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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Community garden vandalized

HAMMONTON—The community garden was vandalized. Commission member Amy Menzel informed the rest of the Environmental Commission of the vandalism at the June meeting.

Menzel revealed that the vandalism was noticed on May 21. The doors to the shed at the garden were torn off. Menzel said luckily nothing from the shed was stolen.

Signage was also vandalized at the garden. Hammonton Police were notified of the crime.

“While nothing was taken, it’s disheartening that we have this problem,” Menzel said.

This is yet another incident to happen at the community garden. Last season it was reported that there was ongoing theft of produce at the garden.

In lighter news, Menzel revealed later in her Green Committee report that the Community Market will accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) this season. This is a way for low income families to be able to obtain nutritious food. Menzel and the Hammonton Green Committee have been working for months to be able to get SNAP accepted at the market.

The Community Market will be open from June to September on the fourth Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Horton Street. Along with fresh produce, other vendors will be selling artisanal products and sustainable goods.

Commission Chair Dan Bachalis was absent for the June meeting, which promoted Vice-Chair Terri Caruso-Cafiso to Chair for the evening.

After committee reports the Commission discussed tree removal applications. Many of the applications for this month were approved before the meeting. Trees on Lakeview Drive, Grape Street, 11th Street, Waterfront Way, East Lane, S. Second Road, and two properties on Valley Avenue were approved for removal.

Multiple trees that had been listed for removal were undersized according to the current tree ordinance. This has been a common occurrence for tree removal applications.

Commission member Michael Hozik mentioned to councilwoman Renee Rodio that the Commission is looking to lower the diameter to save smaller trees when the tree ordinance is updated.

“That’s why [the ordinance] needs to be changed. If you look at those trees, they are bigger than what you would like to see taken down,” Hozik said.

Commission member Chris Bethmann also mentioned, “The public obviously thinks that these trees should be under our review. Since I’ve been on this commission a majority of the tree applications that we’ve received have been under 20 inches.”

It is unclear whether the public thinks trees under 20 inches in diameter should be under the Commission’s review or if applicants are unsure of the size requirement and are listing the trees to avoid illegally removing trees.

Bachalis, Menzel and Caruso-Cafiso attended the Arbor Day poster contest as they said they would in the May meeting. Menzel and Caruso-Cafiso said they were pleased with the turnout of students and parents.

“It was really neat to see. You could tell that the students paid attention,” Menzel said.

Caruso-Cafiso mentioned that the Commission is still waiting to receive the updated draft of the tree ordinance. Hozik suggested going into a closed session to discuss the tree ordinance. The Commission decided unanimously to go into closed session. The closed session lasted around 25 minutes. After the closed session the meeting was adjourned.

The next Environmental Commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on July 10, at town hall. As always, these meetings are open to the public.

This article was produced in collaboration with New Jersey Civic Information Consortium and Rowan University.


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