Planning Board Approves Site Plan for Coptic Orthodox Church Amid Traffic and Parking Concerns

The Old Bridge Township Planning Board has approved the major preliminary and final site plan for St. Mary and Archangel Raphael Coptic Orthodox Church, following a discussion on traffic and parking implications. The unanimous decision was made under several conditions, including a limitation on the number of worshippers, the conducting of a traffic count after three months, and obtaining a letter of no interest from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The approval is temporary, with a proposed extension to 24 months, as the church awaits completion of their new location.

Delving into the details, the Board’s decision centered on the church’s request to temporarily utilize a gymnasium on the property for services on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. The board, including members such as Dean Marucci and Barbara Cannon, expressed concerns about the potential traffic increase, especially on the heavily traveled Route 34. Highlighting these worries, Marucci suggested a 12-month temporary approval to monitor the situation and a traffic study after three months of operation.

Further examination was given to the adequacy of the parking spaces available for the proposed house of worship. The applicant agreed to limit the occupancy to 150 worshippers, in line with the requirement for 50 parking spaces. The Board also discussed the absence of proposed alterations to the site and the lack of need for signage, signaling the temporary nature of the proposal.

Besides traffic and parking, the board also carefully considered the church’s operational hours, particularly on holidays. The application proposed using the gymnasium for prayer and liturgy, with a stipulation that the facility would not be used for worship once a new site on Old Road and Hardle Road is constructed. Concerns about fire safety compliance and the process for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy were also discussed.

The board’s professionals raised concerns about fire safety and traffic counts, recommending a condition for the temporary use of the facility to be discontinued once the new site is operational. A discussion ensued about the timeframe for discontinuing the use, with a suggestion to extend it to 24 months instead of 12, considering the construction timeline and investment in the new site.

The meeting also saw the approval of Resolution 44-22 for PBOE Route 9 Land LLC’s amended preliminary and final major site plan, as well as an amendment of Chapter 250 of the Old Bridge Township Land Development Ordinance. The amendment focused on recommendations related to waiving fees for nonprofit organizations and adjusting site plan and subdivision plan fees.

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.

Mayor Owen Henry
Planning Board Officials:
Dean Marucci, Barbara Cannon, Kasey Lenning, Stephen Mamakas, Councilman Erik DePalma, Edward Lauer, Daniel Joseph Renna, Joseph Pedi, Tina Masella, Keith McIsaac, James Brennan, Daniel Holihan (Vice Secretary), Joseph Sordillo (Attorney)

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