Letters to the Editor

Oratory’s Proposed Construction Project Not in Line with City's Master Plan Goals


I live in the neighborhood of Oratory Prep School in Summit.  Oratory has proposed a 48,000 sq. ft. facility and parking lot to be built in place of the historic home and existing tennis courts on the Bedford Road side of their property, which will cover most of that section of property.  The remainder of the property is largely an artificial turf field and an existing school building.

In 2000 and then again in 2006, the Summit Planning Board adopted a Master Plan (MP) for Summit to provide guidelines for future development in Summit.  Below are 4 reasons why the proposed project for Oratory does not meet the goals set out in the Master Plan: 

1.     The behemoth structure is too large and out of scale with the existing neighborhood structures.  (MP Page II-20 “preserving existing residential neighborhoods from incompatible development”.)

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2.     The proposed demolition of the 1889 built Tudor-style home, Avebury House, should not be allowed.  This stately, historic house should be preserved.  (MP Page I-5, To recognize and preserve the historic character of the City; To explore incentives to encourage the maintenance and facade restoration of historically notable buildings; To encourage the preservation of historic buildings and landmarks that are significant to Summit’s past.)  The Historic Society of Summit supports preserving this piece of Summit history.    http://thealternativepress.com/articles/proposed-demolition-of-avebury-located-at-14-be

3.     The project calls for the extensive disturbance of a steep slope that should be preserved in this swampy area that abuts Canoe Brook Parkway to prevent drainage issues for neighborhood residents.  (MP Page VI-2 the Conservation Plan says that the purpose of the steep slope ordinance is “to provide for reasonable control of development within the steep slopes area of the City in order to minimize the adverse impact caused by development of such areas”.)

4.     Traffic during school mornings on the short stretch of Morris Avenue between Kent Place and Washington School is already challenging for residents, commuters, and students trying to get to area schools. The proposed facility to be built has the capacity for 500 students.  That represents an additional 180 students plus the faculty needed to support them from the current level of 320 students. In 2000, when the MP was written, Oratory had 219 students and “no plans for expansion” (MP, Page IV-11 and Page II-23, “The need for adequate and safe traffic circulation both on-site and off-site should be addressed.).

I hope the Planning Board considers their adopted Master Plan and rejects the Oratory application for the above reasons.  

You can review the Master Plan at:  http://www.cityofsummit.org/filestorage/8242/8302/10255/8794/8816/SummitMasterPlan2000.pdf.

Karen Haines,

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