Vernon takes inventory of all of its natural resources

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    VERNON-The township's inventory of resources has entered the digital age. After some 18 months of work, the Vernon Township Environmental Commission delivered its update of the town's physical resources to the planning board. The last time such a report was completed, in 1991, it was in the form of a bulging and unwieldy tome. This time, commission chairman Craig Williams was able to hand the planning board a CD. On it is the updated draft of the Vernon Township Natural Resourse Inventory, complete with charts and graphs and colorful displays showing the geography, topography, climate, geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation, wildlife, wetlands, land use and historical sites of the 69-mile square township. The survey was completed by John Q. Robinson of Geo Environmental Research at a cost that Williams expects to be less than $10,000. It was developed using the latest global information systems - G.I.S. - mapping techniques. While the new draft doesn't present any major changes to the 1991 inventory, said Williams, "The resolution level is much greater. The information is much more available; it's much more visual. You can look at the information in any way you want on any different level." The inventory, which is a kind of reference book for planners, is required by state law. "The pupose of it is to provide guidance to the planning board in developing land use, zoning and environmental insight into what the land can support and what it can't support," Williams said. The digital document delivered to the board is a draft that the planning board will either accept or send back for more information. The commission hopes that the planning board will incorporate it into the town's mater plan. Williams said that some soil information was late in arriving from county planners, but, because the document is digital, that information and any other new information can readily be inserted. Once the planning board accepts the inventory, it will be put on the township's Web site, where all residents can have access to it. It will also aid prospective developers by letting them know immediately what types of construction is appropriate for a specific plot. "An aspiring applicant could take his land and have a pre-meeting without planning professionals and look at the constraints prior to the applicant spending a dime on consulting engineWilliams said. Although there aren't major changes, some of the new information about the township in the inventory might have affected developments done in the past 13 years. "If this were available in 1991," he said, "there are probably some things in place now that wouldn't be here." The best thing about the inventory, Williams said, is that the township will not have to wait another 13 years to incorporate all the latest data in it. Whenever information about the land and everything on it becomes available, it can simply be inserted in the appropriate place in the digital document. Also, in digital format, it is easy for any resident to also use it. "We want to make this document available to any citizen or anyone l