BRUNSWICK PLANNING BOARD MEMBER Jane Arbuckle discusses the significance of additional traffic to be generated by a new school at the site of the current Jordan Acres Elementary School on Tuesday during a board review of a special permit application.

BRUNSWICK PLANNING BOARD MEMBER Jane Arbuckle discusses the significance of additional traffic to be generated by a new school at the site of the current Jordan Acres Elementary School on Tuesday during a board review of a special permit application.

BRUNSWICK

The Brunswick School Department can go forward with construction of a new school with a larger footprint than zoning allows at the site of the now defunct Jordan Acres Elementary School.

The Brunswick Planning Board unanimously approved a special permit Tuesday, though the project will still be required to undergo a final review by the board.

The existing school on the site is slated for demolition, likely in April or May, to make way for the new school.

Zoning only allows a footprint of up to 5,000 square feet in this zone. The proposed new school will have an approximately 70,900-square-foot footprint, which triggered the need for a special permit. However, several performance standards are required to obtain one.

Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects told planning board members the school is being designed for 670 students and will house grades pre-kindergarten through second grade, and contain three academic wings. There is an ongoing discussion about the elementary schools someday possibly becoming pre-K through fifth grade schools.

Jordan Acres was closed in 2011 for a number of reasons, including structural failures in the laminated temper beams, Keck said. With a footprint of 39,700 square feet, Jordan Acres has stood at 75 Jordan Ave. for 40 years.

Civil engineer Andrew Johnston with Atlantic Resource Consultants said the new building will be longer and more narrow than the current building and separate school bus and passenger vehicle traffic. The Charles Court right of way is 25-feet wide and the pavement only 20-feet wide, “so we don’t want the buses coming in and out of here.”

Instead, buses will enter using the other existing driveway, enter the drop off loop and exit the site. There is a similar drop off for passenger cars through Charles Court.

Johnston said this plan allows creation of a 24-foot-wide road sufficient for the buses to park, which can’t be done on Charles Court.

“From an overall safety perspective, using a wider access for buses makes a lot more sense than to try to cram them into the narrow access,” he said. “And, short of that, you have to mix the two traffic streams which is what we don’t want to do.”

Planning board member Jane Arbuckle still questioned whether it makes sense to use the larger entrance less. It seems a waste of a bigger entrance, she said.

She wasn’t alone with her concern.

“You’re going to have snow storage, you’re going to have cars going both ways, you’re going to have sidewalks apparently on both sides and bicycles,” said board member M. Kelly Matzen. “That sounds like a lot of conflict on that road. Maybe there’s nothing that can be done, but I think it’s a concern.”

The board also had to consider buffering. The ordinance calls for a 6- foot-high solid fence around the school, which wouldn’t normally be part of a school design, Johnston said.

“We’d love to consider alternatives for that,” he said, noting most ordinances have more flexibility for what kind of buffering is used.

Keck said his team will meet with neighbors, which includes a daycare facility, and ask them what kind of screening they feel is appropriate.

The planning board also wrestled with whether or not the project creates “significantly more vehicular traffic.” A traffic study determined there will be a 30-percent increase, but not a significant increase in traffic.

Board members determined that when compared with traffic on Jordan Avenue now, the increase is not significant.

No one spoke during the public hearing. The town council has 30 days to take over jurisdiction of the special permit application.

The new school proposal should be back before the planning board in late February or early March for review of the final plan. Construction is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

An elementary school building committee has been formed to plan for the future school and will meet tonight at 6 p.m. at the town office.

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In the zone

CURRENT ZONING only allows a footprint of up to 5,000 square feet in this zone. The proposed new school will have an approximately 70,900- square-foot footprint, which triggered the need for a special permit.


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