Green Team Community Education
October 27, 2009
Attendance: Cathy Harvey, Nicole Wright, Joan Best, Sandy Batty, Brian Marshall, Jerry Uhrig, Dave Fewell, Mary Rosseland, Geri and Mark Hahn, Jackie Bay; Ellen Emr, Jeana MacLeod and Doug Morrison, moderating.
Meeting Objective: To invite members of the Town’s various clubs, committees and commissions to share their viewpoint as to what the most serious environmental/sustainable issues currently facing residents of Mountain Lakes.
What is Sustainable Jersey? Presenter: Jackie Bay, Chair of Green Team
Sustainable Jersey is a municipal certification program that helps municipalities move towards a more sustainable future by providing:
· Standardized criteria for NJ communities that want to be known as “green”
· Simple web-based tools to assist in their efforts
· Financial incentives and educational resources to reward municipalities that meet the criteria
The brainchild of the League of Municipalities and the Major’s Committee for a Green Future, the Sustainable Jersey program was developed over a 2-year time frame by a team of 150 NJ leaders, experts and organizations. It was officially launched in Feb 2009 and currently has 47 municipalities have applied for certification. Certification requires the completion of tasks from a “menu”; each task earns the municipality points; 100 points is required for initial certification. Mountain Lakes passed a resolution in May 2009 that we would pursue certification via a Green Team that operates under the Environmental Commission. Team members: Jackie Bay, Kizar Sheikh, Mark and Geri Hahn, Dave Fewell, Joan Best, Mary Rosseland and Nicole Wright with Ellen Emr acting as Council Liaison.
Green Community Project: Nicole Wright presented on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She told the group about the League’s year-long project that, among other things, calculated the community’s carbon footprint, assessed energy auditors, and undertook community and Wildwood education regarding recycling. Her assessment of the top 3 priorities was: 1.) Lower household carbon footprint; 2.) Lower HH water usage; 3.) Educate about the value of eating locally. Her advice was to tackle an issue that impacts residents in terms of time, $ or health vis-à-vis “doing the right thing.”
Anjec: Sandy Batty urged the Green Team to work to lower the Borough’s carbon footprint via: 1.) Greater energy efficiency. She talked about the State $ that is available to finance audits and renovations; 2.) Alternative power sources – educate residents about potential use of solar and how SRECs work; 3.) Lower vehicle miles traveled via an increase in municipal fleet (school buses) and encouraging residents to leave their cars at home. She also asked the group to consider protecting our water supplies via a well head protection ordinance, water conservation measures and rain gardens. Lastly, Sandy spoke of the need to protect our wildlife habitat via the removal of invasives, a focus upon using native plants, and a strengthening of our tree and riparian buffer ordinances. Her advice was to pursue a mix of both municipal and residential actions for greatest success.
Whippany Watershed: Brian Marshall spoke about how we are located at the headwaters of the entire watershed – i.e., what Mtn Lakes does impacts everyone else. He said that the water that leaves our Borough contains both phosphorus and coliform bacteria. He urged us to address the quality of the surface water in Mountain Lake that is being released downstream and understand why Troy Brook is impaired.
Environmental Commission: Jackie Bay shared the group’s opinion that the Green Team should address lake water quality. All of our lakes are negatively impacted by nutrient load and sedimentation. It is possible that we should be doing more to address the sources of these problems versus treating the symptoms. Secondly, the Commission believes that the continuation of our drinking water quality needs to be addressed. We are 100% dependent upon groundwater and the majority of the acquifier and recharge area fall outside Borough limits on private land. Without a well protection ordinance here or in Denville, the guaranteed future quality of our drinking water appears to be less concrete that we would like.
Woodlands Committee: Jerry Uhrig shared his viewpoint that our woodlands are unsustainable given the deer population density and the presence of invasives that are choking out native plants. He urged us to address restoration of our natural habitat.
Dept of Public Works: Joan Nix talked about the strides that are being made in recycling in terms of education and enforcement. Although more needs to be done on that front, she did not believe it should be a focus area.
Shade Tree Commission: Wearing another hat, Joan talked about the problem of an aging tree canopy on private land. Whereas the Borough actively replaces old shade trees on Borough property, residents either tend not to do the same or, replace shade trees with ornamental trees that do not have the same beneficial impact. Building additions have caused the demise of many mature trees and under our current tree protection ordinance, trees under 8” in diameter are exempt and 3 trees/year over 8” may be removed from private property without penalty. The Commission believes that this ordinance needs to be strengthened and that residents need to be educated about the benefits of planting shade trees. Secondly, although the Borough has done a great job of replacing trees on public lands, losses outpace plantings and grant monies are increasingly difficult to obtain. A steady source of funds is needed to continue this work or we risk losing the leafy tree canopy that is our hallmark.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30pm (thank you Doug!) and the next meeting will be Monday, November 30 in the high school media center at 7:30pm. The topic is: “What experience have other town’s had with Sustainable Jersey and what advice do they have for us?” Representatives from Maplewood, Montclair, Morristown, Chatham Twp, Chatham Borough and Mt Arlington will be on hand to tell us about their road to certification. All are welcome. Agenda will be forthcoming soon.