Video: Tempers flare at Morristown daycare hearing

Daycare centers are not child’s play in Morristown.

Engineer Matt Clarke and attorney John Horan, representing a  Learning Experience daycare center proposed for Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Engineer Matt Clarke and attorney John Horan, representing a Learning Experience daycare center proposed for Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Residents came out in droves earlier this year to shoot down a center proposed for Turtle Road.

And they packed a zoning board meeting on Wednesday to register objections to another one, a Learning Experience franchise pitched for Madison Avenue at Normandy Parkway.

Near midnight, after three hours of eye-glazing testimony about security lighting and train decibels, traffic islands and parking spaces,  tree inventories and fence heights, and “pervious” vs. impervious coverage, sparks flew when resident Steve Miller pointedly asked project engineering consultant Matt Clarke where he parked during site visits.

Board Chairman Cary Lloyd and board Attorney David Brady ruled the question irrelevant. Our video clip shows what happened next.

Applicants intent on erecting a 175-child daycare center in Morristown listen at zoning board hearing. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Applicants intent on erecting a 175-child daycare center in Morristown listen at zoning board hearing. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

A third hearing, scheduled for Sept. 10, 2014, promises more fireworks when the project’s traffic consultant testifies.

Residents near the site say proposed driveways will exacerbate hazardous traffic situations at the Madison/Normandy intersection.

The board asked the developers for additional information about lighting of the proposed 10,000-square-foot building, along with details about any state decibel limits for children (NJ Transit trains run behind the site).

Samantha Rothman of the Morristown Shade Tree Commission takes her turn at the microphone. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Resident Samantha Rothman  takes her turn at the microphone. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Members also sought more information about tree removal plans–at least 145 trees are on the chopping block on the one-acre site, one of Morristown’s last undeveloped parcels.

The applicant, 170 Madison Ave. LLC, seeks a use variance to allow the commercial venture onto a parcel zoned for housing.  The heavily wooded site adjoins the Twombly Court neighborhood.

 

 

Morristown zoning board Attorney David Brady sifts mountains of paperwork from a proposed daycare center. Board Chairman Cary Lloyd sits to his right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown zoning board Attorney David Brady sifts mountains of paperwork from a proposed daycare center. Board Chairman Cary Lloyd sits to his right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 



Comments

  1. Charles Gaffen says:

    Another very important note is that the parcel is the home of two wells that are part of Morristown Hospital’s water supply.

  2. Cynthia Beagles says:

    It does not make sense that an entity supposedly dedicated to the health and well-being of children would make a conscious decision to place its facility on a small parcel of land situated between a busy roadway (that is notorious for traffic and accidents) on one side and a railroad track on the other. Does the entity really care about children? Or is it more concerned with profit? And is that what we want to support? If not, we should attend the next meeting on September 10.

  3. Too bad this gentleman’s question wasn’t answered. The site engineer testified he’s never been on Washington Ave. but he’s visited the site about 5 times. So – where did he park? He couldn’t have parked on Washington Ave or his previous testimony would be false. You can’t park on Normandy, because that’s illegal. So the other two choices are either the condos next door or Friendly’s – either one is trespass. So – WHERE DID HE PARK?

    AND – folks were only allowed to make comments related to the SITE not to traffic in general. Seems that the number of parking spaces on SITE is an issue that the SITE engineer should know a bit about.

    I’ve been to A LOT of these hearings. This is one of the poorest plans I’ve ever seen. It’s like they are making NO effort for a quality project.

  4. What is zoning for? It’s as if buying a home in Morristown in a residential neighborhood guarantees nothing. The area in question is an intact neighborhood that now is in danger of being encroached upon by a commercial enterprise that may be just a foot-in -the-door for future zoning variances. It’s a bad idea for the residents and a bad location for a day care center.

    Mr Miller’s question was clearly relevant and Mr Lloyd’s refusal to allow it, and the arrogant way it was dealt with, leaves one feeling rather uncomfortable in regard to the board’s impartiality .

    Also, isn’t there a tree commission in Morristown? I pass the area in question several times a week, and it holds a variety of lovely old trees, something fast becoming a rarity in Morristown.
    Clearly this proposal for a day care center is just wrong and should not be permitted–it’s another case of “pave paradise, put up a parking lot.”

  5. Children First says:

    We welcome the proposed endeavor for this Morristown parcel to finally come alive and become useful for the Children.
    We highly doubt that any traffic generated from this newly usable location would be noticed.
    The arguments already heard against the endeavor are moot.
    The location is ideal, safe and fits in well with its surroundings.
    Again, we welcome this and know that all involved with this project will hold Morristown values in great respective.

  6. Sam Samman says:

    Local residents really need to consider what the development of another condominium, which is the currently approved use on that parcel, would mean to them versus a childcare facility. Residents have expressed concerns about lighting at night, tree removal, site drainage and traffic. A day car facility which closes at 6pm weekly and turns parking lot lights out at 7pm and is closed on weekends offers no night lighting disturbance whereas a condo development which keeps its parking lot lights on through the night will. Not to mention car headlights shining in the neighbors windows as new condo residents come home at all ours of the night. If privacy for nearby residents is an issue, remember that a day care center is closed on the weekend and nights when you arrive home from work whereas, a condominium built 10 feet from the property line means someone staring across at you from their deck to your deck as you share a cup of coffee in your pajamas Saturday morning. The daycare is a single story structure with windows hidden behind a 6′ fence offering neighbors complete privacy. A condominium, 10′ from the property line would be three stories tall and only 18′ feet from adjacent buildings on Twombly Court with windows peering into 2nd and third story windows of nearby Twombly neighbors. As for trees and drainage, this is a non-issue because a condo project would require the same amount of tree removal and site drainage if not more. As for traffic, the traffic report to be presented tomorrow night will clearly show that 175 cars provide no impact to a road like Madison ave that sees over 50,000 cars daily. This is private property folks, not park land where you can walk your dog and let your children play. It serves the community better as a daycare from both a social and financial perspective. This lot has been paying about $5k in taxes for over 25 years whereas its assessment as a childcare facility would be in excess of $35k/year. Lastly, Morristown’s walkability is one of its characteristics which make it a great place to live, as written in the Masterplan. I feel that local residents, which I am one of, really need to do weigh the pros/cons of a condo versus childcare and not as undeveloped land versus childcare.

  7. Kevin Coughlin says:

    A spokeswoman for Morristown Medical Center, Margaret Goldberg, contacted Morristown Green to respond to a reader’s comment here. The parcel being discussed does NOT have wells that serve the hospital, the spokeswoman said.

  8. Hey Sam – Can you let me know when and where I can pick up my check for my portion of the $30k in increased revenue?

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