Bernards Zoning Board Grapples With Traffic Concerns Over Proposed Development

In a recent Bernards Zoning Board meeting, the predominant focus revolved around the traffic implications of a proposed development by Signature Acquisitions LLC on Allen Road. The board scrutinized the traffic impact study, particularly the projected increase in truck traffic and its subsequent effects on road safety, especially in proximity to residential areas and a large elementary school. Residents expressed concerns over truck traffic, diesel emissions, and the potential disruption to the community’s peace and safety. Discussions were further enriched with debates over the project’s alignment with the New Jersey State Planning Commission Office of Planning Advocacy’s guidelines, the definition of light manufacturing as per the township’s zoning code, and the adequacy of parking spaces for the proposed use.

During the meeting, the Zoning Board examined the comprehensive traffic analysis provided by the traffic expert representing Signature Acquisitions, Mr. Seckler. His report detailed the effects of the proposed development on the surrounding intersections, accounting for vehicle delays and levels of service projected for 2026. It was noted that the previous use of the 150 Allen Road site as an office building, which is now vacant, was not included in the current traffic generation analysis. The board and public raised questions about the increase in heavy vehicle traffic, with an estimated 89 total daily truck trips and a focus on the six truck trips during the morning and evening peak hours.

A significant portion of the discussion addressed the safety concerns related to heavy vehicle traffic. The board members interrogated the traffic engineer about the dangers posed by collisions involving heavy-duty trucks, the types of heavy vehicles expected, their potential routes, and the absence of specific data on heavy vehicle traffic during non-peak hours. The engineer conceded the limitations of the analysis in this regard, recognizing the complexities in accurately predicting and assessing traffic patterns and volumes.

Residents Paul Edwards and Deborah Penner Smith voiced their apprehensions about the anticipated 89% increase in truck trips and the associated risks, particularly near the elementary school and residential neighborhoods. In response, board planner David L. Schley clarified the methodology of the traffic counts, indicating that the study area did not include the specific area near the school, and highlighted the planned pre-construction meeting to determine the route for construction traffic. The board attorney, Steven K. Warner, emphasized the commitment of the applicant to adhere to anti-idling procedures to mitigate diesel pollution.

Questions also arose about the definition of the proposed project’s use and its compliance with the township’s zoning ordinance. The traffic study had assumed a combination of light manufacturing and office use, without specifically addressing warehousing as a separate component. The board probed the traffic engineer on the modifications needed for the site driveway due to the change from office to light manufacturing use and the potential impact of truck movements on the internal site design.

Additionally, the board members engaged in a detailed exchange with the applicant’s representative regarding the design of the site and the potential for trucks entering oncoming traffic lanes. The traffic analysis had assumed manufacturing use and incorporated the processing of raw materials, with specific attention given to the changes in traffic configuration by the county, impacting the driveway design on Allen Road.

The public comment session further highlighted the community’s concerns. A resident inquired about the safety of trucks exiting the facility onto a curved road, especially during inclement weather. The engineer addressed the calculations for stopping sight distance and the impact of weather on truck reaction time. The potential for out-of-town truck drivers to cause accidents due to GPS navigation was also debated, with the resident questioning the accuracy of the traffic study in anticipating the traffic impact of the facility’s future tenants.

As the meeting progressed, the Zoning Board reiterated its dedication to addressing community concerns, with the possibility of scheduling special meetings to expedite the decision-making process, provided that the applicant would cover the additional costs. The next scheduled meeting on March 14th is expected to continue the discussion on the traffic impact of the development, with an emphasis on the feedback from the community and board members.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Jennifer Asay
Zoning Board Officials:
Jeanmarie Genirs, David Tancredi, Beth Pochtar, Lisamarie Baumann, Carl Cambria, Karl Kraus, Joe Pavlosky, Francis Helverson, Jaime B. Herrera, Steven K. Warner (Board Attorney), Thomas J. Quinn (Board Engineer), David L. Schley (Board Planner), Cyndi Kiefer (Board Secretary)

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