It seems that Lakewood developers are hard at work doing all they can to ensure that we do not receive adequate traffic improvements, a FAA News investigation reveals.

Back in July 2021, Bnos Devora received Site Plan approval from Lakewood Township's Planning Board for construction of a new two-story, 232,903 sq feet, wedding hall and girls high school building, adjacent to their existing elementary school building on Oak Street.

The plans include a parking lot with 366 spaces.

Prior to voting to approve the application, the Board received a number comments from members of the public that the Township's ordinances did not, at the time, permit banquet halls in schools. The Board chose to consider banquet halls a permitted use anyways, and approved the application.

This project is now known as The Chasuna Initiative.

Site clearing for the project first began in July 2022 and construction is now well underway.

However, the project has not yet received final approval from the Ocean County Planning Board.

This is because County officials have been doing everything in their wherewithal to ensure that the traffic impact of the banquet hall is properly considered, and that any necessary traffic improvements are imposed prior to The Chasuna Initiative receiving keys to their doors.

The traffic report originally submitted by the developers of The Chasuna Initiative only counted traffic during the day, for the school use. Additionally, the report only looked at traffic flow along Oak Street, but not at the Oak Street/ New Hampshire Avenue intersection.

The Ocean County Planning Board pushed back hard and directed the developers to "analyze the Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue intersection to determine impacts to County facilities during peak hours and also during off-peak multi-function hall events, as this is one of many halls in the area creating traffic peak outside typical peak hours."

Subsequently, as imposed in connection with the Lakewood Commons expansion, the intersection of the Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue intersection was upgraded with dedicated left turning arrows and turning lanes.

The developers of The Chasuna Initiative submitted their revised traffic report after the intersection received these upgrades.

The report concludes that the only additional upgrades warranted is the modification of the traffic signal to extend the green light on Oak Street for 1-3 seconds for certain peak travel hours.

The revised traffic report came to this fantastic conclusion by considering traffic from 6:00pm-7:00pm.

"6:00pm-7:00pm was analyzed for evening events, to account for traffic generated by the multi-purpose room," the traffic report states.

The traffic report indicates that the building will contain 2 banquet halls with a total occupancy of 800 guests at one time. The report states that they anticipated traffic based on 3 occupants per car.

Coincidentally, 800÷3 is 266, whereas their parking lot will contain 366 spaces. The developers did not explain why they need 100 more parking spaces if indeed, the banquet halls will only generate 266 vehicles.

The developers also did not explain why they only looked at traffic for 6:00pm-7:00pm.

Had they counted the actual number of vehices truly anticipated for The Chasuna Initiative, and during the actual times that we drive to and from simchos, based on the number of banquet halls already operating along Oak Street - and the number of future banquet halls which have already been approved along Oak Street - likely more actual traffic improvements would be warranted.

It seems that the developers are simply doing all they can to ensure that we do not receive meaningful traffic improvements.

Ironically, a large root of the problem here is due to "who does what." The Township decides what uses are permitted where, whereas the County decides what traffic improvements are warranted where. So, when developers present applications to the Township's Planning Board they confidently assure the board that "the county will take a very close look at traffic." Then, when they go to the County they quietly present these "traffic reports" that undercount cars and don't look at the accurate traffic hours. The losers are... us.

Assemblyman Avi Schnall (D-30), whose election campaign ran on a "safe streets advocate" platform, was unavailable for comment.

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Anonymous said...

Don’t try and make schnall look bad for this.
The problem here lies within the corrupt power system built in Lakewood.
We need a whole new local government and a whole new planning and zoning board.
The boards need to be made up of people who the “askanim” hold no power over. No phone calls saying approve or we’ll make life miserable for you.
No phone calls saying approve or your kids won’t get into school.
No phone calls saying approve or you will lose your job.

Anonymous said...

Auerbachh & Schmuck ler are real pros at gaming the system to screw us over. How do these clowns still have any credibility left??