By KENNY WALTER
LONG BRANCH — The developers who hope to convert the former Church Street School into 16 apartment units believe that the project would not have a negative impact on traffic or parking in the neighborhood.
Traffic engineer John Rae, representing Jemal’s Church Street School, LLC, said during the Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing on March 14 that the proposal would produce less traffic than the previous use and the same as one of the usages that the property is currently zoned for.
“Our traffic generated was significantly less than the previous use, which was a school,” Rae said. “I compared the apartment trip generation to six single-family homes, which is permitted use in the zone, and what I concluded was that our trip generation from the apartments was going to be the same as the six single-family homes.”
The proposal includes converting the former school building into 14 two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom apartments with 35 parking stalls on-site. Under the proposal, Rae said he expects to eliminate two street parking spaces on White Street and two or three spaces on Church Street.
Rae also said it is uncertain whether the development would include assigned parking spaces for tenants.
“What is typically done in a case like this is one, parking space will be assigned for each unit, and there is a shared pool for other residents and visitors,” Rae said. “That’s typically what’s done, I’m not sure that’s exactly how it would be done.”
Since previous hearings held in November and January, the developer made changes to the site plan, including relocating the transformer to the southeast part of the property and changing the landscaping and walkways.
Several neighbors have concerns over the project, including noise, traffic and stormwater runoff. During the most recent meeting, residents expressed concern over losing street parking spaces and forcing families attending church to park on the busy Atlantic Avenue.
A letter from Fred Migliaccio, director of the Department of Public Works, was read into the record. Migliaccio said the applicant’s truck-turning radius plan was insufficient for the city’s garbage trucks.
“I have reviewed the plan for the Church Street School project and found that the refuse truck-turning plan is incorrect,” the letter read. “The plan submitted by Kennedy Consulting Engineers does not reflect the actual size of our trucks.
“Until this is satisfied to our approval, we will not be able to service this facility and they will be forced to use a private firm at their own expense.”
However, Rae said the truck-turning radius would be sufficient for the private company the developer is using.
In 2014, the Long Branch Board of Education reached an agreement with Jemal’s Church Street School, LLC, for the acquisition of the school building for $550,000.
The 16,634-square-foot Church Street School, which dates to the 1890s, is a two-story building that sits on a 1.45-acre site in the city’s R-3 residential zone, and the developer would need a use variance.
According to district Business Administrator Peter Genovese, the Church Street School was one of the district’s original school buildings and hasn’t been in use for at least 20 years.
Also known as the North Long Branch School-Primary No. 3, the Church Street School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Developer Douglas Jemal also purchased two of the three historic buildings of the former Takanassee Beach Club and relocated the structures, moving them to his Ocean Avenue home in 2012, just months before the third building was wiped out by superstorm Sandy.