Hunting Suspension On Rt. 518 Parcel Supported By Open Space Committee

Route 518 resident Lisa Kapsokefalos says she does not feel safe with the thought of hunters passing so close to her property.

A decision by the Township Council to suspend hunting for this year on a newly acquired tract of land on Route 518 was supported September 21 by the Open Space Advisory Committee.

The move was made as a result of complaints by a homeowner whose property abuts the narrow access road that was to be used by hunters.

The open Space committee regularly makes recommendations to the Council on the township’s annual hunting program. The Committee voted to suggest including the 124-acre parcel in this year’s hunting program, which the Council adopted.

But complaints by Lisa Kapsokefalos, whose property is bordered by the parcel, prompted the Council at its September 14 meeting to temporarily halt hunting on the land until the issues she raised could be dealt with.

Kapsokefalos, who has owned the property for three years, said she was surprised on September 12, while lying outside in her backyard, when trucks of hunters showed up on the access road.

The road is about a dozen feet away from her lawn furniture.

Kapsokefalos, who lives in the house with her daughter, said she feared for her and her daughter’s safety.

Kapsokefalos brought her complaints to the Open Space Committee on September 21, and members were receptive.

“I find it to be a huge invasion of my privacy,” she told committee members. “I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel my daughter is safe.”

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said the basic problem is that there is no access to that parcel, and intimated that it should not have been included in the township’s inventory of hunting areas.

“I think this kind of emphasizes the need for the subcommittee that recommends properties to actually go out” and look at properties it is recommending including on the township’s hunting inventory, he said.

“My specific concern is there’s no place for anyone to park,” Vornlocker said. “There’s no way for them to access this, and you certainly can’t park on the county highway, so there’s no way to access this property.”

Vornlocker noted that what is supposed to be the access driveway, off Route 518, is narrow and heavily wooded. He said it would take a bout a month to clear the area, and it’s too late in the season to have public works employees do it.

He said the township would also have to have the state Department of Environmental Protection determine if there are wetlands on the parcel.

“Before we add properties to the hunting inventory, we should at the very least go out and look at them,” he repeated.

Attempting to address Kapsokefalos’, safety concerns, Committee chairman Bob Puskas said that non-hunters have never been injured in New Jersey.

Committee member Arnold Schmidt suggested erecting a wooden fence along Kapsokefalos’ property line on teh access road, but that had no Committee support.

“Obviously, a fence can be built on a property line,” Vornlocker said. “I don’t know that that resolves the problems on this property. The problem isn’t just providing a buffer … the problem is access to an area where people can park to have access to the property to hunt there. That’s what I’m trying to say. There is no access there.”

“It’s not an appropriate place, it’s not safe, it’s a 50-mph speed limit, and I would not want hunters in a township hunting program to park there,” he said.

Puskas said that hunting access is not the only concern on the property.

“The other thing we have to keep in mind, somewhere along the line we may put in trails,” he said. “We have to have access to the property. If we’re not going to use this for active or passive recreation, what the heck did we buy it for?”

“I believe we bought it to protect it from development,” Vornlocker said.

Puskas said he would be willing to survey the property to see what could be done to open up the property. Committee members Charles Martin and Schmidt, and Township Councilman Ted Chase said they would walk the property with him.

“Of course, there’s the question of where you’re going to park,” Chase joked.

Kapsokefalos later thanked the Committee for their consideration, and said that any member who wanted to walk the property could park in her driveway.

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