The Urbana Planning Commission convened on Monday to discuss Urbana City Schools’ request for approval of its preliminary site plan for a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school at 550 Community Drive.
During the 90-minute work session, Community Development Manager Doug Crabill summarized a city of Urbana Technical Review Committee report containing remarks made by city department/division heads as to their concerns with the school district’s preliminary site plan.
Before discussing the Technical Review Committee’s report, city Director of Law Breanne Parcels reminded the Planning Commission of its basic duties as it relates to reviewing the preliminary site plan details.
“You’re basically looking at how does this fit with the city’s ordinances,” she said. “The problem is, because this isn’t a typical development, the only ordinances we have to go by are what they call the subdivision regulations. We evaluate the project based on subdivision regulations as they are written.
“Even though the school district is not per se a subdivider of this property, it still has to follow certain rules and regulations such as the engineering standards and all those things pertaining to the infrastructure,” she added.
As for the proposed infrastructure as laid out by the school district in the preliminary site plan, the areas drawing the most discussion during the work session centered on sanitary sewer, water main and sidewalk installations.
Crabill informed Planning Commission members of the school district’s plans to install sanitary sewer on the Boyce Street extension but not on the Community Drive extension, even though the city ordinance calls for both extensions to have sanitary sewer installed.
“The sanitary sewer line on Community Drive we want to make sure gets run now as opposed to later,” he said. “It’s not something we want to put in at a later date.”
Michael Myers, project manager for Fanning Howey Associates (the firm hired by the school district to handle the project’s architectural work), stated, “The sanitary sewer on Boyce Street is necessary for connection to the building. We do not have a deep enough invert on Community Drive for us to connect to.”
Myers added the sewer line on Community Drive will never service the school building, but the line is located outside the width of the proposed street extension.
“If someone wanted to extend the sanitary sewer years down the road, they can still dig alongside the roadway there,” he said. “Legal counsel for the school district has advised us that the school district cannot fund infrastructure that does not service the project.”
Crabill acknowledged the elevation issue with the sewer line on Community Drive, but noted the city engineer stated in his report to the Technical Review Committee that there are some points along Community Drive where the sewer could potentially trespass into the curb and gutter, which would require repairs to be made to the street in the future if the sanitary sewer line was installed at a later date.
“I think we should just forget about that aspect (installation of sanitary sewer on Community Drive),” Planning Commission member Bill Kremer said. “If they can’t do it, they can’t do it.”
When it comes to getting city water to the proposed school building, the site plan calls for the water line to be extended from Community Drive along the western boundary of the school district’s property near the quarry where it will then be taken across the property along the service drive and parking lot before connecting to the city water line on Boyce Street.
Water Superintendent Bob Munch stated in the Technical Review Committee’s report that the district is planning to connect a 12-inch water line to the current 8-inch water line at Boyce Street, which could result in low flows to hydrants and impeded fire protection. For this reason, he’s recommending the water line be connected to the 12-inch line at Washington Avenue, which already serves as Mercy Memorial Hospital’s secondary water supply.
“Our intention is, by running the water line up to the building and continuing it on past our parking lots to Boyce Street, we are actually looping the city water system, which will better equalize pressure across the entire system,” Myers said. “It will also better provide pressure to the school as well.”
Myers also noted that the school district is willing to provide the city with an easement for the water line on the western end of its property near the quarry since the city has stated a desire to potentially construct a water tower on city property just north of the quarry.
The preliminary site plan calls for sidewalks to be extended north along the east side of Community Drive from where the existing sidewalks end to the future Washington Avenue intersection and east along the south side of Boyce Street from the current drive access to the athletic complex to the future Summit Avenue intersection.
Several Planning Commission members expressed concerns over the safety of students walking in the road on Boyce Street due to the lack of sidewalks along the south side of the roadway leading to the school site.
Kremer asked if the school district would consider extending the sidewalk further west along Boyce Street.
Myers said additional sidewalk heading west from the athletic complex on Boyce Street toward Dorothy Moore Avenue could be a possibility if any excess funds are found to be available.
Landfill issue addressed
Planning Commission member Bill Edwards Sr. expressed his concern with the proximity of the proposed school building to the city’s closed landfill located just north of the school district’s property.
Myers said an environmental engineer was brought in by the school district to conduct an independent study by testing the site.
“They didn’t find any contamination or concerns due to the landfill being north of the site,” he said, adding the school district also contacted the Ohio EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to discuss the rules and regulations for building a school near a landfill.
“There is no criteria that they have that needs to be imposed on the project from their perspective, so there is nothing restricting us from building there,” Myers said.
Myers did confirm the Ohio EPA will require the city to do additional monitoring of the landfill due to its proximity to the school site.
Action expected at next meeting
The Planning Commission will meet in regular session at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, in the upstairs training room of the municipal building to again consider the site plan. This is the sole item on the agenda and action is expected.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.