The Vernon Township Council plans to create a committee charged with recommending which open spaces the township should buy.
The open space committee would be ad hoc and have no more than nine members, who would be appointed by the mayor and approved by the township council.
“It would be strictly advisory and strictly ad-hoc,” said council president Harry Shortway during a discussion on Oct. 15.
The council initially discussed handing that responsibility to the township’s Environmental Commission, but council members did not like the idea.
Shortway said an open space committee was proposed in 2010, with members of the township council set to serve on the committee, when the form of government changed in 2011.
“Right now, I don’t think the Environmental Commission should be the open space committee,” Shortway said.
Councilwoman Jean Murphy said she didn’t want to relinquish control to the Environmental Commission. She said she had no problem with an ad-hoc committee.
“I have no problem in pursuing it,” said John Auberger, the council vice president. “But I think the final decision should be with the elected officials.”
Mayor Howard Burrell said he also was not favor of turning the open space responsibility over to the Environmental Commission. He liked the idea of a committee that will meet as needed.
Shortway said forming the committee will require a change in the township code and not affect the township’s 2021 budget. He said he would investigate what other communities are doing with their own open space committees. The Environmental Commission already has a lot on its plate, he said.
“I think it would be prudent to what’s going on in the Highlands because we have our own set of rules,” Shortway said.
Burrell said he would like a recommendation from the council on how they would like the committee to be composed. “I like having a broad spectrum of people in there,” he said.
“I really do like the idea of individuals making the final decision are the ones who put themselves out there and go out and get petitions,” Burrell said. “I’d like those people to make the decisions, rather than some advisory committee.”
“I really do like the idea of individuals making the final decision are the ones who put themselves out there and go out and get petitions. I’d like those people to make the decisions, rather than some advisory committee.” Mayor Howard Burrell