Montclair Zoning Board Reviews Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Expansion Plans Amid Concerns Over Traffic and Aesthetics

The Montclair Town Zoning Board’s recent meeting centered around the Montclair Kimberley Academy’s (MKA) proposed expansion plans, with a particular focus on potential traffic and parking issues, architectural consistency with the neighborhood, and the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The school’s representatives presented comprehensive plans for the proposed 8,850 square foot addition to an existing building and a new driveway on the south side of the property.

The MKA’s expansion aims to meet the rising demand for STEM classes and extracurricular activities, which necessitates dedicated science labs and classrooms. The board, composed of members including William Harrison, John McCullough, Jonathan Moore, and others, expressed concerns about the potential impact of the expansion on traffic and existing conditions set by previous resolutions. These concerns led to a debate regarding the need for a traffic survey, the calculation of parking spaces, and the maximum student population allowed by previous resolutions.

The school, however, clarified that the parking issue is largely manageable except during larger community events. It was pointed out that only seniors are allowed to park on campus, with a peak number of 115 seniors driving to the school. The school also demonstrated a willingness to work with the community by offering access to their facilities for STEM programs beyond their student body.

Another point of concern was architectural consistency with the surrounding neighborhood. Robert Douglas, a registered architect affiliated with the project, presented the architectural plans which included use of consistent materials with existing buildings, sun shades and light shelves for improved lighting, and attention to accessibility needs. This led to discussions on the proposed railing and access to the lower area of the building, the placement of shrubbery and fencing, and the design and material of the proposed split rail fence.

Environmental sustainability also featured prominently in the meeting. The proposed plans aim to meet LEED standards for energy efficiency, and the project’s stormwater management system is designed to meet state rules. Further, the board sought details about the sustainability elements of the proposed plan, including the installation of solar panels, and compliance with fire safety regulations.

The board also paid particular attention to safety measures for the new proposed building. Questions were raised about the height and design of railings on the roof to prevent student access to unsafe areas. The potential impact of LED lighting on neighboring properties was also discussed, as well as the landscaping plan and the removal and addition of trees.

Did we get something wrong? Let us know.
Sean Spiller
Zoning Board Officials:
William Harrison, John McCullough, Jonathan Moore, Jay Church, Jerry Simon, Angela Harris, John Caulfield, F. Sebastian Vieira, Zoe Martineau, Janice Talley (Secretary), Richard Charreun (Assistant Secretary), Michael Sullivan (Board Attorney), Marisa Tiberi (Board Engineer)

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