CEREBRAL PALSY CENTER CANCELS BUILDING PLAN
The Neighbor News - 4/18/2018
A plan to build a 17,300-square-foot center for adults with disabilities amid modestly sized homes on Meadow Road in Wayne has been withdrawn in the face of heavy opposition from neighbors.
Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, based in Livingston, needed a use variance from the township Zoning Board of Adjustment to construct the one-story center on a 1.9-acre wooded tract in a residential zone, located where Meadow Road meets Route 23 south.
The organization, which also serves infants and children with developmental disabilities, had sought to move its adult center from an industrial park on Hamburg Turnpike - one of 19 facilities it operates - to a more peaceful setting.
The plan would have required the organization to demolish a home at 9 Meadow Road to make way for a parking lot with 65 spots.
The zoning board on Monday was scheduled to hear cross-examination of the organization's traffic engineer. But on Thursday the board received a letter from the applicant's attorney, David Dixon, who said his client wished to withdraw its plan.
The letter did not give a reason for the withdrawal, and neither Dixon nor Purna Rodman Conare, the organization's president and chief executive officer, returned calls for comment.
The decision to pull the application from the zoning board's agenda was welcomed by neighbors of the subject property, including one who described the organization's plan as trying to fit a "whale on a postage stamp."
The center would have been "a square peg in a round hole," added another neighbor, Arlene Sullivan, whose property would have abutted it.
Sullivan, who raised money through an online fundraiser for a legal defense against the project, said the plan was fraught with problems.
"We're relieved because it would've done irreparable harm to the neighborhood," she said. "Their reasoning for coming to our neighborhood was they wanted to be in a residential area, but everything that made it residential they were going to destroy."
Sullivan said she and her neighbors were particularly concerned about the potential loss of trees, which provide a buffer and sound barrier between their properties and the highway, and the queuing of the organization's diesel-powered vans in front of their homes.
"From the very beginning, it never fit," she said about the organization's choice to move to a residential zone. "It's not safe - it's just not a safe spot."
Maureen Allex, who lives on Edgemont Crescent, a dead-end perpendicular to Meadow Road, agreed.
"I think it was profoundly disproportionate as a design to the property at hand," said Allex, whose grandparents settled in the neighborhood more than a century ago. "The programming serving people with cerebral palsy is very important," she added, noting that she is a nurse, "but it needs to be in a setting that's appropriate."
Besides the use variance, the organization needed relief from the zoning code for impervious coverage and signage.