Ordinances & Legislation
Environmental Commission Article XXI - Local Enabling Ordinance
§ 3-92. Establishment.
There shall be an Environmental Commission established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56A-1 et seq. § 3-93. Composition. [Amended 4-16-1990 by Ord. No. 10-90] Environmental Commission The Environmental Commission shall consist of not less then five members nor more then seven members appointed by the Mayor, one of whom shall be a member of the Planning Board. The Mayor shall designate one of the members to serve as Chairman and presiding officer of the Commission. Appointments of members, except to fill vacancies, shall be three-year terms beginning January 1 of the first year of the term. Terms shall be staggered by reason of initial appointments. Members of the Commission shall be residents of Washington Township and shall serve without compensation.
§ 3-94. Powers and duties.
The Environmental Commission shall have the power to conduct research into the use and possible use of the open land areas of the Township and may coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes. It may advertise, prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts, plans and pamphlets which, in its judgment, is necessary for its purposes. It shall keep an index of all open space areas, publicly- or privately-owned, including open marshlands, swamps and other wetlands, in order to obtain information on the proper use of such areas, and may from time to time recommend to the Planning Board plans and programs for inclusion in a Township Master Plan and the development and use for such areas.
§ 3-95. Acquisitions by Commission.
The Environmental Commission may, subject to the approval of the Township Committee, acquire property, both real and personal, in the name of the Township by gift, purchase, grant, bequest, devise or lease for any of its purposes and shall administer the same for such purposes subject to the terms of the conveyance or gift. Acquisitions may be to acquire the fee or any lesser interest, development right, easement, including conservation easements, covenant or other contractual right, including a conveyance on conditions or with limitations or reversions, as may be necessary to acquire, maintain, improve, protect, limit the future use of, or otherwise conserve and properly utilize open spaces and other land and water areas in the Township.
§ 3-96. Records and annual report.
The Environmental Commission shall keep records of its meetings and activities and shall make an annual report to the Township Committee.
Environmental Commission Enabling Legislation
N.J.S.A. 40:56A; originally passed 1968; amended 1972, 1975, 1989
40:56A-1 Commission; appointment; term; vacancies.
40:56A-2 Powers of commission.
40:56A-3 Acquisitions by commission.
40:56A-4 Records and annual report.
40:56A-6 Studies and recommendations.
40:56A-7 Conservation Commission as environmental commission.
40:56A-8 Joint environmental commission; creation by ordinance; members; compensation.
40:56A-9 Chairman; qualification; term in office.
40:56A-10 Expenses; appointment; appropriation.
40:56A-11 Functions; duties and powers.
40:56A-12 Succession of established commission by joint commission; transfers.
40:56A-1 COMMISSION; APPOINTMENT; TERM; VACANCIES
The governing body of any municipality may by ordinance establish an environmental commission for the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources, located within its territorial limits. The commission shall consist of not less than five nor more than seven members, appointed by the mayor of the municipality, one of whom shall be a member of the municipal planning board and all of whom shall be residents of the municipality; the members shall serve without compensation except as hereafter provided.
The mayor of the municipality shall designate one of the members to serve as chairman and presiding officer of the commission. The terms of office for the first commissioners shall be for 1, 2 or 3 years, to be designated by the mayor in making his appointments so that the terms of approximately 1/3 of the members will expire each year, and their successors shall be appointed for terms of 3 years and until the appointment and qualification of their successors.
The mayor or governing body of the municipality may remove any member of the commission for cause, on written charges served upon the member and after a hearing thereon at which the member shall be entitled to be heard in person or by counsel. A vacancy on the commission occurring otherwise than by expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired term in the same manner as an original appointment.
Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, the powers of appointment and removal hereby accorded to the mayor of a municipality shall be vested in the elected official so designated or, where there is a vacancy in the office of mayor, on the duly designated acting mayor.
The governing body may, by ordinance, provide for the appointment of not more than two alternate members. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law or charter heretofore adopted, the ordinance shall provide the methods of appointment of alternate members. Alternate members shall be designated at the time of appointment by the authority appointing them as "Alternate No. 1" and "Alternate No. 2."
The terms of the alternate members shall be for two years, except the terms of the alternate members first appointed shall be two years for Alternate No. 1 and one year for Alternate No. 2 so that the term of not more than one alternate member shall expire in any one year. A vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term shall be filled by the appointing authority for the unexpired term only.
An alternate member shall not be permitted to act on any matter in which he has either directly or indirectly any personal or financial interest. An altJanuary 16, 2009 be removed by the governing body for cause. An alternate member may participate in discussions of the proceedings but may not vote except in the absence or disqualification of a regular member. A vote shall not be delayed in order that a regular member may vote instead of an alternate member. In the event that a choice must be made as to which alternate member is to vote, Alternate No. 1 shall vote first.
40:56A-2 POWERS OF COMMISSION
An environmental commission organized under this act shall have power to conduct research into the use and possible use of the open land areas of the municipality and may coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and may advertise, prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts, plans and pamphlets which in its judgment it deems necessary for its purposes. It shall keep an index of all open areas, publicly or privately owned, including open marshland, swamps and other wetlands, in order to obtain information on the proper use of such areas, and may from time to time recommend to the planning board or, if none, to the mayor and governing body of the municipality plans and programs for inclusion in a municipal master plan and the development and use of such areas.
40:56A-3 ACQUISITIONS BY COMMISSION
An environmental commission may, subject to the approval of the governing body, acquire property, both real and personal, in the name of the municipality by gift, purchase, grant, bequest, devise or lease for any of its purposes and shall administer the same for such purposes subject to the terms of the conveyance or gift. Such an acquisition may be to acquire the fee or any lesser interest, development right, easement (including conservation easement), covenant or other contractual right (including a conveyance on conditions or with limitations or reversions), as may be necessary to acquire, maintain, improve, protect, limit the future use of, or otherwise conserve and properly utilize open spaces and other land and water areas in the municipality.
40:56A-4 RECORDS AND ANNUAL REPORT
An environmental commission shall keep records of its meetings and activities and shall make an annual report to the governing body of the municipality.
The governing body of a municipality may appropriate funds for the expenses incurred by the environmental commission. The commission may appoint such clerks and other employees as it may from time to time require and as shall be within the limits of funds appropriated to it.
40:56A-6 STUDIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
An environmental commission shall have power to study and make recommendations concerning open space preservation, water resource management, air pollution control, solid waste management, noise control, soil and landscape protection, environmental appearance, marine resources and protection of flora and fauna.
40:56A-7 CONSERVATION COMMISSION AS ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION
Any conservation commission established pursuant to this act shall be an environmental commission.
40:56A-8 JOINT ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION; CREATION BY ORDINANCE; MEMBERS; COMPENSATION
- The governing bodies of two or more municipalities may, by adoption of substantially similar ordinances, create a joint environmental commission for the protection, development or use of natural resources, including water resources located within their combined territorial limits.
- The number and qualifications of the members of such joint environmental commission, and their terms and methods of appointment or removal shall be such as may be determined and agreed upon by said governing bodies and set forth in the ordinance creating such joint commission, except that
- when such joint commission is created by two municipalities only, there shall be at least three members from each municipality;
- when such joint commission is created by three or more municipalities, there shall be at least two members from each municipality;
- at least one member from each municipality shall be a member of the planning board (if any) of the municipality, and
- a majority of the members of the joint commission shall hold no other public office, except membership on a municipal or other planning board. c. Members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but may receive reimbursement for actual expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties as members of the commission.
40:56A-9 CHAIRMAN; QUALIFICATIONS; TERM IN OFFICE
A joint environmental commission shall elect its chairman, who shall hold no other public office or position, except that he may be a member of a municipal or other planning board. The term of the chairman shall be one year, and he shall be eligible to succeed himself unless the ordinance creating the commission shall otherwise provide. The ordinance requires the chairmanship of the commission be rotated annually so that over each period of years corresponding to the number of participating municipalities it shall be held in each year by a member appointed from a different participating municipality.
40:56A-10 EXPENSES; APPORTIONMENT; APPROPRIATION
The proportion of the expense of the joint environmental commission to be home by each participating municipality shall be such as may be determined and agreed upon by the participating municipalities, and said municipalities are hereby authorized to appropriate their respective shares of such expenses. Within the limits thus agreed upon and duly appropriated the commission may employ such clerical and technical or other assistants and may incur such other expenses as it may deem necessary to carry out its functions.
40:56A-11 FUNCTIONS, DUTIES AND POWERS
A commission created pursuant to this supplementary act shall have, with respect to all the participating municipalities, and to each of them, all the functions, duties and powers of an environmental commission established in a single municipality under section 2 and 3 of PL. 1968, c. 245 (C.40:56A-2 and 40:56A-3) and section 7 of PL. 1972, c. 35 (C.40:56A-6).
40:56A-12 SUCCESSION OF ESTABLISHED COMMISSION BY JOINT COMMISSION; TRANSFERS
If any municipality which has heretofore established an environmental commission under the act to which this act is a supplement shall enter into participation in a joint environmental commission, such environmental commission heretofore established shall be abolished upon the taking effect of the ordinance establishing the joint environmental commission, and the terms of the members of such abolished environmental commission shall immediately cease and terminate. Except as may otherwise be provided in the ordinance establishing such joint commission, all employees of such abolished environmental commission, and all the records, property and funds in its possession or under its control shall be transferred to the joint environmental commission, and its debts and other financial obligations shall be assumed by the joint environmental commission.
*Current as of December 5, 2005, WTEC Chairman, Mark Napolitano.
See Below for More Information
The Washington Township Environmental Commission has identified a grant and will be applying for funds to be used to raise awareness of invasive plant species in Washington Township. An invasive species is one that is a non-native organizm that is causing harm to the environment, human health or the economy. They are wshown to interrupt the natural functions of an ecosystem by impacting native plants and animals. The NJ Invasive Species Strike Team has created a website to learn more. http://www.njisst.org/NRCSGrant.htm
If you have a smartphone, the power to protect is in your hands!! You can use your phone to help stop the spread of invasive plants. Download the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team APP to help identify and share invasive species that you find.
Why are invasive plants a problem in natural areas?
Like an invading army, invasive plants take over and degrade natural ecosystems, wreaking havoc on the intricate and complex web of life involving native plants, animals and other organisms. Invasive species are extremely harmful as they: 1) out compete natives for limited natural resources including soil, water, light, nutrients and space 2) replace native plantswhich serve as food for wildlife with an inedible, toxic, or otherwise useless resource 3) draw pollinators away from native plants 4)hybridize with native species and 5)push rare species closer to extinction causing an overall reduction in native biodiversity. Some invasive species spread rapidly and can change the character of forests, meadows, wetlands and other natural plant communities into landscapes dominated by a single species termed “monocultures which have little ecological value.
Invasive plants impede recreational activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and biking as they can overgrow trails and riparian areas or form impenetrable tangles in shallow water areas. Once established, invasives require enormous amounts of time, labor and money to manage and most are difficult to eliminate. One estimate of the economic impact of invasive species is $142 billion annually.
How are invasive plants introduced?
People introduce exotic plants intentionally and by accident, through a variety of means. Plants are introduced for food, medicine, landscaping, erosion control, forage, windbreaks and many other purposes. Many non-native plants have great economic value for agriculture, forestry, horticulture and other industries and pose little environmental threat. The potatoes that fed Ireland originated in the South American Andes. The apples we enjoy today originated in Kazakhstan. These are seen to be ‘beneficial’ plant introductions.
Many ornamental species have escaped from plantings to become significant environmental weeds. About two-thirds of the almost 1,200 plants currently reported to be invasive in natural areas in the U.S. were imported for their horticultural value. Japanese barberry, bamboos, privets, Chinese and Japanese wisteria, porcelain-berry, Oriental bittersweet and Princess tree were introduced and planted for ornamental purposes and are now major weeds of natural habitats, requiring significant resources to attempt to control. Other
species have been introduced unknowingly on various imported products soil, water used for ship ballast or packing materials. Japanese stiltgrass, one of our most insidious invasive grasses, was used as packing material for porcelain and likely got a start when some material containing seed was deposited outdoors.
Once established in a new environment exotic species are able to proliferate and expand over large areas and become invasive pests.
How you can prevent the spread of invasive plants
Become familiar with invasive plant species in your area and avoid using them. When selecting plants for landscaping, check the list before purchasing to avoid buying any that are known to be invasive or have a reputation for being weedy. Use native plants whenever possible that are native to the ecological region where you want to use them. Request nurseries to carry a wide variety of native species and offer some suggestions for plants you’ve been looking for. Consumer demand is a powerful tool that can be a major driver behind greater diversity and supply of natives.
If you have invasive plants on your property, consider removing them and replacing them with native species. When visiting a natural area, be alert for invasive species. If you see some, notify the agency or organization responsible for managing the land. Before you leave, avoid carrying “hitchhiking” plant material by taking time to brush seeds from clothing and shoes and remove plant material from boats, trailers and other items.
Taking action against invasive plants involves consideration of the various tools and techniques available for each plant and situation including site conditions, time of year, and resources available. Secondary and unintended consequences of control should also be considered.
The goal is to achieve effective long-term control and eventual restoration by using approaches that pose the least risk of harm to people - especially those conducting the work - and to the environment including non-target plants and wildlife. The bottom line is that the target species will be successfully controlled or at least reduced to a manageable level. This approach is referred to as integrated pest management (IPM).
Often, the most effective method may be to do nothing at all until a suitable safe and well-thought-out tactic can be found. Each method comes with its own set of risks. Use of herbicides poses risks and requirements associated with mixing, application, rinsing, disposal and storage. In order to avoid harm to yourself and others, to non-target plants and animals (including pets), and to the environment, especially in the case of an accidental spill, it is imperative that you are properly and sufficiently trained. No one should be applying herbicides without full knowledge about: 1) reading a pesticide label; 2) what the requirements for applying pesticides in your state are; 3) how to contact the company if there are questions about using the product; 4) how to measure the concentrate; 5) what type of personal protective equipment is required during mixing and application; 6) what type of application equipment is recommended and most appropriate to your situation; 7) calibration of spray equipment, 8) rinsing and cleaning sprayers; and 9) disposal of unused mix, concentrate and containers.
Pesticide use by homeowners on their own property requires that the pesticide be allowed for residential use and that the product is not a Restricted Use pesticide, meaning it can only be applied by a licensed applicator. Application of pesticides on public lands and other properties generally requires certification with the Department of Agriculture in your state, which involves training and testing. Contact the agency in your state responsible for pesticides for more information.
Additional methods and approaches are available and can be obtained by contacting organizations and specialists in the region. It is up to each individual to know and abide by the regulations applicable to the area where herbicide applications will be done. Use pesticides wisely: always read the entire pesticide label carefully, follow all mixing and application instructions and wear all recommended personal protective gear and clothing. Contact your state department of agriculture for any additional pesticide use requirements, restrictions or recommendations.
If plants are pulled up, soil disturbance could bring more weed seed to the surface or facilitate invasion by additional invasive plants. The act of physically removing plants prepares the ground for the next crop of invasives. Lists of native plants are available from most state native plant societies and some state natural resources agencies. Check out Resources page for further guidance. Some great sources of information on the importance and selection of native plants that provide food and shelter for native butterflies, birds, mammals and other wildlife are:
1) Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded by Douglas Tallamy,
2) Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office,
3) Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening and Conservation, by Donald J. Leonard,
4) Designing Gardens with the Flora of the American Northeast, by CarolynSummers, and
5) the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Native Plant Information Network (see References).