You have reached the website for the Environmental Commission in Mountain Lakes, NJ. We welcome your feedback and participation! Click on “Let Us Know!” in the right hand column for some handy links about how to get in touch with us.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – MARCH 2014
Update on Key Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission Projects:
- Pass a new wellhead protection ordinance: A draft of the ordinance has been written and is waiting to be scheduled for a first reading before Mountain Lakes Borough Council. This ordinance will have to go to NJDEP after the first reading for approval so it is important that the introduction process begin soon. For more information about this project, please click here.
- Submit for 2nd Time Sustainable Jersey Bronze Level Certification by June 2014. Great work is being done by our Green Team to submit for another Bronze level certification. Current expectation of points are as follows:
|2014 Sustainable Jersey Action Plan|
|Animals in the Community||Chief Bennet||10|
|Community Education – Green Reels movie nights||M. Vyff||10|
|Create Green Team||M. Vyff||10|
|Education for Sustainability||F. Sanchez||10|
|Energy Tracking & Mgmt||B. Tovo||10|
|School Gardens||M. Vyff||10|
|Anti-Idling Education/Enforcement||P. Odenwaller||10|
|Environmental Commission||J. Bay||10|
|Community Forestry Plan||J. Horst||20|
|Paper Shredding Day||D. McWiliams||5|
|Recycling Depot||B. Albergo||10|
|Pay as you throw garbage||B. Albergo||10|
|Waste Audit at schools||M. Kaplan||10|
|Wellhead protection ordinance||J. Bay||10|
|Community action against environmentally harmful development||J. Bay||10|
|Municpal Carbon Footprint||B. Tovo||10|
|Upgrade municipal energy efficiency||B. Tovo||50|
|Solar installation||Bd of Ed||10|
|Natural Resource Inventory||J. Bay||20|
|Tree protection ordinance||B. Hall||10|
|Tree planting program||Shade Tree||10|
|Total Anticipated Points||265|
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – August 2013
Environmental Commission Stays On Top of Proposed Waterview Rezoning Ordinance.
Members of the Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission (MLEC) and Citizens for Health, Safety & Welfare (CHSW), addressed Parsippany’s Town Council on August 6th to raise their concerns about the proposal to rezone Waterview for a big box development. Chief amongst the public concerns raised that evening were:
- Potential Flooding of Adjacent Properties and Pollution of the Troy Brook. The proposed ordinance limits the environmental buffer to 75 feet versus the current 200 ft protected by law. The proposed re-grading of this property with steep slopes in excess of 20% has a high potential to cause flooding of neighborhood residences as well as harmful runoff to the tributary of the Troy Brook which runs along Intervale Road. Members of the public that expressed concern about this issue were told by Mr. Inglesino “Don’t worry. The state has many stormwater regulations and the developer won’t be able to build something that will flood your homes.” A recent report from the Delaware Riverkeepers analyses numerous developments in NJ that did exactly that – failed to meet minimum state stormwater regulations and flooded neighborhood properties. Click here to view the report Hamilton Twp NJ Stormwater Management Implementation Report.
- Addition of 614 Cars During the Peak Afternoon Drive Time will Hurt Resident’s Quality of Life and the Region’s Business Competitiveness. Anyone who tries to go west on Route 46 after 4pm knows that this road cannot handle additional volume. According to RD Realty’s traffic study, the Waterview development will add over 600 cars to this already bad situation. This new traffic will severely impact a commuter’s ability to get through critical intersections. For example, the developer’s own study forecasts an incredible 26 minute wait time to go north on Route 46 coming from the Waterview Blvd intersection. Employees of neighboring companies such as DMS, have spoken out publicly against this development because of legitimate traffic concerns. If people cannot commute the desirability of both communities as a viable place to live will decline.
- Destruction of the Beautiful Borough Entrance. From an aesthetic perspective, removing much of the Doremus Ridge along Intervale Road will destroy the wooded entrance and negatively impact home values in that area. It will also make it more difficult to find a tenant for the 2 vacant corporate sites that Pinnacle Foods once occupied. Lower home values and vacant corporate property will raise the tax burden on the remainder of the community.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – June 2013
Environmental Commission makes the case for a new wellhead protection ordinance to Mountain Lakes Council
Members of the Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission addressed the Council at the end of June to request that the Borough adopt a new ordinance to protect the public’s drinking water. The rationale for the recommendation was as follows:
- Current aquifer protection ordinances (in place since 1992) do not tie to any valid Borough map. Instead, the ordinances reference an incomplete list of lots and properties. This makes it difficult to determine which properties are covered and which are not.
- Current restrictions are very broad and unspecific. For example, soil moving operations are currently prohibited throughout the entire aquifer zone as well as all storage of hazardous materials. These restrictions are so broad as to be virtually unenforceable and don’t reflect current scientific understanding as to what aspects of the well fields actually need to be regulated.
- Adopting a new wellhead protection ordinance will bring Mountain Lakes up to date on current best practices with critical wellhead management. Key advantages include: a.) More specific restrictions are limited to the areas in which they are actually needed – directly surrounding the wellhead zones. b.) The wellhead zones are clearly marked on publicly available GIS maps (a link to which is provided on this site). c.) The proposed ordinance has already been adopted in several NJ communities and has been approved by the NJDEP.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – MAY 2, 2013
Successful Jump in the Lake Fundraiser for Citizens for Health, Safety and Welfare!
On Sunday, April 28th approximately 100 concerned citizens from Mountain Lakes, Parsippany and Boonton did something crazy for smart development — they jumped in the lake! Each jumper either paid $30 or raised significantly more via door-to-door fundraising and email efforts. In total, over $11K was raised and a good time was had by all! For an update on what’s going on with the Waterview development, click here: So What Are They Doing With All that Money Anyway?
Mimi Kaplan Leads Waste Audit at Mountain Lakes High School
What gets thrown away in a day and how much of that should have been recycled? Green team members, Mimi Kaplan and Frank Sanchez, decided to find out. Working with lead custodian, xxxx, Mimi sorted and weighed all the garbage produced by MLHS for one day. What the team found was that the current recycling benchmark is 45% and could be much higher if there was greater efforts made to recycle white paper.
The objective of the audit was to:
- Illustrate the volume of garbage generated at MLHS
- Educate students about what items should be recycled and the benefits of recycling
- Instill students with a sense of responsibility, regarding how they dispose of these recyclable items
- Get students thinking about generating less waste
|MLHS Waste Audit 04-24-2013|
|MATERIAL||School Total (lbs)
|School Total (lbs)
per week (5 days)
|School Total (lbs)
per year (180 days)
|White Paper Recycled||24.0||120.0||4,320.0||7.9%|
|White Paper Recovered||57.0||285.0||10,260.0||18.8%|
|Not Recycled – Recovered||72.5||362.5||13,050.0||54.9%|
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – APRIL 22, 2013
Marnie Vyff presents the “Road Map to Bronze Re-Certification” to Borough Council on April 22.
Marnie, and other members of the Green Team, updated Borough Council on plans to obtain re-certification for Sustainable Jersey by the December 2015 deadline. The team is hard at work on projects like: tree planting with the Woodlands Committee, Green Reels environmental movie nights, Rain barrel workshops, a wellhead protection ordinance, retrofitting or replacing District water fountains to contain bottle re-filling stations and conducting a waste audit at the MLHS. The team is always looking for additional help – contact Marnie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and click here to see some of the road map.
Environmental Commission, Woodlands and the Cub Scouts Partner to Plant 200 Trees for Earth Day
Jerry Uhrig obtained 200 sugar maple, black gum trees for planting in the Mountain Lakes woods. Trees were planted in Taft, Halsey Fredericks and Wilcox Parks as well as in a pocket park on Morris Avenue. Re-planting trees in our woodlands is necessary to counter the effects of over-browsing by the deer population. All the planted trees were marked with bright plastic ribbon so if you’re ever out and see one of our trees, empty your water bottle on it!
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – FEBRUARY 15, 2013
The Environmental Commission of Mountain Lakes addressed the Parsippany Planning Board at the recent February 11, 2013 meeting. A copy of our statement can be read on the Don’t Rezone Waterview section of this site.
Despite large public opposition and notice from the Don’t Rezone attorney, Rob Simon, that the Planning Board did not have jurisdiction to move this zoning change forward, the Board voted 8-to-1 to recommend the overlay zoning change.
Although disheartening, the lack of interest on the part of the Planning Board in representing it’s citizens versus representing outside developers, is not a surprise. Fortunately, Municipal Land Use Law is on our side, together with the fact that RD Realty does not own the tract in question. Members of Don’t Rezone are scheduled to meet with the attorney next week and next-step strategy will be developed.
What Can YOU Do?
1. Talk to members of Borough Council and let them know your concerns. Their contact information is on the website: mtnlakes.org. There is a link in the right hand navigation bar.
2. Donate to Don’t Rezone. We have hired an excellent attorney who is very familiar with the individuals in Parsippany government. He is also a master at municipal land use law. We do have a case; we do have the right attorney. We will need generous donations to stay in the game. Suggested amounts are: $100-$200/family. A link to the Don’t Rezone Waterview website is in the right hand navigation bar. The site accepts credit cards and debit withdrawals via PayPal. You can also mail a check directly to the Treasurer of the organization.
Lastly, a fund-raising team is in place and preliminary plans are for a dinner/music party on St Patrick’s Day. Stay Tuned!
3. Attend the Next Parsippany Planning Board Meeting February 25, 2013
The next step in the process is for the Parsippany Borough Council to write the actual overlay rezone ordinance. To do that, they will rely upon the developer’s draft ordinance and recommended restrictions from the Planning Board. The Board will come up with these restrictions at their next meeting February 25 in the Parsippany High School (to be confirmed). In the past, this process has produced restrictions deemed “too severe” on the part of the potential developer and the project has failed. We know that the Planning Board does not intend to let restrictions on things that the residents care about, like density and adequate buffers, get in the way of development again. It will be imperative that we make our voices heard again. We must demand the maintenance of 200 foot buffers on Intervale Road.
The Environmental Commission Addressed Borough Council Regarding Proposed Development on Mountain Lakes’ Borders
On January 28th the Environmental Commission formally addressed Borough Council regarding concerns about the proposed development on Route 46 and Intervale Road. The primary reasons for concern from a Mountain Lakes standpoint are the reduction in protective buffer from the current 200 feet with POD zoning to the proposed 50 feet with the new overlay zoning. This reduction in buffer zones will destroy the current hill that acts as a natural barrier between Intervale Road and the proposed development. The EC believes that buffers are critical to protect residents from noise and light pollution from a Development that could be active from 9 to 9pm every day. Buffers are also critical to maintain our increasingly unique Borough’s historical and natural aesthetics. For the last 100 years, Mountain Lakes residents have fought to hold onto the natural beauty of our environment. This development needs to live within existing buffer zones and the Borough has to insist that there will be no access to Intervale Road.
From a Parsippany perspective, this development is concerning because the developer, RD Realty, has asked for an exemption from their wellhead protection ordinance and is proposing to increase impermeable coverage from 45% to 75% of the 26.6 acres. This acreage is prime aquifer recharge area and is critical to maintaining area water supply. In terms of the wellhead protection exemption, the law prohibits a very few development choices: landfills, cemeteries, gas stations, dry cleaners – businesses that could potentially store hazardous chemicals. This ordinance is important because it prevents businesses that could harm groundwater from being located within sensitive regions that are too close to the actual wellheads. The corner lot on Route 46 and Intervale is slated for a 13K development that at one point, was potentially a Convenience store with gas pumps. The location is the absolutely wrong place for this type of development because it sits on Tier One (the most sensitive) and Tier Two wellhead protection zones. RD Realty has since removed this potential usage for that lot. We applaud this change and ask that they remove their request for an exemption as well.
Attached is a link to a recent article from the Parsippany Patch.
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT, PLEASE JOIN THE DON’T REZONE GRASSROOTS GROUP AND ATTEND THE FEBRUARY 11 PARSIPPANY PLANNING BOARD MEETING. 7:30PM PARSIPPANY HIGH SCHOOL.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – JANUARY 11, 2013
Concerned about the proposed development off Intervale Road in Parsippany? So are we. We are working with the Borough and outside experts to put together a fact-based point of view on why Parsippany’s zoning change that would allow a reduction in the buffer between Mountain Lakes and this new proposed development should be turned down. The proposed change would allow a buffer of 50 feet versus the current 200 feet as dictated by current ordinances. This zoning change would allow a high- density retail/commercial development to be squeezed into a parcel of land that is too small to accomodate it. The noise, light and air pollution impact upon Mountain Lakes would be substantial not to mention issues with ground and storm water. We’re looking into the facts – come join us this Wednesday, January 16th at 7:30pm in Borough Hall.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – JANUARY 29, 013
Did you know that Mountain Lakes recently approved a new municipal garbage and recycling contract? A mailing went out in the end of December describing the changes in the weekly recycling pick up. Questions? Concerns? Join us Wednesday, January 9th at the ML High School Media Center for an informative evening sponsored by the Environmental Commission and the Municipal Solid Waste Committee. See the below flyer
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – OCTOBER 2012
Mountain Lakes has been awarded a $2,000 grant under the Sustainable Jersey program to fund a series of Environmental Community Nights in 2013. This project will go towards the Borough’s efforts to become Silver-level certified, the next phase of our Sustainable Jersey journey. The events will be centered around educational movies and speakers and cover a broad range of environmental and sustainability topics. Borough resident, Environmental Commission and Shade Tree Commission member, Marnie Vyff, is the brain child of this effort. She has been sucessfully leading similiar events in Montclair for 3 years. Events attract as many as 60 residents and post-movie discussion is lively! Marnie was also the force behind the movie series sponsored by the League of Women Voters under their popular Green Community Project in 2009. Many thanks to her for bringing this great initiative back home to Mountain Lakes.
Work to identify movies and fill a calendar with events will kick off in November. Should you wish to work on this project, please contact Marnie at email@example.com.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – JUNE 2012
Mountain Lakes Borough Council Receives Sustainable Jersey Plaque
On May 29th Mountain Lakes officially received our plaque commerating our Sustainable Jersey certification. Ms. Sylvia Petillo, Mayor of Hoptacong and Board Trustee for the Sustaintable Jersey program, presented the plaque to Charles Gormally, Mayor, and Jackie Bay, Environmental Commission. Ms. Bay presented the Green Team’s accomplishments to the Council (presentation can be found under Sustainable Jersey banner on this site) and was joined by Mr. Frank Sanchez from the ML School Administration. Mr. Sanchez talked about the importance of incorporating sustainability principals into the curriculum and how the schools intend to lead the way to Silver certification in 2014.
The presentation was very well received by the Council and Councilman Jackson asked if the Green Team had uncovered any areas of particular concern during our 2 year project. Ms. Bay answered that she saw two big areas of opportunity: increasing recycling in the schools and increasing energy efficiency of school buildings. Not mentioned at that meeting but also a big opportunity according to Mr. Tovo, Borough Manager, would be further energy improvements in municipal buildings. As part of the energy audit new energy efficient lighting was installed in Borough facilities. This change is estimated to produce savings of $15K per year, however, a larger opportunity probably lies with improving the “shell” of the building itself – namely energy efficient windows, roofing, etc. Anyone who has spent time in Wildwood or the High School can appreciate that climate control is an issue in these building as well.
Next Steps: A new Green Team has been formed and intends to start meeting in September 2012. We have 155 points to earn and need all the help we can get! If you have an idea about an environmental project involving the Borough or the schools, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Grants are avaialble from Sustainable Jersey to help fund big ideas.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS – APRIL 2012
Mountain Lakes EC Hosts a Garbage Game at MLHS’ Empty Bowls
In April, Environmental Commission members, Allison Rankin, Marnie Vyff and Jackie Bay hosted an interactive game at the ML High School’s Empty Bowls event. Students and parents alike were given a piece of “garbage” and asked whether it would go into: a.) Garbage, b.) Recycle or c.) Compost. Choices included difficult items like old broccoli, tin foil, #7 plastic as well as more standard items like cardboard boxes and metal cans. Participants made their choice and then enthusiastically tossed it into the correct bin. Winners were treated to either brownies or globe-shaped chocolates. Much fun was had by all and EC members were given the chance to dialogue with students about what can and cannot be recycled in Mountain Lakes. Lucky for us, with the adoption of the new solid waste contract in January 2013, what can be recycled will become much easier.
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS - MARCH 2012
Mountain Lakes Achieves Bronze Certification Under Sustainable Jersey Program!
Sustainable Jersey is a a municipal certification program with a mission to make NJ healthy, just and efficient, one municipality at a time. The idea started in 2006 with the League of Municipalities and a small group of mayors. They realized that meaningful environmental change would’nt happen without support at the local level. The Mayors Committee for a Green Future was created with a mission to make NJ green – one municipality at a time. They developed a 3-pronged approach:
Develop standard criteria for communities that want to be known as “green”
Compile a simple web-based tool to help municipal green teams accomplish their goals
Provide financial incentives to reward and assist efforts
In 2008 their efforts were joined by the NJ Sustainable State Institute of Rutgers and the Municipal Land Use Center of the College of NJ. They put together a Working Group consisting of 150 NJ leaders, experts and organizations and sought funding from the Dodge Foundation and the NJ Office of Smart Growth. It was this group that developed the Sustainable Jersey program and launched it in 2009.
As of March 2012, 358 municipalities have registered with the Program and 108 have been officially certified. Municipalities apply for either Bronze or Silver level based upon the number of actions that they have completed. Each Action comes with a specific set of criteria and is awarded a set number of points.
After a two-year journey that involved many Committees, Commissions and individuals in town as well as extensive participation on the part of Borough Hall and DPW, Mountain Lakes achieved Bronze level certification. We completed Actions that earned us a total of 195 points.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to become Sustainable Jersey certified,” said Pam Mount, Chair of the Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees. “The certified towns have joined a first rate group of municipalities that are leading the way with impressive sustainability initiatives in New Jersey while providing a model for towns across the United States.”
Be Proud Lakers!
Check out what we accomplished on the Sustainable Jersey page: Sustainable Jersey. Each month we will highlight the work that went into one of the completed Actions.
Next Stop: Silver Level Certification!
We already have 45 points earned towards the 250 we need for Silver certification. Efforts are just getting underway to launch a new Green team. There are numerous initiatives that can earn points. The school, under the leadership of Dr. Mucci and Mr. Sanchez, are engaged in this new effort. From a Borough perspective, Borough Manager Tovo has asked that we seek grant monies to fund new sidewalks under a Safe Streets initiative. There is much to do! Get involved!
ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS NOVEMBER 2011
Environmental Commission Completes New Environmental Resource Inventory!
In November of 2011, the Environmental Commission of Mountain Lakes completed a new Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI) for the Borough of Mountain Lakes. The purpose of an Environmental Resource Inventory is to serve as a tool to properly manage Borough land and resources. The report identifies environmental characteristics and assets and serves as a benchmark against which the future success (or failure) of various Borough policies, conservation programs and overall development decisions can be measured.
For many years interested residents have contributed to a growing body of information describing the Borough in which we live. In this most recent edition, the work of naturalist Rick Radis was added in the Flora and Fauna sections. Another important addition is the inclusion of GIS maps that visually depict Borough natural resources, land use and geographic features. These maps are hosted on the Morris County Planning Dept’s MCPRIMA site and correspond to the text in the report. Users can overlap several maps simultaneously and can experience a richness of information never before available.
Lastly, the 2011 Environmental Resource Inventory has moved online: ERI with the hope that it will become a living document accessible to all. The Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission retains responsibility to update the text and intends to reach out to environmental Committees, Commissions and importantly, school science classes and groups to help us maintain and add to the wealth or information the Environmental Resource Inventory contains.
If you have information that you would like to add to the Environmental Resource Inventory or notice inaccuracies, please contact Jackie Bay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!
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