Proposed Kingston Yoga Studio Draws Opposition From Neighbors

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A proposal by the co-owner of a Kingston yoga studio to move her business into a residential zone has many of her prospective neighbors upset.

Residents whose homes abut the property at 24 Sycamore Place told the Zoning Board Feb. 5 they don’t want the noise from cars or the glare from the proposed parking lot’s lights in their homes.

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Nagisa Manabe of Bay Head wants to move her yoga studio into a residential area of Kingston. Neighbors are not happy.

Nagisa Manabe of Bay Head, co-owner of Simply Yoga in the Kingston Shopping Center on Route 27, said she and her partners want to move the yoga studio to the nearly 4-acre lot mainly because of noise generated by their neighbors in the shopping center.

Manabe said her current leased space is between a sushi restaurant and an equipment rental business, and both contribute to “distractions” while her students are practicing yoga.

“We’re hoping to relocate to a place that will give our students a better, more peaceful experience,” she said.

Manabe, who is also the chief marketing and sales officer for the U.S. Postal System in Washington. D.C., said she and her husband, who teaches at Rutgers University, also want to build a home on the property. The home would be built behind the studio.

Manabe said she and her husband live in Bay Head, and she sometimes stays with her parents in Princeton after classes, rather than commute back to Bay Head.

Manabe said the studio offers 90-minute classes seven days a week, in the mornings and evenings. She said classes generally average 11 or 12 students, but that number can increase on weekends. The studio’s design could accommodate up to 34 students, but, Manabe said, that would be a “tight fit.”

The new location would include a 22-car parking lot, which caught the attention of township planner Mark Healy.

Healy said the potential of Manabe having more than 30 students, combined with a 20-space parking lot caused him concern.

“I’m seeing a parking problem,” he said.

Healy said the studio’s current location in a shopping center would mask that problem because the abundance of parking spaces.

Manabe said there is a 15 minute gap between classes, and students do not linger after class.

A parking problem “is theoretically possible, but it’s never happened in the 17 years we’ve had the studio,” she said.

Still, Healy said, “I’m hearing more use in the building than can be accommodated in the parking lot.”

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Opponents and supporters of the Simply Yoga studio showed up at the Feb. 5 Zoning Board meeting.

The meeting was attended by a number of area residents as well as a number of yoga studio supporters.

Laurel Avenue resident Meredith Rogers asked Manabe why she didn’t consider another location on Route 27, in a business district.

Manabe said she did, but one building cost more than $1 million.

“This is a pretty modest business, it’s not intended to make a lot of money,” she said.

“So you thought going into a residential zone was a good idea,” Rogers said.

Project engineer F. Mitchell Ardman said a 6-foot fence will rebuilt along the property line shared with other homes, and that trees will also be planted to help shield any noise from the parking lot.

The driveway, from Sycamore Place, is designed to be 22 feet wide, but Ardman said the applicant would agree to narrowing it to about 20 feet to be more in keeping with the neighborhood but still retain its safety.

Lighting would be provided by lights on 12-foot-tall poles, but the LED bulbs would be recessed so they would not shine in neighbors’ homes, he said.

“You will not see the light source itself,” he said.

The board will continue hearing the application at its March 5 meeting.



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