Mosque Traffic Expert Presents Case For Fewer Spaces

Expert's report counting parked cars during services at other mosques in New Jersey doesn't satisfy Bernards Planning Board.

A traffic expert told the Planning Board on Tuesday that his count of how many vehicles actually were parked during the main Friday service at two other mosques in New Jersey indicates that the proposed mosque in Liberty Corner would need a maximum of 70 spots — not the 110 advised by board professional last month.

The board's members did not seem convinced and scheduled the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge's traffic engineer to return on April 25 with further information, additional details on certain points in the report and an additional vehicle count for a mosque in South Brunswick.

The applicant's original number of parking spaces was 50 for the proposed 4,200-square-foot mosque at 124 Church St. in the Liberty Corner section of Bernards Township.

Henry Ney, the traffic engineer testifying on behaf of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, said he had commissioned three counts of vehicles parked at mosques in Franklin Township, and in Toms River. Afterward, he suggested that space for 20 additional spots might be "banked" along with the original 50 proposed spots, and only developed if actually needed in Liberty Corner.

Township professionals suggested in January that a mosque would need more parking spots than an average church since more vehicles arrive driven by one or two worshippers at Friday afternoon services.

The count was 62 this past month at a mosque in Franklin Township, a much larger building overall but with a prayer size just somewhat bigger than what Ney said would be the maximum prayer space size in the proposed mosque in Bernards Township, according to the traffic engineer. That mosque has 120 paved spaces at a 30,000 square foot building with a full-floor school, he said.

He said counts at the Toms River mosque, with 19 paved spaces and a large field he said is used for parking there, came in at 93 and 82 at two separate Friday afternoon services. Experts for the proposed mosque said that would be the week's main worship service, to be held between about noon and 2 p.m.

Ney said that the prayer space within the  studied mosques was similar to the maximum amount of space that the board had previously suggested. However, one of the points of disagreement last night was whether worshippers could fit into a gallery hall between the proposed 1,600-square-foot prayer hall and a multi-purpose room that Ney said would add up to just a little over 2,000 square feet in the proposed Liberty Corner mosque.

Planning Board member Kevin Orr said he recalled the multi-purpose room as being larger, and also asked why the gallery connecting the prayer hall and multi-purpose room couldn't be used for the overflow of worshippers. 

Vincent Bisogno, attorney for the Islamic Society, said that previous witnesses had "clearly" told the board that the gallery hall would not be used by worshippers and that worship services likely would be held only in the prayer hall.

Board members and Jonathan Drill, attorney for the board, repeatedly asked Ney to specify how he reached his calculations for the number of parking spots he thought would be advisory.

Board members also asked for clarification of the formulas used in a report they said they received only before the meeting  on Tuesday evening.

Bisogno also said he would bring certified transcripts from previous hearings on the proposal — which started late last summer — to the April 25 meeting.

After the meeting, Ney said he had been asked only to pick up traffic counts at three out-of-state mosques, but thought that studyinging those within New Jersey that also would have no other parking nearby would provide the most accurate picture. 

Nancy Campbell February 07, 2013 at 02:01 AM
I agree - it is such a shame that this has become an issue of any kind. Lets let people be. Faith in God is something to be encouraged. I hope the township does the right thing and lets the mosque be build. I am a white presbyterian female, and I fully believe that equality and diversity in the USA is of great importance .
Sca D Villa Tina February 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
They by square footage, zoning should comply with regulations. This is not the question domwe accept a muslim practice but the parking. If the current post office, bank or other church in that town has the same percent coverage , parking space alloction that is the number. These folks cannot use their religion as an armour to change town regukations limiting parking. If they were smart, build the building buy a nearby lot and use it for parking. Rules, compliance and ordinances are for we the people not to be used by any organization thinking they are above the law or compliance to an ordiance
Sara Nichols March 12, 2013 at 09:17 PM
I am a resident in Liberty Corner and one of the few who DID move in aware that a Mosque was proposed down the road. All this hoopla and yet the traffic jam every morning at the Liberty Corner School goes unaddressed. People who SHOULD be making use of busses or carpooling cause a jam every morning and people trying to get around them drive over people's lawns. To my knowledge this has been going on for awhile but I don't see anyone up in arms about that! Plain and simple, it's cloaked bigotry. If you don't want a place of worship built where you live, then make sure you're moving to a place where the zoning laws are clear. And if you don't like the zoning laws, don't wait until someone different from you wants to move in and use it in the way the local government ordained. I see no issue with traffic flow, considering the time of day of services and the fact that when the LC Presbytarian Church has their services, there isn't some huge mess on Sundays. It saddens me to see all of the hate spewed and people bringing up 9/11. It's an insult to freedom. And, as a new resident here, the whole "preserve Liberty Corner" thing...why weren't people up in arms when those McMansions were being built, or when vinyl siding was being slapped on historic homes?? If it's a historic district, then establish some consistency about what's allowed folks. The mosque's design fits better than some of these huge cookie cutter McMansions.
b flake March 26, 2013 at 01:13 PM
There must be some reason why they don't want to put in 110 spaces and are fighting it so much.


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