A charter school's Zoning Board application to make a Central Avenue mansion its future home will not be heard until Oct. 5, due to a glitch uncovered Wednesday.
The Barack Obama Green Charter High School proposes to construct a two-story addition to property at 1038-1040 Central Avenue, currently owned by Malcolm Dunn, to house 240 students, 30 staff members and two administrators. The use is not permitted on the residential-zoned site. The school also seeks permission for five parking spaces in front of the building and 40 more leased from an adjacent art school. Variances are also needed for fences, signs and more.
The board decided Wednesday to hold the application and move the meeting to a larger venue, due to confusion caused by a meeting Monday between school representatives and neighbors of the proposed site. School co-founder and leader Steven King said Monday's meeting took place at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield and was called to "talk about the project and the school." Apparently attendees got the impression that the matter would not be heard Wednesday. Attorney Richard Angowski, who is representing the school in the Zoning Board case, denied any knowledge Monday's meeting.
The board had been prepared to hear the case and those who arrived early expecting a large crowd were the only members of the public to learn it will be held in October. Because proper notice had been given for Wednesday, no further notice is required. Part of the reason for not hearing it Wednesday was to accommodate interested parties who may have been misled.
The desire to reschedule resulted in a lengthy weighing of the choices. First, four dates in August were considered, but none accommodated board members as well Angowski's anticipated four expert witnesses. The board considered adding the application to the Sept. 7 regular meeting, but member Jim Spear suggested Oct. 5. Angowski alluded to "confidential matters between my client and the property owner" regarding the delay, but the board settled on 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Senior Center at 400 East Front Street.
Anyone interested in the case should mark their calendars now, as no further notice is required. Plaintalker will check for any updates on the date or venue.
The school is currently located downtown in the Union Building at Watchung Avenue and East Front Street. Before that, it occupied a former special school building on Berckman Street, and space at the Boys & Girls Club on West Seventh Street.