Traffic increase from boutique hotel would be “negligible,” applicant’s expert says

The conversion of the Hollystone Manor to a boutique hotel would not significantly increase traffic on Fiddler’s Creek Road, a traffic engineer hired by the property owner testified last week at a Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Appeals hearing.

Even projecting the highest rates of use for the renovated property, “the traffic generated will be negligible,” said Elizabeth Dolan, a partner in Dolan and Dean Consulting. “We saw no negative impact at the intersection (of Route 29) and nominal traffic on Fidldler’s Creek Road from the northeast.”

Dolan testified during a third, three-hour meeting of the Zoning Board, which is considering an application for a use variance that would allow the new owner of 29 Fiddler’s Creek Road to renovate the existing residential property to open a boutique hotel. The property is in a restricted-use Mountain Resource Conservation District and located between the Ted Stiles Nature Preserve and the Fiddlers Creek Nature Preserve. 

Dolan was hired to conduct the traffic study by the new owner, Margot Stern, as part of the use variance application. 

The study measured peak-hour traffic at the intersection of Route 29 and Fiddler’s Creek Road on June 21, 2021, Dolan said. She then compared that data with data from a nearby State Department of Transportation traffic monitor on Route 29. The State counts, from 2016 and 2018, were higher, so she used the highest use numbers from 2018, to make her traffic impact study. 

Dolan said she used standard engineering measures — Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) metrics  — to generate an estimate of the increase in traffic for a 27-room hotel with amenities like a spa and pool. She also did the same for a separate, full-service 60-seat restaurant. 

The increased traffic during the peak hours studied — Tuesday evening and Saturday mid-day — would amount to 18 entries and eight exits for the hotel on a weekday, or 26 total uses, and ten exits and entries during peak hours on Saturday, or 20 total uses, Dolan said.

The increased traffic estimates for a restaurant with a bar would be 13 entries and 10 exits, or 23 total uses, during the peak weekday hour, and 17 entries and 15 exits, or 32 total uses, during mid-day Saturday peak traffic hours.

In all, weekday peak usage for the hotel and restaurant would amount to 49 total uses and 52 total uses on peak midday Saturday. Dolan also said that truck use, from a traffic perspective, would have minimal impact and would likely happen during off-peak times. The estimated increase in traffic volume is about half of the 100 total use standard that would require a more formal traffic impact study.

“We have assessed a worst-case scenario for traffic. … From my perspective, the traffic generated will be negligible,” Dolan said. “This is not a high generating traffic use that is proposed.”

The Zoning Board continued the hearing until its next regularly scheduled meeting, February 1, when it will hear testimony from other expert witnesses.

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