Easement draws safety concerns from Milltown school, library officials

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By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

MILLTOWN — An easement allowing truck traffic to travel in and out of the Milltown Public Library’s driveway from the rear parking lot of a heating and air conditioning business that was approved by the Planning Board in June will now be in the hands of the Borough Council.

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The application by Hanna’s Mechanical Contractors Inc. has been met with safety concerns raised by library and school officials as well as Board of Education (BOE) and community members since its first hearing before the Planning Board last year.

BOE President William Petscavage read a letter that he wrote to the council at a council meeting on July 11.

“As it is the main priority of the BOE to advocate for the safety of our Milltown Public School students, please be advised that the BOE maintains that opening access to the library lot to commercial vehicles in relation to the request by Hanna Electrical during school hours poses an inherent risk to children,” Petscavage said.

He added that if the council approves the easement, the BOE would seek the council’s support in hiring or reassigning crossing guards to diligently monitor student and vehicle traffic in the library lot and at the new sidewalk connections in conjunction with the approval.

The issue was not ready for discussion at the meeting on July 11 and is expected to be discussed at the meeting on Aug. 8.

Mike Hanna, owner of Hanna’s Mechanical Contractors Inc., had previously told the Planning Board that he opened his business at 155 N. Main St. more than 10 years ago.

Due to the growth in business over the years, Hanna said he decided to purchase the former union hall property at 44 N. Main St. in hopes of moving his office operations to the larger location while still owning the current business location.

Hanna said his business is a privately owned and locally operated company that provides a full range of plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling services mostly for commercial businesses.

The two-story building is approximately 2,700 square feet. The first floor will be used for the warehouse of the business that will consist of shelving for the supplies. The second floor will be divided into four offices for Hanna, the engineer, a bookkeeper/accountant and a person to answer phones.

On June 6, the Planning Board voted in favor of Hanna’s application. The property has a narrow ingress and egress driveway on Main Street. The final approval for the easement for a curb cut for ingress and egress in the rear parking lot abutting the Milltown Public Library is up to the council.

The application calls for 10 parking spaces, which Hanna has said would adequately accommodate his employees. The required amount of spaces is 14.

Hanna said his business utilizes seven trucks that include Ford trucks and spring trucks, all under four tons. The streets in and around the Milltown Public Library and Joyce Kilmer School all have a four-ton truck limit.

He had said his employees will come to check in by 8:15 a.m. and will leave by 9 a.m. on different jobs and come back between 4:30-5 p.m.

Hanna has said his business does not receive a lot of deliveries unless it is packages from FedEx and UPS, and a bulk delivery would occur once every six months.

He said oftentimes he picks up his own materials, adding that the business is not a retail business with customers coming to the site.

The new Hanna property has been a cut-through for many schoolchildren and adults going to and from Joyce Kilmer School and the library.

With the Planning Board’s approval, Hanna will provide a sidewalk that will be well lit.

Petscavage and others shared concerns over the proposed sidewalk, which they said did not guarantee the safety of students entering and exiting the sidewalk.

Bonnie Sterling, director of the Milltown Public Library, has expressed her concerns with the council in letters stating that many of the library patrons are either very young or very old. During the day, the library holds four storytimes that attract children who range in age from 6 months to 5 years old.

A petition seeks placement of a public question on the November ballot for approval of an easement for a curb cut to enter and exit the rear parking lot of Hanna’s business. The petition garnered over 200 signatures and was given to the council to review.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@gmnews.com.

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