502 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph, NJ 07869-3799
Tel: 973.989.7100Fax: 973.989.7076

All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.

Minutes: March 25, 2008

A Special Meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 8:00 p.m. by Mayor Napoliello. This meeting is held pursuant to the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. Adequate notice of the meeting has been provided by posting written notice of the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting in Randolph Township. This notice was posted on the Bulletin Board within Town Hall, it was filed with the Township Clerk, and it was provided to those persons or entities requesting notification. Notice was also provided to the Morris County Daily Record on March 12, 2008, by emailing them the Special Meeting Notice. The Special Meeting Notice, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Daily Record on March 14, 2008.

Councilman Alpert
Councilwoman Mitsch
Councilman Obremski
Councilwoman Price
Deputy Mayor Metz
Mayor Napoliello

ABSENT: Councilman Algeier

Also Present: Township Manager John Lovell and Keli Gallo from the Ed Buzak Law Group.

Mayor Napoliello led the Pledge of Allegiance.


The presentation touched on the following issues:

  • Why this region is important from a nation-wide perspective as well as from a state-wide perspective
  • Studies that show a population increase in the area from 1990 to 2000 resulting in a sprawl-like growth pattern
  • The creation of a task force in 2003
  • Enactment of Water Protection Planning Act in 2004
  • The region being divided into planning and preservation areas
  • The major importance of the region is water, both quality and quantity
  • The Highlands Council supports a water user fee for residents outside the region who rely on the Highlands for water
  • The completion of a resource assessment of the area to determine the amount of development that could be accommodated
  • The first draft of the Regional Master Plan released in November 2006, followed by an extensive comment period
  • Final draft of Regional Master Plan released in November 2007 and comment period and public hearings
  • Changes made in the Regional Master Plan from 2006 to 2007
  • Timeframe for conformance for lands within preservation area
  • Changes to the Land Use Capability Map, including septic system densities, lake management areas, lake community subzones, forest management, limestone issues, and agricultural preservation
  • Water availability, or lack of it, and how to address deficits
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Development of a conformance checklist showing municipalities what to expect when conforming to the plan
  • Regional master plan updates and map adjustments
  • Development of a septic system yield map
  • Discussion of the Overlay Zone Map consisting of a protection zone, a conservation zone, and existing community zone
  • Goals set forth for the entire region, which is both preservation and planning areas, are to protect, restore, and enhance the quality and quantity of service ground water, preserving farmland/historic sites and other historic resources, preserving outdoor recreation opportunities, promoting conservation of water resources, and promoting ground field remediation and redevelopment
  • Specific goals for the preservation area is to preserve to the maximum extent possible contiguous areas of land in its natural state and to prohibit or limit to the maximum extent possible construction or development that was not compatible with the preservation of the area
  • Goals for the planning area include promoting compatible agricultural, horticultural, recreational, and cultural uses, preserving environmentally sensitive lands and other lands needed for recreation or conservation purposes, protect and maintain the essential character of the environment, encouraging center-based development, and promoting a balanced transportation system
  • Discussion of forest resource areas, agricultural resource areas, preserved open space, limestone areas, wellhead protection areas, water availability, public community water systems, sewerage facilities, historic/cultural/archeological resources, transportation conditions, impervious surfaces, and contamination sites within Randolph Township
  • The potential for accruing Highlands Development Credits
  • Benefits available to conforming municipalities, which include a legal shield, obtaining grants to assist in conformance, automatic state plan endorsement, protection from COAH third round certification mandates, grants available to offset the cost of the transfer of development rights, open space acquisition funding, and tax stabilization funding compensating municipalities for the decline in the aggregate true value of vacant land

A question and answer period followed the presentation. Council’s questions, and responses to those question, include:

  • What impact does New York have on New Jersey in the Highlands area? (Since water flows both ways, there are impacts on each other. There is a need for more cooperation between states.)
  • Which agency carries more authority, COAH or the Highlands? (COAH will be required to take into account the Highlands’ build-out analysis of towns as they consider third round certification regulations for towns in compliance with the Highlands Act.)
  • Since compliance with voluntary, what does a municipality lose if they choose to not comply? (No assistance with state permitting and no assistance with COAH in guiding development.)
  • Would DEP permitting virtually stop if a town is not compliant with the Highlands? (Non-compliance would impact permitting for sewer extensions into environmentally sensitive areas or water allocation permits.)
  • What is the priority status for state infrastructure study? (Incentives to get municipalities to opt in are that they would get prioritized funding and EIT preferential treatment. Non-compliance does not mean you don’t get funding, it just means the town is not considered a priority.)
  • What limitations would be in effect for existing homes or developments within the 1000 foot buffer? (There are exemptions built into the Act for existing homes or loss of records that would allow for expansion as long as it remains a single family dwelling.)
  • It seems logical to form a group with representatives from the DEP, COAH, and the Highlands in order to facilitate communication between these three groups
  • Since Randolph contains both a preservation area and a planning area, would we be looked at as having a potential for receiving development? (That would be Randolph’s decision. Conformance to the plan provides a place for Randolph to begin looking at areas that are best to development if development was desired. Money would be available for a feasibility study. However, after the study, it is Randolph’s decision to allow development or not.)
  • What is the time frame for conformance for towns with land in both the planning and preservation area? (Lands within the preservation area are required to conform within 9 to 15 months of the adoption of the Act. Lands within the planning area are not required to conform.)
  • Where does all the money for this program come from? (Funds were dedicated in 2004.)
  • Is this funding dedicated? (Yes, it would require an act of the legislature to take it away.)
  • If Randolph agrees to accept a development project, do we have any say on what that project can be? (Yes, even as to the density of the project.)
  • Once Randolph accepts one project, would that require us to accept future projects? (No. Development is entirely up to Randolph.)
  • Is there currently any coordination between the DEP, COAH, and the Highlands? (Yes. Everything has been done to ensure methodologies are consistent with the DEP. The Highlands has been meeting with COAH to make them aware of the build-out analyses. There has been every attempt to coordinate with the state agencies.)
  • What is the annual budget for the Highlands? (There is a $3 million for operations. Assuming the budgets pass, there will be over $20 million available for grants and $4.4 million available each year.)
  • What about water user fees for areas outside of the Highlands region? (That’s something that would require legislation. A bill has been introduced for a water user fee, but has not advanced substantially in terms of the legislative agenda. The Highlands continues to advocate for the most equitable way to conserve water resources. There is support for the concept that those who use Highlands water should pay their fair share to protect the region and the Highlands will continue to advocate for a legislative initiative. The Highlands is looking for towns within the region to adopt resolutions in favor of water user fees.)
  • Would the transfer of development rights be considered for areas outside of the planning area? (There is a state bill that has been introduced so that towns anywhere in the state can transfer and participate in the Highlands plan.)
  • If no one within the planning area agrees to opt in, where does development go in terms of the Highlands? (Success of the program would be limited and there would be one less tool to compensate owners in the preservation area.)
  • What is the relationship between the Smart Growth rules and the Highlands? (The two agencies are working together. Highlands will submit their plan to the Office of Smart Growth for their endorsement.)
  • What is their advice about Randolph conforming to the plan? (Obtain grant money from the Highlands and hire trusted professionals to begin to look at Randolph’s concerns and see what the benefits are to conforming or not conforming to the program. After that, bring the Highlands back to meet with those professionals for a question and answer session.)


Questions and concerns from the public included:

  • Environmental issues in the HDC zones. (The first thing to do is the completion of a resource assessment to see what resources are being impacted. Then a capacity assessment should be completed.)
  • Concern that open space purchased by the township should not be considered vacant and seen as a possible development site for COAH housing.
  • There should have been a yearly subsidy coming back to the communities that bear the burdens of supplying water to communities with a deficit. Although there has been talk of giving money back, the communities to which water is sent out-vote our community. (Pressure can be brought to the legislature if all 88 municipalities send resolutions to the state in support of this idea.)
  • Is the Highlands Council a commission with advisory clout but no enforcement clout? (No. The plan is mandatory in the preservation areas)
  • Can the Highlands designate an area where it’s feasible to build and still protect the water supply? (There are mandatory cluster provisions to protect agricultural and conservation zones. However, they can’t force development on a town.)
  • The issue of available water supply capacity and how that relates to COAH. (The Highlands will bring this issue to COAH’s attention for consideration in addressing the feasibility of the projections they have.)
  • What about the conditional allocation for deficit watershed? (When a town is considered deficient, the plan calls for the development of a water management plan. Where towns have taken proactive measures to conserve water, other options may have to be considered to get more water back into the ground where there is a deficit issue.)
  • How frequently does the DEP consider the Highlands Council’s recommendations? (The Highlands Council is currently working with the DEP. In the last plan, the Highlands made recommendations on permitting such as water allocation and waste water management plan amendments, and the DEP considered some and did not consider others. When the plan is adopted, the DEP is required not to take any action that is inconsistent with the Highlands plan.)
  • Has Randolph done a water management plan? (Yes. Randolph is more advanced than many other municipalities.)
  • Does that plan have to be adopted by the Highlands Council? (If Randolph chooses to conform, Randolph and the Highlands would work on that plan together. They would assist with funding and technical experience.)
  • What kind of information is supposed to be in that plan? (Where the water comes from, where you are drawing from ground water, availability in the system, and stream flows to make sure flow is maintained during drought conditions.)
  • What is the amendment in the plan that lists lawns as impervious surfaces? (That is an exaggerated rumor. The Act broadly defines impervious surfaces as pavement, gravel, or anything that would inhibit the flow of water into the ground.)
  • Does the Highlands have jurisdiction over agricultural zones and agricultural uses? (The Act promotes agricultural viability and the promotion of agriculture.)
  • How are users of water inside the region restricted from over-using the supply? (That would be part of the water management plan. The Highlands Act protects future development that further exacerbates land water withdrawals. There is a limit to what the Highlands can do to homeowners with wells.)
  • Why is northwestern Sussex County not included in the Highlands are? (It is outside of the province that serves the Highlands, however it is under federal ownership and very well protected.)

The public portion was closed.

Mayor Napoliello thanked Ms. Swan and Mr. Borden for their presentation and suggested possible presentations in the future.


The members of the council thanked Ms. Swan and Mr. Borden for their presentation.


The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

Donna Marie Luciani
Township Clerk