Traffic Impact Study Focus of Hekemian Hearing in New Milford
Hekemian's traffic expert returns to answer the public's questions regarding her previous testimony.
Hekemian's traffic expert, Elizabeth "Betsy" Dolan returned to the New Milford Zoning Board to answer questions regarding the testimony she gave on her revised traffic impact study. The study was prepared in support of the proposed development of the 13-acre United Water property--a mixed-use development that includes a 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket, a 4300 sq. ft. bank and a significantly pared down housing component--24 units down from an original 221 units.
The analysis —prepared by Dolan & Dean Consulting Engineers LLC of Martinsville —assesses the existing infrastructure in the vicinity of the site, identifies existing traffic patterns, and projects future traffic volumes. Also included is an assessment of future roadway and intersection conditions surrounding the site of the proposed development.
In her previous appearance before the Board in February, Dolan testified that the light on River Road and Madison Avenue would have a delayed green to accommodate the increased traffic generated on Madison Avenue by the new development.
Thursday, the public had the opportunity to cross-examine Dolan on that testimony, as well as the information put forth in the traffic impact study.
Over the objections of the applicant's attorney, Andy DelVecchio, that the questions were either repetitive or not relevant to Dolan's testimony, the questions posed by members of the public primarily centered on Dolan's traffic counts for peak hours and days, amount of traffic proposed to be generated by the new Shop Rite, and the routes of the trailer trucks.
Questioned was the October testimony given by Joseph Pagano, Director of Produce for Inserra Shop Rite, who testified that Tuesday's were the store's high volume days, whereas Dolan's study shows weekends as high generation traffic days.
"If there was a spike on one particular day, I did not pick it up," Dolan testified.
According to Dolan, the traffic estimates she relied upon in the preparation of her analysis were obtained through ITE's supermarket land use category, along with ITE's (Institute of Traffic Engineers) category for drive-thru banks and for apartments where estimates of trip generations for land uses the size and scope of the proposed development are available. Dolan said that she used the ITE's numbers because they are higher.
In addition to using those estimates, Dolan also studied current traffic patterns along River Road in the vicinity of the high school.
John DeSantis asked Dolan, "Don't you think it would be appropriate to study the entire length of River Road?"
Dolan replied that studying the entirety of River Road would not change the operational levels, stating that the further away from the proposed site, the lesser the traffic impact.
"We measured impact at the sites where the majority of the impact would be," Dolan said.
When the issue of the impact of the train on the increased traffic was raised, Dolan said that no traffic impact studies including the train were performed because the train is a "known factor" and will not alter the characteristic of the crossing.
Lori Barton asked Dolan if she had considered the additional traffic impact that the proposed sale of the synagogue on River Road to a Korean church would have on River Road, in addition to the traffic impact of the Gospel Fellowship Church which will be located on Henley, just off River Road.
Zoning Board attorney, Scott Sproviero, deemed that question speculative and outside of the scope of Dolan's testimony, since no application for the synagogue building has been submitted.
Members of the public also questioned Dolan about cars using side streets such as Demarest Ave. as cut-through streets in order to avoid the traffic on River Road. Dolan said that it would be easier to access the site by travelling on River Road rather than Demarest where cars would have to wait for a break in traffic in order to cross over.
When questioned about the route of the tractor trailer trucks coming to and from the site, Dolan testified that it was her understanding that the trucks would be travelling on Main Street and Kinderkamack Road. DelVecchio interjected, "Pagano only testified that trucks will use Kinderkamack."
Pedestrian safety around the area of the High School was a concern of the public, but Dolan said that the High School is an existing structure and the pedestrians are aware that cars are there.
At the close of the nearly four hour meeting, DelVecchio, whose objections to "repetitive" questions and "relevancy" of questions to Dolan's prior testimony, told the Board that they had to be more stringent in reigning in the questions.
Acknowledging this, Sproviero said that those issues will be addressed at the next Zoning Board meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12 at 7:30 pm. Hekemian is scheduled to be the first applicant heard that night.
Dolan will be returning to the Zoning Board for further questioning, but due to her schedule it is uncertain at this time if she will be available to attend the March 12 meeting.