January 21, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 5 Mahwah Olney Road issues still lingering in township by Frank J. McMahon The Mahwah Council has decided to seek a traffic engineer’s professional opinion on the safety condition of Olney Road to determine if the council should take action to close that road again to through traffic. Olney Road extends from Miller Road to Stephens Lane, and a portion of the road just north of its intersection with Snow Drive narrows to a width that does not allow two cars to easily pass each other. The road was closed to through traffic in the spring of 2006 after the New Jersey Department of Transportation approved a road-closing ordinance that was adopted by the council. That action was challenged in Superior Court by a resident of Stephens Lane, and Judge Jonathan N. Harris ordered the road to be reopened in September of last year. In his ruling, Harris suggested, however, that if the township could provide sufficient objective evidence such as traffic counts, or an analysis of the speed of traffic on the road, or verification by objective reports that there are legitimate concerns for pedestrians in the area, there is nothing that would prohibit the township from renewing its effort to close the road. Township Attorney Terry Bottinelli advised the council at a recent public meeting that Harris found that the township accepted anecdotal information from residents as the basis for the ordinance, and he wanted independent verification of the safety issues on that road. He said it was decided, therefore, that it would be less expensive for the township to obtain a report from a traffic engineer to see if the road should be closed again in order to provide maximum safety for the residents of the township rather than to appeal the court ruling. “The engineer will make a recommendation to the council on whether or not further action should be taken,” Bottinelli said. “We need an engineer to tell us if there is a safety issue there and how to fix it.” He suggested that one option is to widen the whole road, but that may be too ordinance in January 2006 that would allow emergency expensive. Councilman Samuel Alderisio emphasized that the vehicles to access the closed portion of the road. But then a township never intended that road to be opened to through property owner on Olney Road complained that the closed traffic, and that was also the opinion of the planning portion of the road blocked his driveway, leading the counboard when the Stephens Lane housing development was cil to adopt another ordinance repealing the previous two approved. But he explained that restriction was inadver- ordinances while closing a 15-foot section of Olney Road tently left out of the memorializing resolution approving so as not to block that driveway. In May 2006, the council was advised that NJDOT that development. “If the township wanted that road to be open, it would would approve the ordinance the township adopted in Janhave made the developer make all the improvements that are uary 2006 to close Olney Road near its intersection with necessary there,” Alderisio said. But Bottinelli responded Stephens Lane. That approval, by a deputy attorney general who was assigned to review the issue, reversed the previous that Judge Harris did not accept that argument. Several residents of the Olney Road area have urged the opinion of a supervising highway engineer of the NJDOT. The road was then closed to through traffic and the lawcouncil to take action to reclose the road, but other resisuit was later filed asking the court to reopen the road. dents have petitioned the council to keep it open. Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli is opposed to closing the road, and he submitted a report to the court in which he indicated that he did not think it was necessary to close the road from a safety standpoint. Also, a report by traffic safety officer Lieutenant Robert Sinnaeve indicated that the safety concerns expressed by residents were unfounded based on a limited traffic count study he performed on the roadway. Olney Road dead ended into a wooded area before it was extended to meet Stephens Lane when houses were built there in the late 1990s. But it remained closed after its extension to Stephens Lane was completed because barricades were placed across the roadway. Many motorists drove around the barricades, and residents of that road ����������������������������� often placed obstacles in the road to stop motorists from ������������������������ using the road to access Stephens Lane. �������������� The township then opened the road as a public street, �������� ����������� thoroughfare, and right-of-way for use by the general ������� public in August 2004. But in November 2005, the town������������������ ship council adopted an ordinance closing a 20-foot section of the roadway and submitted that ordinance to the NJDOT for approval. The NJDOT refused to do so. In response to the NJDOT, the council adopted another until February ����������� ������� ������� ��� ������������ YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSPAPER Information 26 E. Main St. Ramsey Bai’s Your School Tae Kwon Do 201-327-7080 ���������������������������������� ������������������ � ����������������������� ���������������������� �������������������� ��������� ����������� ������������� ��������� �������� SALE � ������� ������ ���������������� �������������������������������� ���������������� ������������������������ ������������������ Winter ���������������������������� ���������������������� ������������ �������������� �������������� ����������������