For 13 years, the Bridge Academy has rented space on the grounds of Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville, occupying a residential structure and adjacent portable classrooms. The school educates approximately 67 children each year, between ages 8-18 years, with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, ADHD and dysgraphia from multiple counties in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. Though some children attend at their parents’ expense, most others are paid for by their school districts who cannot meet their educational needs.
The school would like to build a science lab, add a music program, and have additional classroom space that will increase capacity to 90 students. Since it is impossible to do so at their current location, they would like to purchase the adjoining property, despite significant environmental constraints that include an underground Transco pipeline and setbacks needed from the stream corridor. The school’s decision to pursue what might be considered too difficult a location for the project, is in part due to the mutually beneficial relationship that the congregation and school have enjoyed over the years, and to their desire of creating as little an impact on some of the more emotionally vulnerable students.
At Wednesday’s Zoning Board meeting, the Bridge Academy requested conditional variances that would allow the project to move forward despite their site plan’s inability to comply with select township ordinances and regulations set by the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission. The proposed site plan shows a U-shaped driveway, existing residential dwelling that would be used for administrative purposes, a proposed 32-space parking lot, and the proposed 14,500 sq.ft. new school.
In supportive testimony by one of the school’s parents, Leah Viera said, “I’ve thought about the purpose of this board and I thought it was to make sure that land use is the greatest according to your master plan. I can think of no better use than respectfully serving the needs of some of our most vulnerable students that they may realize their full potential and go on to become leaders in their communities as well.”
The board will continue to hear expert witness testimony on March 15th at 7pm, in the Lower Level Conference Room, Municipal Building, 2207 Lawrenceville Road.
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