and Hold Harmless Agreement
The Bergen SCD advised the SSCC that one of their project owners/contractors was requiring the SESC inspector to sign an Assumption of Risk, Release and Hold Harmless Agreement before being allowed on the premises to perform SESC inspections. The NJ DAG has determined that no SESC inspector needs to sign this type of agreement. When the SESC applicant signs the SESC application, the applicant is agreeing to allow District agents to go upon project lands for inspection.
Soil Restoration Standards
In a memo dated 12/4/15 from John Showler, P.E., to Secretary Fisher, John summarizes the Soil Restoration Standards Changes Pursuant to P.L. 2010, Chpt. 113. Gray Russell questioned if there was a standard for soil quality, but Glen advised that none existed but rules may be promulgated.
Administrative Bulletin 2015-3.0, with an effective date of 12/14/15, provides guidance relative to Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan Certification in conjunction with the ending of the Permit Extension Act, N.J.S.A. 40:550-136.1 et seq. SESC projects covered under PEA must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to establish their specific expiration date in conjunction with the tolling period established by the Act. Owner/applicants of eligible projects must be contacted in writing advising that the certification of the SESC plan will expire. There is a specific administrative labor-intensive procedure that SCDs must follow.
GENERAL BUSINESS Additional Staff – Hiring
Glen had previously advised that the district was ready to hire an additional full-time employee which was a condition of HEP’s last fee increase. A help-wanted ad was posted on HEP’s website, the NJ League of Municipalities website, and e-mailed to all NJ SCDs and to NRCS.
EXTENSION – Dr. Amy Rowe, Environmental & Resource Management Agent
The Rutgers VETS graduated thirteen veterans on 12/12/15 in Newark, NJ. The next program will start in May 2016. More information can be found at www.rutgersvets.org Recruitment is underway for the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program. The class starts on 1/25/16 and will meet in Wayne. The format is similar to the Rutgers Master Gardener program, but the focus is solely on environmental issues. More information can be found at www.envirostewards.rutgers.edu The Rutgers Organic Land Care course is coming up February 1-3, 8, and 9 and will be held at the County College of Morris. More information can be found at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/organiclandcare/ The search is currently on to fill the vacant Passaic County 4-H Agent position. The committee has reviewed applications and interviews will be on 1/21/16.
The search is also on to fill the vacant Passaic County Agricultural Program Associate position. The job opening will be posted next week. This is the third search for a viable candidate.
Dan Mull, District Conservationist Dan informed on nine NRCS practices implemented in Passaic County in 2015.
Dan also commented that Cliff Lundin, District Manager of the Sussex SCD, met with Senator Steve Oroho resulting from the inquiry into Chapter 251 fees.
Carrie Lindig, NJ State Conservationist Carrie Lindig introduced herself to all present. Matt Ward had invited her to our meeting to discuss how to integrate what NRCS does now to urban areas such as Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson, the three largest cities in NJ. She informed on what NRCS is doing in other urban areas, and what other NJ SCDs are doing and stated that Secretary Fisher calls weekly for urban agriculture updates.
There was a lengthy back and forth discussion regarding urban agriculture programs, grants, etc.
SSCC/NJDA– Absent –
Glen Van Olden indicated that the attendance of an SSCC representative at future HEP meetings would be sporadic until a new SSCC employee is hired to replace Ferdows who retired in December 2015.
There being no further business, M/M John Sarnas, M/S Gray Russell and passed unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m.