Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Charter School Seeks South Avenue Site

A city charter school is seeking approvals from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to convert a vacant South Avenue commercial building to school use.

The application is on the agenda for tonight's meeting, 7 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. Friends of Central Jersey Arts Charter School is applying to convert two buildings on a lot at 1225 South Avenue and also to use a nearby lot for 71 parking spaces. The buildings would be converted to classrooms, performance areas and a gymnasium serving 405 students in grades K-8. Sixty-three staff members would use the parking lot. The properties are in a Neighborhood Commercial zone and schools are not a permitted use, nor is parking a permitted principal use.

According to information on file in the Planning Division, the building and the lot are on either side of a KFC restaurant.

To learn more about Central Jersey Arts Charter School, click here.

Charter schools are public schools funded by taxes. The funding comes through the school district, but the charter schools report directly to the state Department of Education. For the 2009-10 school year, $11,418,060 was budgeted for charter schools in Plainfield.

Plaintalker will be posting more later on charter schools. This post is basically a heads-up for those who might want to follow this application. Please be aware there are several other applications on the agenda and this one may be carried to a future meeting date. The board is also slated to discuss "inherently beneficial uses" legislation. State law considers schools to be inherently beneficial uses, but in Plainfield, school use is prohibited in any zone, according to Planning Division notes on the application.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no argument with this or any other charter school, but isn't this parcel, the former ARC building adjacent to GO Kellers, the key property in the proposed "transit village" at Netherwood Station? Would school zoning approval mean the abandonment of that idea? Or is it already dead? And if dead, why are we continually talking about it as though it's the development messiah?

My guess is that the South Avenue fast food joints: Subway, KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, White Castle, Wendys, Dairy Queen and Italian Village will love the idea of many minivan pick ups in the afternoon; so too might the new C-Town. But taxpayers? Not so much, because it means the indefinite removal of these properties from the tax rolls as well as the deletion of a plum development parcel.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the Master Plan? What is slated for this property and can we afford to have this school on it. I agree with 8:29am - this is prime property.

Who is responsible for the Master Plan and ensuring that is it adhered to?

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Plainfield, its what we do with key properties. Take them off the tax rolls.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bernice,

I attended the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting last night. The applicant was able to start their
presentation but ran out of time at about 11:30pm. The testimony will continue to another night.

There will be a special meeting of the ZBA during the week of March 22. Exact date, time and location still to be determined. This special meeting was set up for a different applicant and this one will 'piggy-back' onto the agenda for that night.

The meeting was standing room only. It appeared
that the room was 'packed' with many parents and
students. But as you know these meetings can
continue late and the room cleared out before the
testimony began.

The applicant came very well armed: lawyers, engineers, architects, traffic specialists, planners, and their own court stenographer.

The traffic discussion brought on the biggest uproar from the board. The school could handle up to 405 students which equates to 16 plus buses entering and exiting Leland and South twice a day. Add an additional 63 staff members plus visitors, parents, vendors and this has the potential of becoming a traffic nightmare twice each day.

I don't feel that a different commerical/retail use of these properties would create such problems as the increased traffic would be spread out over the course of a day.

As a neighbor in the area I would love to see those parcels improved. But I must agree with all the previous comments, this is not the place.

jim spear

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many of you who are opposed to this property being used as a school, not because of your taxes or because you think it may cause a traffic jam twice a day or because of some personal agenda you may have as a so called concerned resident of Plainfield. You are not looking at the bigger picture here. Which is the education of our kids and their future. They will be the ones to make decisions for us and will be the ones running Plainfield. Or will they not be the ones because of all the negative air some of you are letting out of those tires beneath you. Take into consideration what has been going on in the public schools and how beneficial having this Charter school that has made a difference and will continue to make a difference in our kids lives that will leave a positive impact on their future to stay, live, work and hopefully open up their own businesses in Plainfield. So before you guys go knocking something down before it even gets off the ground. Think about your foundation and how stable it is NOT for you to think this way.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The test scores are not very encouraging and unless you believe that a bigger building will improve these test scores then we are hard pressed to believe that we are educating leaders and business owners here. Perhaps the focus should be on working a little harder on actually getting these children to the point where they can compete!!!

11:28 PM  

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