Zoners should reject Westerly Road plan


   After several interminable hearings, the Westerly Road Church project is scheduled to be discussed again on May 8. The board should reject this proposal, for a number of reasons.
   It is tragic that a historic property, located in a low-impact environmental protection zone and completely surrounded by preserved, open space land, should be converted into what is essentially a high-impact, very large parking lot. The proposed total parking area would include over 450 spaces, and cover a substantial portion of the property.
   The need for so much parking is questionable; the church’s parking analysis was disputed very effectively at the last hearing. The ratio of parking spaces to sanctuary seats is far higher than the township standard. The parking area would also encroach on the property boundaries: they request a 25-foot setback, while the standard is 50-feet. The runoff from a large, paved parking area will contain grease, oil, gasoline and antifreeze, which have potential to contaminate the surrounding open space, nearby wetlands and the ground water.
   The overall project requires many variances to be granted: use, building height, impervious surface ratio, setbacks, etc. It is clearly in conflict with the township master land-use plan, and the philosophy embodied in that plan. It changes the essentially rural nature of the north Lawrence area, and adds substantial traffic on one of the few days of the week when traffic is tolerable in this area. The township should stand by their master plan, or it will be meaningless.

R.G. Robinson
Cobblestone Way