Pequannock Manager to Debate Open Space Use

English: Open Space Open space at the end of t...
English: Open Space Open space at the end of the forest track. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Christopher Lotito

Pequannock's Township Manager, Dave Hollberg, will consider along with input from a variety of the township's volunteer commissions, the future of maintenance and land use in regards to Pequannocks ample open space and recreational holdings.

The main questions raised throughout the Summer of 2012, during a time when open spaces have increased dramatically on a week to week basis as a result of accelerated buy out schedules post-Hurricane Irene, relate to the planned maintenance of open space properties and the cost thereof.  While some individuals and commissions within the township would like to see these properties highly maintained with the thought that this will make them more attractive to those looking to move into the community as well as neighbors who have submitted maintenance complaints to the township during the grass growing season, others claim a low use of the sites overall and feel that the expense for frequent mowings is unjustified.

Hanging over the issue at large are the much maligned New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Land Use Regulations which state in part that open spaces such as those held by the municipality within the flood zone may not be taken from a natural state to a cleared state without extensive permitting by the NJDEP.  A phone conversation between and a representative of the NJDEP in July confirmed the Department's position that if a house is bought out and saplings grow up on the lawn, it becomes illegal to remove those saplings without a DEP permit.

Additionally, trees which fall in the flood zone or which are cut down legally cannot be mulched on site, as even the organic mulch originating from vegetation in the flood zone is classed by the NJ DEP as fill in a no-fill zone.  Details on the actual frequency of enforcement of these strict and rigorous regulations were not readily available at the time of this research.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock Historic District, Open Space, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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