• Joseph F. Berenato

Environmental Commission met on February 10


Commission Chairperson Dan Bachalis said that the Lake Water Quality Advisory Committee received a $1,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops to support the lake vegetation study, and that Stockton University would be utilizing those funds to purchase materials and supplies. (THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—The Hammonton Environmental Commission held its regular monthly meeting on February 10 at 7 p.m. via Zoom teleconferencing software.


During the meeting, two members of the public appeared before the commission regarding their tree applications.


The first was Robert Materazzi, Jr., of 4 Mill Run Dr. Materazzi’s application noted that he is building a new home and, as such, was requesting permission to clear the lot, with trees to be replaced as needed.


While discussing the application, commission chairperson Dan Bachalis inquired about a tree that was marked, but did not appear on the diagram submitted with Materazzi’s application.


“That was a last-second thing. It was close to the neighbor; it was leaning over onto his property, but I do not have to take that tree down. It was leaning his way, which is why I had a ribbon around it,” Materazzi said.


Bachalis concurred that, since Materazzi is clearing the lot, now is the time to address that particular tree.


“If it’s not necessary to cut it, it would be nice to try to be able to save it. If it is growing along the fence, there’s a possibility, as the tree ages, it will get larger and start to do a number on the fence,” Bachalis said.


Commissioner Charles Crowley agreed with that assessment.


“If he has the tree guys there, it would be better if he took it down now,” Crowley said.


Materazzi also affirmed that he will be replacing trees once construction is completed.


“Am I going to plant some? Yes, and there’s going to be landscaping and some small trees,” Materazzi said.


Bachalis said that the commission has a non-binding brochure with recommended trees that are native to Hammonton.


“There are some trees that we would ask you not to plant, such as Callery pear, because they do tend to be invasive, and they’re not very good trees,” Bachalis said.


The application was approved.


The second resident was Kyle Strickland, whose application was for 247 E. 15th St. Strickland’s application was also for clearing an undeveloped lot for the construction of a home.


Commissioner Dr. Michael Hozik conceded the necessity for clearing the lot for said construction, but inquired as to the necessity for removing all of them.


“There are some rather nice, large, older trees, and you show them on the plan. It would be helpful if you could, beforehand, tell us which ones you’re going to attempt to leave. Obviously, the ones that are in the footprint of the house aren’t going to work, and I would strongly advise against leaving trees along the path for your septic lines. Some of them are more discretionary than others, and it would be nice if we had a better idea of which ones you’re going to try to save,” Hozik said.


Strickland said that, outside of the footprint and the septic system, plans to remove additional trees have not been finalized.


“There are a few up by the driveway we’re going to try to leave. If you go within 50 feet behind the house, there are a lot back there that we do want to try to save as well. The ones that you see really far back towards the back of the house and on the side, as long as they’re not in the general area of the septic or the house and have to be removed, we are going to try to keep as many as possible,” Strickland said.


Strickland said that roughly 30 large trees were noted for the application, and that approximately 40 percent of them would be removed.


“I think we’ll get a better idea, too, as we clear the area of the house and see where the back of the house sits. We just want to make sure nothing is going to be hanging close to it and risk damage in the future,” Strickland said.


The application was approved.


In other commission business, during committee reports, Bachalis said that a special presentation will be held at the March 8 meeting of the Lake Water Quality Advisory Committee, regarding a collaboration between the committee and Stockton University environmental studies professors Dr. Emma Witt and Dr. Aaron Stoler.


“Emma is conducting lake water testing. She had a class out there this past fall, and will be continuing that in the future. Professor Stoler is doing a study of the vegetation in the lake: which species are in there, in what proportions, where they’re located. He’s actually collaborating with their GIS (geographic information system) gurus at Stockton to develop a 3D map of the lake and the vegetation on the lake floor,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis said that Stoler was also looking to research the impact of road salt on Hammonton Lake and testing lake salinity. Witt, Bachalis said, was going to be conducting a graduate-level course on watershed management, using Hammonton Lake as a starting point.


“They intend to do these studies into the future, so we’ll get some really good longitudinal data from them, and hopefully be able to expand into a couple of other research areas yet to be decided. It’s a really great opportunity, and it further solidifies the link between the town and Stockton University,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis said that the Lake Water Quality Advisory Committee received a $1,000 grant from Bass Pro Shops to support the lake vegetation study, and that Stockton University would be utilizing those funds to purchase materials and supplies.


Bachalis encouraged the commissioners to attend the committee’s next meeting.


“Professors Witt and Stoler, along—I hope—with their students, will be presenting the results from last semester’s research, so that should be a really good opportunity,” Bachalis said, noting that an invitation would also be extended to representatives from Bass Pro Shops.


Later in the meeting, the commission also entertained the following additional tree removal applications:


Alan Kappauf, 650 E. Pleasant St. One tree, one replacement. Tree dying, dropping limbs on cars.


Stephen Prakash, 116 Winding Way. One tree, one replacement. Dying, very hollow.


Alessio Venturini, 221 N. Grand St. Two trees, six replacements. Too close to house.


The applications were approved.


A fourth application was submitted by Frank Ingemi of 150 N. Chew Rd. to clear trees on the undeveloped lot at 200 N. Chew Rd. That application was tabled until the commission’s next meeting to afford the applicant the opportunity to offer testimony.


The Hammonton Environmental Commission meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Their next meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on March 10.