By John Burton
MIDDLETOWN – After months of lengthy hearings and contentious back and forth between objectors and supporters, the planning board has denied the controversial application to construct a permanent campus for Trinity Hall all-girls school on Chapel Hill.
The board’s final vote was 6-3 early Thursday morning to deny the application, after another in a string of marathon hearings. Board members cited traffic safety concerns and technical issues with the application.
The school’s of trustees said in a press release that it plans to appeal the decision and are “confident in the merits of their case and anticipate this decision will be reversed.”
“The denial of the Chapel Hill Road application will in no way impact the day-to-day operations of Trinity Hall,” said Mary Sciarrillo, head of school at Trinity Hall. “We all remain committed to the education and empowerment of our students. We look forward to the next school year and we thank the Trinity Hall community for their support.”
“As a Middletown resident and Trinity Hall board of trustees member I am disappointed in the decision of the Middletown Planning Board, which seems arbitrary and contrary to township ordinance,” Donna Winchell said. “The school is committed to being a good neighbor and has given back to the community through almost 500 hours of community service in just nine months.”
Supporters of Trinity Hall, a private all-girls school offering a Roman Catholic-based educational program, hoped to construct a multi-building campus on approximately 30 acres of a 64-acre undeveloped and largely wooded site on Chapel Hill Road, a mostly residential area populated with homes on sprawling properties and horse farms.
Trinity Hall currently operates out of Croyden Hall, a township-owned facility in the Leonardo section that the school leases from the municipality.
Area residents have been loudly voicing their objections the proposed school, fearing what the educational facility would mean for their neighborhood in terms of traffic congestion and safety and the impact on that property they say is environmentally sensitive.
Proponents have countered, maintaining the school is a beneficial addition to the area and would be preferable to other possible uses for the site.