HUNTERDON COUNTY AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT BOARD Meeting Minutes Thursday, April 10, 2008 Meeting Location: Route 12 County Complex Building #1, Meeting Room Flemington, NJ 08822 DRAFT Members in Attendance: Susan Blew Wayne Hunt Peter Melick Dave Bond Paul Dahan John Van Nuys Bill Engisch Win Cowgill @ 8:15 P.M. CADB Staff present: William Millette, CADB Administrator Rick Steffey, Assistant Planner Brian Appezzato , Assistant Planner Guy Desapio- County Counsel Christina Ohler – County Counsel’s Office
Open Public Meeting Act: Peter Melick opened the meeting at 8:05 p.m. and read the Open Public Meeting Act, "This meeting is being held in accordance with the provisions of the Open Public Meeting Act. Adequate notice has been provided by prominently posting and maintaining so posted throughout the year on the first and second floor of the County Administration Building, Route 12, Flemington, New Jersey a public place reserved for such announcements, and by mailing on or before February 14, 2008, to the Hunterdon County Democrat, Lambertville Beacon, The Express, Courier News, Trenton Times, Hunterdon Review, and Star Ledger newspapers designated by the Hunterdon County Agriculture Development Board to receive such notices, and by filing with the Hunterdon County Clerk a schedule of the times and dates of such meetings."
Roll Call Bob Hoffman and Bob Mickel were absent. Minutes of the March 13th 2008 Meeting Dave Bond made the motion to approve the minutes. Paul Dahan seconded. This motion carried. Garden State Growers Update: Guy started the update by explaining that Judge Derman sitting in Somerville determined the temporary restraining order placed on the preserved property was valid until a trial could be held. It was ruled that the restraining order could be upheld.
The Soil Conservation Service made a determination to require stabilization of areas where the earthwork has occurred. It was mentioned that the public could continue to call the SCS (Soil Conservation Service) or (State Agricultural Development Board) SADC to report any additional updates or complaints. The issue was raised about (Garden State Growers) GSG constructing hoop houses on other parts of the property. It was determined that the SADC ruled GSG could construct hoop houses on other parts of the property and this would not be a violation of the Deed of Easement (DOE). The Deed of Easement primarily prohibits the destruction of soil not construction of hoop houses. Guy mentioned the next steps the court will take. The judge will provide a scheduling order and will set a hearing date. They will look into the rights of the public. The court will also look to see if the Deed of Easement has been violated. If it is determined it has been violated than they will address what remedies should take place to fix the damages. The HCADB is not involved with this case, the County and the Freeholders are a party to this lawsuit as they own the Deed of Easement. Guy mentioned the history of GSG, Franklin Township and the County. In 2003 the CADB heard a RTF case between GSG and Franklin Township. This was because GSG wanted to build a large greenhouse on the property. Franklin Township said no to the application. CADB ruled that certain conditions should be in place before he could complete the construction. GSG objected and appealed to SADC. SADC sent this to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. This went on for a few years with the Administrative Law Judge holding talks with Franklin Twp. and GSG. Franklin Twp eventually objected to this process and wanted a hearing. GSG eventually accepted everything in the resolution except the appropriate rate of recharge for water. GSG withdrew its appeal and asked that the CADB intercede and get the county engineer involved to assist in finding out what this water recharge rate should be. Subsequently the new GSG earth moving problem occurred and due to the time sensitivity of the earth moving issues, it was decided to handle the recharge issue at a later date Franklin Township petitioned to become part of the lawsuit because they contributed money to purchase part of the DOE. Franklin Twp. also wanted the judge to hear the entire case including the recharge issue. The judge ruled that they are only going to hear the issue of the earthmoving on the site. Franklin Twp. mentioned that GSG is going to begin work on another site entirely and they are concerned this work may not be done in the right way that protects the public. It was felt that a hearing should take place with the CADB to determine if GSG violated the 2003 resolution. The CADB felt another hearing should take place on the second property as well. CADB determined that they will hold a special hearing on these two issues. This will take place in the next few weeks. Paul Dahan wanted to know if the second site is preserved or not. Guy mentioned it is the old “golf course” site which was purchased by GSG. SCS said a detention basin has been constructed on this site so far.
Public Comment Bill Caldwell - Attorney for Franklin Township. 1. Stated this problem with GSG has been going on since 1992- 16 years total. 2. It is his opinion you cannot be protected by the RTF laws unless you are in full compliance with all applicable laws. States GSG is not in compliance with certain laws and should loose his RTF protection because of this. 3. Wants CADB to act as stewards of the land and help Franklin Twp. fight GSG. 4. Asking that CADB declare he does not have RTF protection and stand behind 2003 resolution. He felt that GSG is stalling the entire process. Tracey Carluccio – Delaware River Keeper Network 1. Wants CADB to take action tonight to remove (Right to Farm) RTF protection. 2. Guy mentioned judge has not made a final decision yet on whether DOE has been violated and CADB will not make her (Judge Derman) decision for her. 3. Guy mentioned that he spoke with the AG’s office and they stated a hearing is warranted. 4. She mentioned that while the SADC assessment team was formulated, environmental destruction was taking place. She wants the CADB to act now to seek a stop work order on the entire farm and to the GSG site nearby. David Evans – Pittstown Attorney 1. Stated that he felt the CADB has a tremendous amount of decision making ability. He felt this issue will hurt the farmers in the area if the CADB does not act. He also said that farmers must work with the community. Melinda Pederson 1. Is interested in knowing what type of stabilization will take place. SCS mentioned they are looking at some temporary stabilization around the areas that have 2:1 slopes first. She also asked where all the topsoil has gone. SCS said that no topsoil has left the property. Lou Melka 1. Is complaining of large runoff and erosion problems occurring from the property. Ryan Feeley 1. Would like to know where all the topsoil that has been removed has gone? States the farm has been destroyed beyond repair. He would like enforcement to take place. He is also concerned about pollution running onto his property.
John Sendelsky 1. He is concerned about erosion on his property and complained that no one has acted in a timely fashion to remedy this.
Bruce Derittis 1. Complained of the soil being removed from the property. He would like action to be done to remedy this.
Communications 1. Makeup of the CADB. Bill Millete mentioned the freeholders have discussed the makeup of the CADB board. 2. Non-Profit grant procedure- Nothing to report 3. Annual Monitoring Program - Kevin Milz of the Hunterdon County SCS- About 170 parcels have been inspected by SCS. SCS cited landowners for good agricultural management practices. SCS cited a few farms for problems with potential violations of the Deed of Easement. (Foley, Waverka and Dabrowski Farms). Guy mentioned that they could authorize counsel to send letters to these farms and give them a time frame to comply. Dave Bond made a motion to approve this and it was seconded by Paul Dahan. This motion carried. 4. Farmland Preservation Plan Review- Bill Millette mentioned this plan is being worked on and needs to be sent into the SADC by April 21, 2008. Bill mentioned it is important to get this plan approved so they can get funding from SADC for farmland preservation. A motion to approve the plan was made by Paul Dahan and seconded by Bill Bowlby.
A motion was made to switch the order of old and new business by Paul Dahan seconded by Wayne Hunt. This motion carried. New Business: John Van Nuys recused himself and left the room: 1. Franklin Township Enforcement Issue- Paul Dahan wanted to know the legality of depriving GSG of his RTF. Paul Dahan wanted to know if this means we are taking this right away for any of his operations anyplace in NJ.? Wayne Hunt spoke about the concern the public has about GSG. He mentioned there will be a court procedure to determine the GSG case. He feels that the court should hear the case first. He stated GSG has not been found guilty of anything yet. Dave Bond wants to follow the procedure in the courts. Dave Bond felt it is not the CADB’s responsibility to deprive him of his (Right to Farm) RTF. Guy specifically asked William Caldwell if he is asking the CADB
to deprive him of the RTF in Hunterdon County and his response was yes. Guy reiterated that there needs to be a concrete process in place for this. Guy said they must first decide if he looses his RTF in Hunterdon County. Dave made a motion that “NO” he does not loose his RTF in Hunterdon County. Motion seconded by Bill Bowlby. This motion carried. Bill Caldwell asked for roll call vote. Guy interjected that the CADB is trying its best to determine the facts. Paul Dahan felt that the minutes will reflect the roll call vote. Guy then spoke about how the process will take place for the hearing with GSG. Guy said we will not tolerate any delay in this process. Guy will ask Franklin Twp. to provide proof about how GSG violated the DOE. He will ask the GSG attorney to provide proof about how it is alleged that they violated the resolution and that they must provide proof about how they have complied with the resolution. A court reporter will be present that will hear the facts and transcribe everything. The CADB will then hear the issue regarding what is currently going on at the golf course.
It was determined that the CADB does not have the legal authority to issue an injunction. The CADB recognizes the authority of a court to determine this. This motion was made by Paul Dahan and seconded by Dave Bond. The motion carried. 2. Sevin Springs -Witte Farm This was investigated by the state and also by the CADB board members. Paul Dahan mentioned that the owner is placing a detention basin below ground. He will be putting the earth back on top of the detention basin when he is done. Guy recommended that a letter be drafted to the farmer. This letter will ask the farmer to describe what is going on at the property. Guy suggested he submit all these plans to the CADB. This will ensure that all parties are protected. The CADB can ask the farmer to come to the meeting or they can request another site visit. A motion was made by Paul Dahan to accept Guy’s recommendation. This was seconded by Susan Blew. This motion carried. Guy mentioned that policies must be put in place to file complaints with CADB. Guy stressed that all these issues must be put in writing to protect everyone involved.
Peter Melick recused himself and Bill Bowlby took over as chairman. Peter Melick left the room. 3. Tewksbury Farms. Rick mentioned the 7 farms that Tewksbury wants the County to cost share on. Rick went over the PIG committees recommendations. Tewksbury farms that have been recommended for approval: Tewksbury Associates- Conditional approval upon a 2 acre non-severable exception area The Melick Farm- Approved
Paul Dahan made motion to approve and seconded by Wayne Hunt. The motion carried. Tewksbury farms not recommended for approval: The Nesser Farm The (2) Brady -Stewart Farms Tewksbury farms that have been tabled: The Crimi Farm- This will be tabled for further discussion as to the lot configurations The Cobal Farm- This will go back to the Twp. to consider an exception area change. 4. Readington Township and the Helen James Farm This is for amended final approval for the James farm for an added 2 acre non-severable exception area around the farm buildings. A motion to approve this was made by Wayne Hunt and seconded by Bill Bowlby. The motion carried. Old Business:
1. Gary Pahorley- SADC Gary mentioned the pamphlet that the SADC put together called the “farmer to farmer” pamphlet. Gary asked for input from the CADB members on this. 2. Huff Farm Division A site visit was done on this farm by the CADB. Dave Bond made a motion to approve the division. This was seconded by Paul Dahan. The motion carried.
Final Public Comment Dave Evans spoke about how he did not feel that the CADB has proper processes in place. Guy explained that RTF processes are in place. Guy explained that he did ask Franklin Twp. to submit a formal RTF complaint. None has been submitted. Guy stressed the need for this and it was agreed that one should be filed with the County.
Bill Bowlby made a motion to adjourn the meeting; seconded by Dave Bond. The motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 10:45 PM.
____________________________ Brian Appezzato, Assistant Secretary