Chatham University Changes Parking Plans, But Neighbors Still Express Concerns

Traffic is a major concern on Glasgow Road and other roadways in the area.

The neighbors of Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus made it known they are not happy with parking plans in the master plan for the 388-acre campus in Richland Township.

The university listened and changed those plans.

Richland's Planning Commission saw the revised plans for the first time Monday night and listened to comments from residents attending the meeting at the .

One of the main points of contention at previous hearings has been the location of parking lots on the perimeter of the property. The plan called for putting them within the sight line of neighbors who now have views of rural scenery.

Residents of Glasgow Road met with Chatham representatives within the last week and, as a result, the university brought a revised parking plan to Monday night's meeting.

Originally, three parking lots with 238 spaces were proposed along Glasgow Road in the northeast section of the campus. They would be for the Stanford Hill section of the campus, where academic and residential buildings will be set among forests, valley streams, meadows and constructed wetlands.

The revised plan moves  some spaces to the water tower area and the Mueller Campus Center off Ridge Road.

A 50-space lot will be moved "significantly down slope" from the original Glasgow Road site, and another two lots with 110 spaces will be created farther from Glasgow Road and closer to the Stanford Hill buildings, said Chris Mendel of Andropogon Associates, a landscape architecture and ecological planning and design firm.

The changes adds a significant expense to the project, Mendel added.

He also explained that landscape buffering would be planted in the Elizabeth Meadows section of the campus to hide a parking lot behind homes on Kim Lane. Located at the southeast corner, Elizabeth Meadows will include parking facilities, townhomes for faculty, students and staff, and additional constructed wetlands, according to Chatham's website.

Residents of Glasgow Road also questioned traffic projections for the project. They said they would welcome a traffic signal at the intersection with Route 8 because of the difficulty in making turns there.

"I'm really choking on the traffic," said Troy Loney of Glasgow Road, pointing out the road is narrow and has no shoulder.

He said bus traffic generated by Eden Hall Upper Elementary School would use Bakerstown and Ridge roads at about the same time as students and faculty would arrive at the Eden Hall campus for morning classes.

Because motorists will not want to get behind buses, they probably will look for alternative routes, such as Glasgow, State or Ridge roads or Kim Lane, he said.

Don Hopey, who lives on Glasgow Road, praised Chatham Vice President for Finance and Administration Walter Fowler for meeting with the neighbors to discuss their concerns.

Hopey asked the planning commission and Chatham to look at moving a proposed primary access road to the Stanford Hill area because its terminus is across from his property.

Hopey's neighbor, Andrew Knox, suggested placing the parking in one or two spots on campus in green-roof parking lots.

"It's weird to have all these parking lots" on a pedestrian-friendly campus, he said. The green-roof parking lots would fit Chatham's plans for a sustainable campus, he added.

Chatham's representatives quickly replied that the university could not construct green-roof parking garages because "the cost is extraordinary."

The public will have the opportunity to comment on Chatham's master plan again at the next Richland Township Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on April 18 at the Richland Municipal Building.

The planning commission will forward a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, who are scheduled to discuss the plan at 7 p.m. on April 20 at the township's municipal building.




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