Greenwich Academy, a local all-girls private school, has submitted an application to the Greenwich Planning & Zoning Dept for a Final Site Plan and Special Permit to raise their enrollment cap from from 730 to 780 students (plus a 2% variance).
The current enrollment cap stems back to August 2000.
The proposal was anticipated by P&Z, given that last May the school went before the commission to talk about their effort to encourage more students to ride a bus to school with an eye to sustainability, but also with the goal of reducing trips to and from the school – in turn reducing traffic and ultimately clearing the way to return to P&Z to request an enrollment cap increase of 100.
Now that the application has been submitted to P&Z, the request is for an increase in just 50 students, which they say is justified to reflect the decrease in traffic from the increase in bus ridership.
“As you know from Greenwich Academy’s prior appearances before the commission in the context of a pre-application, the Academy introduced a significantly expanded shuttle bus program this fall semester to service students in the Greenwich area and to augment the existing shuttle bus program,” wrote attorney attorney Chip Haslun representing the private girls school to P&Z director Patrick LaRow earlier this month.
Haslun said the goal had been to maximize potential benefits to traffic flow on campus and the surrounding neighborhood.
He said in addition to a decrease in the number of trips during the busiest morning hour from the expanded shuttle bus service, 7th and 8th grade student drop off had been shifted to the Lower School driveway, thereby improving operating conditions on North Maple Ave.
Haslun said in his letter that traffic engineering consultants, Kimley Horn, had been actively monitoring the program this fall.
At the May P&Z meeting, during the public hearing, Barnett Osman said he lived directly across from the school’s entrance on North Maple said he anticipated that with athletics focused more at the school’s newly purchased Rockefeller property – 54 acres at 181 Glenville Road – traffic would decrease as would overall noise on North Maple.
On the other hand, Karen Fassuliotis, a neighbor, said she supported reduction in traffic, but was not in favor of increasing enrollment by 100.
A letter from Nicole and Dan Negrea of 3 North Street said they were vehemently opposed to the school’s application to increase student enrollment.
Their letter said it was sometimes difficult to get in and out of their driveway at the intersection of Maple/Patterson/N Maple at peak times, and that the sound of car tires, engines, brakes, and especially honking, were already significant at peak times and unpleasant.
A letter from Greenwich Academy to neighbors sent on Nov 6 said the increase in traffic in the past 23 years was not generated by the school. The letter said the school’s traffic flow had remained stable, but town traffic in general had increased, having a negative impact on the intersection at North Maple Ave.
The letter said Kimley Horn’s traffic study, completed in October, found that with the addition of the 7 new buses, bus registrations had increased from 68 to 186 students on the main campus, and ridership during the busiest hour increased from approximately 30 to 110 students.
“This resulted in a reduction of 60 trips which would support an enrollment increase of 50 students,” the letter to neighbors said.
The letter to neighbors said the school is holding an open meeting at their campus on Dec 6 at 5:30pm.
The Greenwich Academy application has yet to be scheduled for a P&Z meeting agenda.