Charter School Wins Approval For New Location

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Zoning Board of Adjustment chairman Robert Thomas said he was concerned about the size of the charter school’s proposed gymnasium.

One of the township’s two charter schools has received approval to move into a Pierce Street building.

The Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School, now located at 92 Cortylous Lane, will next year move into about 60,000 square feet in a building at 150 Pierce Street, at the intersection of Worlds Fair Drive.

The school received Zoning Board of Adjustment approval to renovate and move into the space at the board’s Nov. 12 meeting.

The school plans to expand its offerings to the 8th Grade next year, which is one reason why it needs the space, school principal Olguz Yildiz told the board.

The school is chartered for K-8 and now runs K-7 classes. The school’s student population is primarily comprised of Franklin Township residents, but they also have students from North Brunswick and South Brunswick, Yildiz said.

The school’s student population will top off at its maximum allowed of 396 students, Yildiz said.

The building will be shared with the distribution center of PharmScript, a pharmaceutical company. Both uses will have their own entrances and parking lots.

The charter school will use the entire second floor of the building, with 39 classrooms, and the cafeteria and a 10,000-square-foot gymnasium on the first floor.

The size of the gym caused board chairman Robert Thomas some concern. He was told that there were no plans to rent the gym out to outside organizations.

The school also agreed to a stipulation that it would hold no interscholastic athletic events at the property.

The potential need for extra parking for events such as Back to School Nights and conerts concerned Mark healy, the township’s principal planner. He expressed skepticism about the school’s plan to contract with a nearby business for overflow parking.

Healy said he did not know “how realistic” it would be to ask parents to park maybe a half-mile away from the school and ride a bus to the property.

“We’ll end up hearing about it if the parents park at the shopping center across the street and walk over,” he said. “I think that’s more realistic.”

Healy asked if the school could ask PharmScript to use one of its parking lots, to which school attorney Peter lanfrit answered that the school would do so.

Board vice chairman Laura Graumann said she wondered about the noise from the playground and soccer field, which is near some townhomes.

Healy said that the existing vegetation would not mitigate any noise, but, he said, the noise would be generated during the day.

“If someone in the townhomes are going to complain about noise at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m not sure there’s much we can do about that,” he said.

The only “no” vote for the application came from board member Anthony Caldwell, who said he was concerned about a pharmaceutical use being connected to a school.

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