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Seeing heavy opposition from neighbors - who are represented by Teaneck Attorney Jan Meyer - on Tuesday night, Lakewood's Planning Board held off from considering Kollel Kinyan Hatorah's application.

The Board directed the developers to obtain a letter from state officials indicating the progress report of their accreditation application.

As first reported here on FAA News, Kollel Kinyan Hatorah Inc. is seeking approval for the construction of a Planned Educational Campus on White Street in Lakewood.

The proposed campus will include a 3-story child care center, 10 duplex dwellings, 2 multi-family residential structures, a pool house building (with a mikvah) and 2 playgrounds.

In total, 52 residential dwelling units are proposed. These units will be leased to the Kollel members.

The child care center will have a capacity of 400 children. The application traffic study claims that 50% of the child care students will reside onsite, and an additional 10% of the children will arrive with a Kollel Kinyan Torah member (i.e. shared driving).

The site plan depicts a loading/unloading area for the child care center.

All ingress for these new buildings will be from White Street. All egress will be through the existing Yeshiva building and out on to Whitesville Road.

No curb or sidewalk exists along the project’s White Street frontage, but both are proposed with this application. Curiously, only minimal widening of White Street is proposed with this application.

The proposed one-way ingress driveway on White Street is 18 feet wide. This will lead to a proposed interior parking area and a two-way 24 foot wide loop to provide access for the duplex dwellings, as well as the pool house.

All traffic will exit the site by driving along a new one-way 18 foot wide driveway which will connect to the existing building parking lot and then exit onto Whitesville Road.

The new parking area from White Street is proposed to contain 77 off-street parking spaces including four 4 ADA stalls and 3 electric vehicle spots. Each of the proposed dwelling units would have a 4-space driveway. This proposes 96 off-street parking spaces. Other site improvements are proposed for the project which includes retaining walls, utilities, stormwater management, landscaping, and lighting. Curbs and sidewalks are also proposed throughout the site.

The application is being presented as a Planned Educational Campus.

The Township's Planned Educational Campus ordinance permits a "not for profit institution of higher education that is a not for profit entity that is fully accredited and licensed by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education of the State of New Jersey and one that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and is devoted to higher education and no other forms of education" to construct a campus.

Campuses require a minimum of 3 acres of land. The campus may contain a variety of types of housing units, including residential apartment buildings, up to 28 units per acre.

The land and all structures including dwelling units shall be owned and developed only by the institution of higher education and not by or in partnership or in other arrangement with any investor group, construction company, a not for profit entity or any other third party.

An educational campus is intended only for faculty and students who will attend or staff the institution's educational facilities and that is adjoining to or within 500 feet of faculty and student housing so as to create a unified campus setting.

The occupancy of the residential uses in the institution of higher education must be limited to: (a) students, faculty or staff of the institution of higher education, or (b) the immediate families of faculty, staff or students.

These parcels contain less than 3 acres in area, however, by connecting this property onto the existing building, they net more than 3 acres.

Additionally, the application seeks numerous variances and design waivers:

• Buffer Areas ( Residential use) Variance as 30 feet minimum is required and “0" feet is proposed. 

• Buffer Areas (School use) Variance as 20 feet minimum is required and “0" feet is proposed

• Recreational Open Space of 0.2 acres (5% x 4.13 acres = 0.2 acres) is required. Only 0.115 acres is proposed.

• Window Wall to Window Wall - Distance between buildings; 15 feet (min) 3 feet (proposed)

• A design waiver is required from providing a non-residential driveway width less than 20 feet wide. The proposed ingress only driveway is 18 feet wide.

The Board Engineer notes that the proposed driveway appears too narrow for truck and bus ingress. Due to the inadequate pavement width south of the right-of-way centerline for White Street, they are recommending that the Board deny the waiver request and that the proposed access driveway be widened to at least 20 feet.

The Board Engineer has also noted the following plan review comments:

• The proposed street tree spacing along White Street shall be adjusted unless a design waiver is granted.

• The proposed sidewalk width shall be clarified along White Street. Unless the proposed sidewalk is 5 feet wide, pedestrian bypass areas will be necessary. A second pedestrian bypass area shall be proposed. 200 feet is the maximum allowable distance between proposed pedestrian bypass areas.

• No pedestrian access to the site has been proposed from White Street. Pedestrian access should be proposed along the east side of the site to minimize conflicts with vehicles. There appears to be a surplus of proposed off-street parking so this can be accomplished.

• Virtually no road widening has been proposed along White Street. The proposed curb has been designed 16 feet from the centerline of the right-of-way. Consideration should be given to proposing the curb 17 feet from the centerline to match the existing west of the site.

• Some duplex driveways are proposed only 6 feet from the interior circulation aisle. This presents a safety concern. A revised design should be considered.

• The Traffic Circulation Plan indicates that proposed traffic circulation remains tight.

Trash pickup from the Department of Public Works is proposed. The residential units and the pool house will have curbside collection.

A Landscaping Plan design appears to include street trees and foundation plantings. Additional proposed landscaping for buffering, and/or fencing are recommended. Landscaping must be provided to the satisfaction of the Board and per comments from the Shade Tree Commission, as practicable. The Board should provide landscaping recommendations.

The proposed site lighting must be revised to include and consider the impact of the existing school building. Furthermore, the proposed site lighting design must revise the limits between the commercial and residential areas.

A Traffic Study has been submitted. We note the following:

a. The unsignalized intersection of White Street and Drake Road is projected to operate at the level of service “C” and “B” for the AM and PM peak hours, respectively, under both the 2033 no build and build conditions.

b. The intersection of Cross Street and White Street/White Road is projected to operate at an overall level of service “B” for both the AM and PM peak street hours, for the 2033 no build and build traffic volumes with the Ocean County sponsored roadway improvements.

c. The Route 528 and Kollel Kinyan Torah egress is projected to operate at level of service “D” during the AM peak street hour and “C” during the PM peak street hour upon full build-out.

d. The White Street ingress is projected to operate at level of service “A” for both the AM and PM peak street hours.

e. The Traffic Study does not adequately discuss the proposed onsite circulation. Testimony shall be provided at the Public Hearing.

The off-street parking calculations require clarification. Final architectural drawings for the existing structure on Lot 1.06 are required for review. Based on the architectural plans from SP 2335, alterations may be necessary. The calculations should also reflect the proposed electric vehicle spaces. Parking shall be provided to the satisfaction of the Board. Final architectural drawings for the existing building on Lot 1.06 are required as a condition of any approval.

As previously reported here on FAA News, upon receiving notice of this Site Plan application, neighbors of the project immediately retained Teaneck Attorney Jan Meyer Esq. to represent their opposition to the application.

At Tuesday night's public hearing, Mr. Meyer highlighted the fact that the Kollel does not comply with the Township's requirement to be fully accredited and licensed by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education of the State of New Jersey and offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Engineer Brian Flannery, representing the Kollel argued back that they do not need to obtain accreditation prior to seeking Site Plan approval from the Planning Board. He added that the Kollel is already in the process of obtaining accreditation.

Ultimately, the Board decided to hold off from considering the application until the Kollel obtains a letter from the State indicating the status of their accreditation application and a timeframe for when they anticipate that accreditation will be complete.

For the time being, the Board placed the application on their February 6, 2024 meeting agenda.

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Anonymous said...

Don’t need to be accredited for plan approval so only to move in? And what happens when they don’t get approved?

Anonymous said...

Gevaldige Ge'onus.
What does state accrediting help for safety of responsible building?