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Planning Board Denies Trinity Hall Proposal to Build School in Chapel Hill

A 6-3 vote to deny the application came at 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

Opponents of Trinity Hall's proposal to build in Chapel Hill celebrate after the board's vote to deny the application around 1 a.m. Thursday.
Opponents of Trinity Hall's proposal to build in Chapel Hill celebrate after the board's vote to deny the application around 1 a.m. Thursday.
Trinity Hall's hopes to plant the region's first all-girls high school on a wooded parcel on Chapel Hill Road in Middletown were thwarted early Thursday by the Middletown Township Planning Board's 6-3 vote to deny their application for preliminary final major site plan approval. 

The vote came at 1 a.m. at the conclusion of a marathon 6 1/2 hour meeting dedicated to public comment, which was mostly dominated by Chapel Hill homeowners who laid out arguments against the school's potential impact on roads, traffic, drainage, decibel levels, property values and their quality of life. 

The motion to deny the application was made by member Michael Ostrander, and seconded by member Gail Caroll. Members Greta Siwiec, Charles Heck, John Deus and Frank Wilton joined Ostrander and Caroll in voting "yes" to deny the application.

Voting against denying the application were members John Kardel, Carl Rathjen and Mark Davis. 

Shrieks of celebration, hugs and handshakes broke out among opponents of Trinity Hall's plan at the announcement of the board's vote. Several of the observers had endured six months of planning board meetings from the courtroom's hard wooden pews and worried about the outcome. "I'm jumping with joy," said a beaming David Robinson, a Chapel Hill Road resident. "The residents did their due diligence. This was not a fit, and it was very dangerous for residents," he said, referring to his potential traffic impacts on the country roads. 

On the other side of the room, Trinity Hall supporters appeared stunned and saddened by the vote. Beth Koerwer said her daughter is one girls in the inaugural "leadership class" at Trinity Hall, which is temporarily situated on the Croydon Hall campus in Leonardo. Already, 30 students had contributed 500 volunteer hours of service to their community, she said.  "I think the school would have been a amazing asset to Middletown," she said, shaking her head. She lamented the Planning Board's decision. "They missed the boat," she said.

Laurel June 13, 2014 at 04:45 PM
Six months ago, we put an offer on a house in the Chapel Hill section, just off Chapel Hill Road. The neighborhood seemed perfect for our family, even in the middle of a snowstorm. I was disappointed when it didn't work out. After sitting through a few planning board meetings and listening to this unwelcoming community, I am very thankful we did not put our family in harm's way. Seriously, hearing about the "hair pin turns", the "poor visibility", the "drainage problems and constant flooding even in an average storm", the "death trap that is Chapel Hill Road', the "car accident every thirteen days", "the landscape trucks that speed through residential streets", I can't imagine why would anyone want to move to Chapel Hill? The residents make it sound like the most dangerous and poorly maintained area in Monmouth County. Chapel Hill appears to be a dangerous place even without the addition of a school campus. The Chapel Hill residents worked diligently at portraying a place already plagued with serious problems. And they repeatedly voiced concerns about Property Values in the Chapel Hill Section of Middletown once the proposed campus was up and running. I bet the property values are already going down.... The internet is a powerful thing. Who would want to buy a home in Chapel Hill now? Not for the environmental problems, not for the anger and hatred, and certainly not for the unwelcoming residents.
pbateman85 June 13, 2014 at 05:01 PM
@Laurel Chapel Hill residents are very friendly people to families who want to join our community, but if you want to run a commercial endeavor in our backyards, then look somewhere else; you're not welcome.
River Plaza June 13, 2014 at 05:03 PM
I originally posted to ask questions when this article first came out. Living close but not too close to the site I didn't really follow this. Some posters were very kind and gave me some good, logical insight. I came back to this today and read some of the comments since only to be disappointed. What insensitive, classless posts some of these are. A school prides itself on teaching young women leadership so they bring in a female senator to speak and someone twists it into them being ok with abortion? I'm sure she wasn't there to give a pro-choice speech and I'm also sure the school was not influenced by that post to change their website... don't flatter yourself. You're posting on a message board that MAYBE 100 people read each day. Another person says that Rumson "doesn't want them either", implying that this school is some sort of cancer nobody wants...a SCHOOL. I mean, really? I'm in awe of this. The reasonable people of this neighborhood should be absolutely embarrassed to be associated with this. If someone is house shopping and googles your neighborhood, "chapel hill", this is what they'll see. I'm done with these posts.
Nancy Davis June 13, 2014 at 08:54 PM
What a loss the community that Trinity Hall was not approved. I grew up two houses in from Chapel Hill Road. There's no reason this should not have been approved. You can't expect privately owned undeveloped areas to stay that way forever. CBA's campus is a great addition to Lincroft. I hope you didn't pass on one thing to end up with town homes and state required low income housing.


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