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Trinity Hall's Impact to Chapel Hill Traffic a Concern for Planners

Planning Board members want to see more traffic data

The proposed Trinity Hall all-girls school complex. Chapel Hill Road is located at the top. Credit Gregory Kyriakakis
The proposed Trinity Hall all-girls school complex. Chapel Hill Road is located at the top. Credit Gregory Kyriakakis

More information about how Trinity Hall’s proposed all-girls school will affect traffic on Chapel Hill Road is needed before Middletown Planning Board members can vote on the complex, they said Wednesday. 

Experts testified about plans for the 320 Chapel Hill Rd. campus, including its layout, expected occupancy and parking configuration. But it was the potential impact to Chapel Hill Road—and a traffic report Planning Board members felt was incomplete—that drew criticism.

“I think the abbreviated report you gave us doesn't give us adequate information,” said board member Kevin Settembrino in response to a document prepared by traffic engineer Mark Kataryniak, a witness for the applicant.

Board members expressed concerns that the school, which once completed is expected to have an enrollment of 400-450 students, will generate more pupil vehicle traffic than Kataryniak’s report anticipates.

“I knew right from the word ‘go’ when I read this that there was something wrong,” said board member Michael Ostrander, who added it is likely more than 15 percent of students—the number used in the report—will use personal transportation to school. “We need a realistic view of what traffic is going to be like in that area.”

Though the area’s zoning allows for expanded traffic, board attorney James Gorman said the safety impact of those additional vehicles can be examined. As such, Kataryniak agreed to reappear during the board’s next meeting on Feb. 19 with more data.

The school has been operating in a temporary location on Leonardville Road in Leonardo, and is poised to service as a female counterpart to the all-boys Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft.

Trinity Hall wants to split its land, allotting 37.75 acres for the development of the school. No current development is planned on the remaining 26.30 acres, according to the public notice.

The complex, which would be completed in phases, requires preliminary and final major site plan approval.

The applicant proposed widening the shoulders near the school’s proposed entrance off of Chapel Hill Road. That would allow vehicles room to pass on the right someone making a left-hand turn into the complex.

But the legality and safety of that configuration was a concern for the board, and members said they would like the applicant to consider the installation of turning lanes.

“There is a danger here. Passing on the right doesn’t cut it for me,” said member Carl Rathjen, who added speeding can be a problem on Chapel Hill Road.

Trinity Hall said that the school has adequate parking, including during sporting and other events, and agreed to ban overflow parking on Chapel Hill Road.

Nearby neighbors have taken issue with the school and its placement, and they came to the Wednesday night meeting, nearly filling Middletown’s courtroom. An online petition started by Jennifer Valencia states the school would impact “wetlands, protected birds, and other local wildlife including deer.”

“Building a school in this area, will not only be a disaster for the rural areas affected, but will also add congestion and traffic to Chapel Hill Road,” the petition reads.

Some residents at the meeting asked if the school’s potential impact on property values could be a reason for denial. Gorman responded that the board legally cannot take that into consideration when making its decision.

The applicant said that the plan meets township ordinance standards and requires no variances, though a few design waivers were requested. Fencing and additional trees would be installed to further shield the school from neighbors.

John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:08 PM
Commonman. Your posts are not even making sense. Are you slow or drunk?
commonman February 23, 2014 at 07:15 PM
What doesn't make sense is a group of people that lie to prevent a good school from being built in their neighborhood. These schools are an investment in our kids u dint like then gtfo
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:15 PM
CHNO - your petition reflects your shady arguments. Did I see someone from Hawaii signed it? Also Philadelphia? Did anyone from Middletown sign it? How many Chapel Hill neighborhood residents signed it? Like I said, you and your position are based on lies and misleading information.
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:20 PM
First, none of the opposers have lied. Second, No neighborhood should be exposed to spawns from an idiot like you.
commonman February 23, 2014 at 07:29 PM
John ur a very angry Man U would probably be better off living in a cabin in the woods by yourself leave these decisions to the rational adults
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Commonman. I would love to have a battle of wits with you but obviously you are unarmed. Or, let me simplify that statement so you can understand it. You seem stupid.
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:39 PM
CHNO - Your statistic is incorrect. You should do some due diligence on your facts before you post them as truth. Since 2011, 89 accidents have been reported on Chapel Hill Road. I can send you a copy of each accident report if you like. We do our homework, confirm facts, then make statements. You are dealing with intelligent people that speak the truth. Not sheep that believe and spread half-truths.
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:42 PM
commonman - you really have nothing of worth to post. I bet if I was named "Jane Chapel Hill" you would be full of insults. I will leave you alone for now. Don't insult woman and I will leave you be.
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:45 PM
Also CHNO, I bet that you do not live in Chapel Hill. I would venture to say you do not live in Middletown. I am pretty sure you are a Rumson mom to a Trinity Hall student or a Trinity Hall employee. Am I correct?
Chapel Hill Neighborhood Organization February 23, 2014 at 07:45 PM
Cleary, you should check your petition and while you're looking at those that support, please take a look at the numbers. "Scoreboard"
commonman February 23, 2014 at 07:47 PM
Maybe if this town had better schools I would be as smart as u u must be Ivy League too u seem like a typical know it all nimby douche
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:47 PM
Our petition was signed by real Chapel Hill residents. Not strangers who have never been in Middletown. Again, I feel like I am discussing this issue with children.
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 07:52 PM
Stop blaming your lack of intelligence and laziness on the school system. You would be just as dumb if you had the opportunity to go to Harvard. It is not about schools, its about having an independent thought and validating what people are telling you. My intelligence and success is a product of hard work. No Ivy League schools and no rich parents. But, I will take your impression of me as flattering, aside from the douche thing. Go read a book or something!
commonman February 23, 2014 at 08:15 PM
U really love urself next time I'm driving down chapel at 75 Mph I will make sure to give the sign of the cross since I will be in gods neighborhood. Kys j o
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 08:17 PM
CHNO - are you still claiming that 300 town homes would alternatively be developed there? If so, I know that you are a Trinity Hall employee. The "300 Townhouse Lie" is a scare tactic that was disproved weeks ago. So, I suspect you are a Trinity Hall admin. Same person who wrote the email about the rock quarry. Very catholic-like!!! Is not the 8th commandment directly relevant here?
Jennifer Valencia February 23, 2014 at 08:18 PM
All: I submitted an OPRA in early February. In that OPRA I requested accidents on Chapel Hill Road and Chapel Hill Road/35 from 2011 to January 2014. I have a summary, from the Police Department, in PDF form that totals 86 accidents (sorry John Chapel Hill have to correct you- not 89) plus I am personally aware of 5 unreported accidents with deer and livestock. That is 91. So I do believe that my quote to the press of "almost 100" is very accurate. I do not know how the NJ Dept. of Transportation compiles their statistics but these are the facts from the Middletown Police Department. I have no personal issue with the school, other than the fact that I don't believe this to be a proper location for it. I am concerned about the safety of residents and the children that will be navigating this road. I will not resort to name-calling or engage in conversations that are not respectful. I would also like to state that I am brave enough to use my real name on this site and do not post comments, nasty or otherwise, under an alias. If you wish to discuss these points with me further, I would be happy to speak with you face-to-face at the next planning board meeting. Have a good evening everyone. -Jennifer Valencia
commonman February 23, 2014 at 08:22 PM
Much better Jennifer now if u could talk john down from mount Olympus u might be able to convince people to see things your way. Can't they just improve the street to make it safer ?
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 08:23 PM
I applaud you Jennifer Valencia. You obviously have accurate facts and your position is based on logic.
commonman February 23, 2014 at 08:29 PM
The king has spoken
John Chapel Hill February 23, 2014 at 09:28 PM
Chapel Hill Neighborhood Organization - What happened? Facts ruined your argument? Or, was my assumption about your identity correct? I assume you need to wake up early to assist 30 girls with a "Catholic-Like" education in a non-accredited school.
MaverickMom February 24, 2014 at 12:23 AM
was there a meeting last week?
Truth February 24, 2014 at 08:07 AM
First of all calling Trinity hall supporters stupid is out of line. Commonman the use of the d-word is really sad. Positions can be stated without insulting ANYONE. JCH and Jenn V the buyers remedy is a real possibility that you are ignoring. Are you willing to answer to all of your neighbors if buyers remedy goes into effect? You will be responsible for the building of low income housing which I am sure will lower home values in the area. If traffic and accidents have been such a problem, why hasn't the neighborhood lobbied to have it fixed? Why is this "traffic" issue being put on trinity hall? Where is the traffic data that is being referenced? Can a link to it be provided? If traffic is really a concern the area should be happy that Trinity Hall is willing to pay for the remedy out of their own pocket.
Truth February 24, 2014 at 08:56 AM
one more comment JCH as far as Trinity Hall being "accredited"... i think that school accreditation can be misleading. The new york "regents" diploma really does not me anything outside of NY State schools. Chaminade High School in NY (one of the most competitive) does not offer "regents", their program is a more rigorous one than the regents requirement. I am sure accreditation is also a process that takes time.
John Chapel Hill February 24, 2014 at 09:04 AM
I do somewhat apologize for some of my comments last night. I took commonman's insults to woman and CHNO's attack on Jennifer's credible statistics personally. Truth is that I have no issue with Trinity Hall. My issue is that I do not believe Trinity Hall should be developed at that site. My issue is also with people using scare tactics to get support. Our alternative is not 300 Townhouses or a rock quarry, which is what a Trinity Hall Support email is threatening. The fact is that that site is approved only for 19 2 acre single resident houses. I would prefer that land stay as it is because it adds to the neighborhood charm. However, I respect the rights of the owner and any buyer, as long as the predetermined zoning restrictions remain in-tact.
Truth February 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM
What should be a concern for all Middletown residents is that to the best of my knowledge Middletown has not reached its quota for low income/high density housing. Pair that with the fact that the buyers remedy application can be made at any time and it will circumvent any Middletown zoning restrictions. I understand the NIMBY, but the site will be developed. I think a school is a more attractive option. The more the school plan is fought, the more likely buyers remedy will become a reality and that is an UNATTRACTIVE option.
Truth February 24, 2014 at 01:45 PM
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/08/nj_approves_more_than_135m_for_affordable_housing_projects_in_sandy-struck_counties.html
MaverickMom February 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM
It's amazing that we have to have a quota for this
Tony Dimeglio March 06, 2014 at 07:05 PM
I have lived in Middletown since the early 1980s. i have brought up children and sent them to our schools. i am so disgusted by this group of NIMBYs claiming to be concerned about some fictitious bird that they care about or that Chapel Hill Rd is "dangerous" so we should not locate a school there. This is the latest group to discriminate against females and Catholics. I have seen this before and I am sure i will see it again. It just makes my skin crawl ..especially when almost every other area in NJ has this option for girls. This property will be developed. Please try and wrap your heads around this fact. Please.
John Chapel Hill March 06, 2014 at 08:08 PM
Tony. Thank you for that post. It was very insightful.
John Chapel Hill March 07, 2014 at 07:42 AM
Tony - I was being sarcastic. Your post was not insightful and really adds no value to the conversation. The fact that people oppose a school being built in an area that was not zoned to handle a school and on a road that can barely handle its existing traffic does not make them NIMBYs. I question how that “disgusts” you. Those are strong feelings. Also, wildlife, wetlands, and environmental preservation is not a fictitious issue. Claiming we are discriminating against females and Catholics is silly. This makes your “skin crawl?” This is not a Catholic school. Trinity being built elsewhere still gives an “option for girls.” And, maybe this property will be developed, however, it should be developed as it was zoned: 2 acre single family homes. Please try to wrap your head around these facts. Please!

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