By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The application for the College Achieve Asbury Park Charter School has been carried to the zoning board’s Dec.12 meeting.
The school which has already opened at 700 Grand Ave. is ready to move students to its second location in the First Baptist Church at Third and Grand avenues pending the board’s vote.
The application requires a use variance for the site to operate as a school.
Although testimony was given and witnesses were cross examined, the board wanted to hear from an Asbury Park police officer regarding the embarking and disembarking of students to and from school buses at the beginning and end of each day and the effects that will have on parking in the residential area. The board is also concerned about general traffic and the safety of those using the bicycle lane on Grand Avenue, currently the only bike lane in the city.
Attorney Andrew Karas, representing the charter school, had said that an officer would be there to testify, but zoning board officer, Barbara Van Wagoner said the officer expected to testify was not available for the meeting.
Zoning Board Chair Christopher Avallone as well as other board members said they wanted to hear from the police department before casting their vote.
Board Attorney Jack Serpico advised the board that there are nine other applications ready to be heard, but which had been put off due to the extensive testimony regarding the charter school.
He told the board they need to begin hearing those applications and provide a limit of one hour at each meeting until a
The school first submitted its application in June and all meetings since then have focused on that application.
Also at issue is a possible amendment to the application by Karas regarding the pre existing use of the church as a school, during the 1990s when the Shore Christian Academy was located there.
A resident who lives next door to the church, Sharon Krengel, opposes the school opening inside the church and is being represented by her husband, Attorney Charles Liebman at the meetings.
She testified Tuesday that she objects on the grounds that the neighborhood is changing and becoming more residential and having a school located there would be a nuisance.
She cited the bus noise and pollution, lack of parking for residents and the general disturbance that a school could create.
Many years ago Krengel’s house was the location of her father’s medical practice.
She said there used to be many professional offices on Grand Avenue, but that is no longer the case.
“The neighborhood has changed a lot,” she said.
Karas questioned Krengel about her past professional experience as a board member in Highland Park when she advocated to change the funding laws regarding charter schools.
Krengel also testified that she works for the non-profit, Educational Law Center in Newark, but that her work does not address public charter schools.
Former Asbury Park zoning officer David Roberts, who worked for the city from 1985 to 1995, testified for Krengel and said he was not involved with the Shore Christian Academy and only knew of it in passing.
“I would only get involved if there was a violation,” he said
He also said the site is becoming more residential and although there are three schools operating at the opposite end of Grand Avenue near the downtown, the north end of Grand is “less mixed” regarding use of property.
He and Krengel both expressed concern about increasing future enrollment at the site as well.
The application calls for a maximum enrollment of 210 students in this school year, but there are plans to add additional grades each year.
Owner of the charter school, Michael Piscal, has said in the past he plans to look for a permanent site for the school where all students will attend in one location.