Judge orders Silver Spruce property cleaned up

Vernon. Judge grants DEP injunction, giving Joseph Wallace 60 days to clean up "solid waste" from 3 Silver Spruce Drive.

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  • PHOTOS BY MIKE ZUMMO The Vernon Township Council recently passed a resolution calling for the resignation of DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe for the agency's slow reaction to the dirt pile at 3 Silver Spruce Drive.

  • The Vernon Township Council recently passed a resolution calling for the resignation of DEP's Director of Solid Waste Enforcement Mike Hastry.

The owner of the 75-foot dirt pile at 3 Silver Spruce Drive has been ordered to clean up the site.

Superior Court Judge Maritza Berdote Byrne has granted an injunction by the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection ordering Joseph Wallace 60 days to characterize all fill material located on the property to determine if it meets the state's definition of solid waste. He has 120 days from the June 3 order to remove and dispose of all material, which meets the definition of solid waste.

The decision also states that Wallace must provide access to the DEP or others acting on the state's behalf to perform any sampling of the material or perform inspections to determine compliance.

He has 10 days to provide DEP with the complete documentation on the source and nature of material brought on the site since 2019.

He also has 60 days to place enough money in escrow or a trust account to pay for solid waste removal and must implement a soil erosion and sediment control plan for the property.

Now with the court decision DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said she was waiting for during a May 20 town hall meeting at Vernon Township High School, residents now have to wait to see if Wallace complies with the order.

Many said then they don't expect him too to.

When asked who would have to follow through should Wallace refuse, McCabe pointed to herself to indicate DEP, but no one was able to produce a dollar amount or a timeframe to clean up the pile.

There are still other legal matters to attend to, including municipal court summons related to the dirt pile.

Vernon Township Mayor Harry Shortway said the third day of Wallace's trial will be on July 25 at 9 a.m. Should the trial fail to finish, it would finish July 26.

Last Thursday, the Vernon Township Council passed a resolution calling for the resignation of McCabe, Director of Solid Waste Enforcement Mike Hastry and Director of Local Government Assistance Kerry Pflulgh over the DEP's slow response to the issue.

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