Lakewood, NJ – For the second time since 2006, Georgian Court University finds itself at odds with the township’s Planning Board over the school’s growth plans.
Georgian Court University failed to win approval to expand on the school’s 156 acres under a 20-year general development plan that would accommodate new classrooms, dorms, parking and sports fields.
Georgian Court, the second-largest employer in the township, fought a similar battle – losing before the Planning Board and winning in appeals court – in 2006 when the Planning Board denied the university’s efforts to build the Wellness Center, the university’s eco-friendly athletics and academic building.
Testimony from experts and residents opposed to or in favor of the plan spanned months. The hearing ended in a tie vote Dec. 21. A tie vote means the board failed to approve the plan, said Planning Board Attorney John J. Jackson. A resolution to deny the application is scheduled for today’s Planning Board meeting.
“We have a long and wonderful tradition as a Catholic university,” said Sister Rosemary E. Jeffries, Georgian Court University president. Today, though the university has state-of-the-art classrooms, it needs to keep up with changing technology and demands, Jeffries said.
“With planned growth, we are consistent with the mission to be a resource in the region and have the appropriate facilities to accommodate new technologies,” Jeffries said. “We need new academic space to accommodate learning that was not thought of” when the current structures were built.
A general development plan enables a long-term planning applicant to lock in a general concept and protect against zoning changes for the concept period, said John J. Jackson, the Township Planning Board attorney.
Jackson said he could not speak to the specifics of the Georgian Court application because it is an ongoing matter.
The university is in a township-designated emergency evacuation area. If it has just one entrance and that entrance is blocked, it could cause safety and security problems, experts testified before the Planning Board.
Read more at APP.