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Sustainable Jersey is a network and movement of municipalities, schools and school districts working collectively to bring about a sustainable New Jersey. It aims to achieve a sustainable New Jersey, one community at a time and to empower New Jersey communities to build a better world for future generations with the tools, training and financial incentives necessary to pursue critical sustainability initiatives.

Closter's Certification

Closter meets Sustainable Jersey’s bronze certification requirements and was certified on September 21, 2023 with 160 points. Read the full certification report here.

Thank you to Scott Devlin for all of his work and his leadership in getting Closter certified with Sustainable Jersey.

Actions Implemented

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: The Closter Environmental Commission was created in 1976. Its members are directly appointed by the Mayor, without the advice and consent of the Council. It meets monthly and has seven full member slots, two alternate slots, and unlimited associate member slots. It received funding through the municipal budgeting process via its own line item, which was $6,500 for 2022. The ordinance governing the Environmental Commission can be found here.

 

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: The Closter Environmental Commission reviews development applications that come before the Planning and Zoning Boards. The depth of the review depends on the size of the development and the amount of construction. The Environmental Commission tends to focus on trees. By ordinance, one member of the Environmental Commission must be a member of the Planning Board to facilitate communication and dialogue on environmental topics.

 

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter has one of the area’s most stringent tree ordinances that protects private trees from unwarranted destruction and serves to maintain the tree canopy as well as the water-absorbing benefits of deep tree roots. The ordinance limits the number of trees that can be removed and places restrictions upon the granting of tree removal permits. In addition, trees removed must in many circumstances be replaced. Both the resolution and ordinance are included in File 1.

 

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 20

 

Program Summary: Participation in the NJUCF has enabled Closter to obtain a state grant to complete a shade tree inventory. It has also guided the Shade Tree Commission in organizing its pruning, planting, and tree removals to maximize the tree canopy and respond to Closter’s residents’ complaints and concerns about shade trees. The Shade Tree Commission meets once a month and is appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council.

 

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter conducted a Shade Tree Inventory in 2022. It was complete by contracted company with expertise in conducting shade tree inventories. Please see attached Tree Hazard Reports.

 

Category: Natural Resources | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: The Shade Tree Commission generally plants between 40-50 Shade Trees per year in the right of way and parks. The funding comes from the Shade Tree Commission’s budget and the Shade Tree Trust Fund. The Shade Tree Commission chooses the locations based on the site’s suitability to host a tree and prevent conflicts with other trees and utility wires, as well as in consultation with the property owner. In 2022, the trees were planted in tranches due to the budget and ability to utilize the Shade Tree Trust fund. Included is the price quote utilized for the first 18 as well as the final list of all that were planted and source of funds.

 

Category: Arts & Creative Culture | Points: 5

 

Program Summary: Mayor’s Committee for the Arts The Mayor’s Committee for the Arts organizes artistic performances throughout the year. It solicits interested artists that would like to perform and gives them a stage in Closter. The most popular events have been concerts at Closter Plaza. Another location utilized is the Closter Library. Attached, please find an artist solicitation, planned upcoming concerts in the Mayor’s Newsletter, and a letter from the Mayor creating the Committee.

 

The Belskie Museum of Art & Science

Located in Closter, NJ, the Belskie Museum of Art and Science was founded by the Closter Lions Club to preserve, house and exhibit the works of Abram Belskie, a sculptor, medical illustrator, and resident of Closter. Upon completion of the museum in 1993, The Closter Lions Club donated it to the Borough of Closter. The Belskie Museum is operated as a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation under the direction of a six member Board of Directors appointed by the Borough of Closter, the Closter Lions Club, and the Closter Library Board of Trustees. Funding is from grants, memberships, exhibitions and donations. The museum is run solely through the efforts of volunteers. The museum exhibits ten shows yearly; the museum also has a collection of works donated by exhibiting artists. The museum works in collaboration with the Art Students League of New York City and the Vytlacil School of Plein Air Painting in Sparkill, New York in producing exhibitions of works by instructors and students. As part of Northern Valley Regional High School’s community service program, senior students organize, install and monitor their own art exhibit each May under the guidance of their art teachers and the museum. Closter funds the Museum with an annual $5,000 appropriation in the municipal budget.

 

Category: Community Partnership & Outreach | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: The Borough of Closter is a municipality in Bergen County with about 10,000 residents. The Closter Green Team is an active, volunteer group that promotes the adoption of sustainable practices and pursues Sustainable Jersey certification for the Borough. The Green Team consists of members of the Closter Environmental Commission in addition to a member of the Closter Shade Tree Commission, the Closter Public Schools Superintendent, and the Closter Nature Center’s lead Naturalist.

 

In 2009, Closter registered a Green Team with Sustainable Jersey. However, at that time the volunteer members were not able to complete the certification process. After changes to the composition of the Environmental Commission in 2022, certification efforts were resumed. On July 27, 2022, the Borough of Closter voted to support the Green Team via Resolution #22-162. As the Green Team is closely aligned with the Environmental Commission, the EC’s monthly meeting minutes include updates on Green Team and Sustainable Jersey efforts.

 

Over the past year, the Green Team and the Environmental Commission have made progress on several sustainability initiatives with positive community impacts:

  • Issuing public announcements via a new, dedicated website (www.sustainablecloster.org)
  • Providing additional public communications via the monthly Mayor’s Newsletter (www.closterboro.com/closter/Newsletters)
  • Providing comments during multiple site plan reviews to encourage energy efficiency, renewable energy, and tree removal mitigation
  • Developing a public garden project that showcases native grasses and groundcovers in MacBain Farm
  • Developing a public garden project that showcases pollinators in Buzzoni Farm Park
  • Engaging scout troops and volunteers in improving public gardens
  • Organizing “Closter Cleanup Day,” a volunteer cleanup of trails and streets
  • Organizing “No Mow May,” a campaign to encourage pollinators
  • Selecting and procuring environment-related books for the Closter Public Library 
  • Developing a plan to gradually electrify municipal fleet vehicles 

 

Category: Energy | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: The Borough of Closter has a municipal fleet of 35 light-duty trucks, 24 heavy-duty vehicles, and 3 passenger cars. Most vehicles perform essential services and are operated by the Department of Public Works and the Police Department, which each represent about half of the fuel consumption. 60% of GHG emissions are due to diesel fuel and 40% from gasoline; there are currently no hybrid or electric vehicles in the fleet.

 

Beyond small improvements through telematics and training, we propose a path to electrification in the following phases:

  1. Obtain a single Police patrol vehicle as a demonstration and test during 2023-2024, which will familiarize officers with the technology and its benefits. This will require a single L2 charger installation and can be done at low cost. 
  2. Building on the success of this pilot, develop a plan to transition the Police fleet to EV’s over several years (e.g. 2024-2030). This will also require investment in electrical service, probably including at least one Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) and stationary backup batteries to support charging during power outages. Federal and state incentives and local community support will be critical to funding these upgrades.
  3. As they become available, DPW can follow a similar path to test electric versions of light- to heavy duty utility vehicles (e.g. F250, F350, F450) as replacements for their diesel fleet. The fuel savings and speedy performance of the Police vehicles will likely support this change. This transition will likely occur towards the end of the decade, assuming the supply chain can support a breakneck growth rate. 
  4. In concert with vehicle electrification and charging infrastructure, any opportunities to develop distributed generation (DG) via solar panels should be seriously considered. Solar generation on municipal buildings will support building electrification goals, reduce grid demand, and provide additional resilience.

 

Category: Food | Points: 10

Program Summary: The Closter Food and Assistance Board runs a food pantry that serves about 45 families. It is run by the Closter Food and Assistance Board which is appointed by the Mayor. All members are volunteers, municipal staff is minimally involved in running the food pantry. It is supported by many community groups and members that run food drives and donate food. Volunteers collect donations, respond to inquiries from folks using the food pantry, package the food, and manage pick-up. Food is provided to clients based on needs and requests from the clients.

Category: Food | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter owns the MacBain farm, a five and a half acre farm used entirely for the benefit of the residents of the Borough. Each Closter family is entitled to pick fresh vegetables in season, once a week, for free, during the growing season. Volunteers are available to explain about the farm and monitor its use. It also holds an end-of-the-summer celebration, with bonfire, marshmallow roasts, and pumpkins which brings several hundred parents and children to the farm each year. The current caretaker is a graduate of the Cornell School of Agriculture who lives on the property. He plants crops and cares for them during the growing season in exchange for housing. The picking rules, hours, and policies are made by the MacBain Farm Committee, a group of volunteers appointed by the Mayor. Residents also volunteer to weed, stake tomatoes, and guide visitors. MacBain Farm Park won an Achievement Award in 2019 from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions.

 

Category: Land Use & Transportation | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: To promote traffic and pedestrian safety in Closter, flashing stop coming soon and stop signs were installed at intersections in town. The signs are solar-powered and motion activated. They draw the driver’s attention by flashing as a driver approaches an intersection to ensure a full and complete safe stop.

 

Category: Public Information & Engagement | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter maintains a municipal website that allows for the online processing of pet licenses , property taxes, moving violations, and recreation programs. It also has a request for service feature where residents can report issues to the municipality. Closter also has links to the recycle coach app for garbage and recycling pick ups. The police department also allows for reporting complaints and obtaining accident reports online.

 

Category: Waste Management | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter’s Police Department supports two options for residents to dispose of unwanted medications: (1) the “DEA National Take Back Day” held twice a year, (2) a medication drop box that is available 24/7. The DEA events are promoted on the Department’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Here are links to recent posts promoting the April 22, 2023 event. (They are also captured in the attached PDF files.) Instagram | Facebook

 

The permanent drop-off location is a box available 24/7 and located in Closter’s Borough Hall (1st Floor, 295 Closter Dock Rd, Closter, NJ 07624). It is advertised on the Closter Police Department website, as well as a flyer posted on the community bulletin board at the Closter Public Library.

Closter Police Dept website | Flyer

 

All medications are disposed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The last 3 collections yielded 25 pounds, 66 pounds and 43 pounds. Note: this information is current as of July, 2023.

 

Category: Waste Management | Points: 10

 

Program Summary: Closter was among the first New Jersey municipalities to have a Recycling Center. Closter’s residents have been separating paper, plastic and metal since 1984. It is not an option here. Those who fail to recycle are warned and then fined, and everyone who moves to Closter soon learns that recycling is important. Our Borough Calendar, published by the DPW, clearly explains what to do (see attachment). The Recycling Center is located centrally in Closter on Ruckman Road and is easily accessible. Closter’s brush, branch and leaf pick up is all turned into compost or mulch, and is available for residents to use for their own yards. Additionally, mixed plastic/glass/metal recycling is picked up at homeowners’ curbside by Interstate. Closter uses and promotes the recycle coach app to bring recycling information and answers directly to constituents in the most convenient manner.

 

Future Actions for Silver Certification

  • Establish a Creative Team
  • Brownfields Inventor & Prioritization
  • Green Fair
  • Energy Efficiency for Municipal Facilities (PRIORITY)
  • Renewable Government Energy Aggregation
  • Residential Energy Efficiency Outreach
  • Make Your Town Solar Friendly
  • Electric Vehicle Community Outreach
  • Public Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
  • Make Your Town Electric Vehicle Friendlv
  • Create Green Development Checklist
  • Green Building Education
  • New Construction
  • Upgrade/Retrofit-Light Pollution
  • Natural Resource Inventory (PRIORITY)
  • Green Purchasing Policy *NEW*
  • Recycled Copy Paper
  • Municipal Communications Strategy
  • Municipal Carbon Footprint (PRIORITY)
  • Backyard Composting Program
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