We would like to remind residents of Maplewood and South Orange that the Shell station's proposal to add a 7-11 as a second use to their lot right across from Columbia High School will be considered at the April 4 meeting of the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment (in the Town Hall starting at 8 p.m.). Experts discussing the possible traffic impacts will be testifying and can be questioned by us. We also hope members of the public will have their chance to speak directly on this issue too.
Residents in the area near Columbia High School have worked proactively with the Township Committee, police, and high school administrators for several years now to improve safety in this part of the Maplewood, which serves the needs of more than 2,000 students, many of whom walk to school.
Aside from worries about the corner at Parker and Valley, where students frequently cross against green lights and out of the crosswalks, we are concerned that many drivers would avoid this corner by racing up side streets from Valley to make left turns onto Kensington. Many residents walk on these streets to get to the Maplewood train station, and many kids also use them to get to Clinton Elementary school and to Maplewood Middle School.
School buses make four stops in the Kensington neighborhood every day for students who attend the Seth Boyden Elementary School. The location of that bus stop has already been moved in order to increase the safety for students after a terrible car accident last year in which a driver ran a stop sign and the other driver was driving too fast to stop. That accident resulted in serious injury to a pedestrian. If you are concerned about congestion and the safety of students and drivers around our high school, next Monday is your chance to make your voice heard.
The burden is on the Shell station property owner to prove that making exceptions to our zoning to allow their 7-11 as a second use on a single lot would not cause significant harms to the neighborhood, the town, the school district, or any of the surrounding communities protected by the "Neighborhood Business" zone — harms such as more congestion, risk to pedestrians, and increased noise, trash, and light pollution.
The planner hired by the developers stated that the neighborhood will benefit from a 7-11, where you "can pick up a quick coffee or a pint of milk." But there are already several shops on Valley and in town offering such services. If you have an opinion on these issues, we urge you to come to the next meeting and make your views known!
Mike and Elizabeth Aaron
Steve and Arlene Klein
Robin and John Davenport