The Planning Board approved the Milky Way Education’s Center application to create a new education campus on the former BAE System Property on Totowa Road.
The Pioneer Academy of Science bills itself as a co-educational “independent, private institution.” Students mostly hail from wealthy families both in the United States and from eastern European countries. The school is based in Clifton.
The board unanimously approved the application.
“Our focus is to try and educate children and not just the ones who already go to [Pioneer], but everyone in the neighborhood,” said Yucel Ari, a project manager with Lilium Inc. who spoke on behalf of Milky Way at the meeting.
According to its website, the school is also preparing to move to Denville. It is not known if that new location would be a sister campus. Ari said officials would like the Wayne campus to be up and running “as soon as possible,” possibly by September 2013.
Ari said the school is in the process of acquiring the BAE Systems property on Totowa Road.
About 200 students are currently enrolled in the academy. The school would like to gradually increase that number to 600.
Of the projected 600 students, 300 boys would live in nearly 100 dorm rooms located on the second and third floors of the institution. The first floor would be used for classrooms. Some students would be allowed off campus with a chaperone.
The approved plans also permit a gymnasium to be built on the property. Ari said that the building is scheduled to be constructed and open by September 2014.
Students will be picked up from the academy’s current location and bussed to Wayne or dropped at the school by their parents.
The town council prohibiting dormitories being built in town expect in specifically zoned areas.
The legislation would have prohibited the school from making the move.
Township officials argued that Milky Way did not have the proper paperwork submitted before the ordinance was approved. Milky Way sued the township.
A Superior Court judge that the company had all of the proper documents in order when it submitted its application.
We know that what we went through wasn’t right,” Ari said. “We feel that it was a just decision and everyone is on good terms now.”