Mixed feelings aired about proposed Pawleys school

  • Monday, August 25, 2014

Residents of Allston Plantation in Pawleys Island have mixed feelings about a proposed school being built near their homes.

Four residents spoke about the plan to build Coastal Montessori Charter School on the property Aug. 12, during the public comment period at a Georgetown County Council meeting.

The council passed first reading, by title only, of an ordinance to amend the Allston Plantation Planned Development to allow for the conceptual plan for Parcel P-5.

That parcel, approved for Office Commercial uses, is the proposed property for the school.

There would be two access roads to the school, Old Plantation Drive and Barony Place.

Three of the residents who spoke said they do not want the school to be in their neighborhood.

One resident, as well as Dan Stacy, agent for Waterford Plantation Development Co., LLC, said the school would be an asset to the community and would be an improvement from what was planned to go there before.

Mark Wilson of 134 Old Plantation Drive, said the school will add too much traffic to the area.

He said if the school is built, he will fear for his granddaughter to play outside.

“I don’t think a school should be built in our community,” Wilson said.

“The area is not made for a school.”

Larry and Meg Kelly of 170 Old Plantation Road agreed.

“My home is directly across the street from [the property for] the proposed building,” Larry Kelly said.

“Our roadways will not be able to handle the traffic.”

He said that he has four children and with added traffic, “our children would not be safe out in front of our house.”

Meg Kelly added that large trucks are loading and unloading materials at the landscaping business on the corner of US 17 and Old Plantation Drive at all times of day.

“With a school there, traffic will back up all the time on that corner,” Meg Kelly said.

“If a school is built, they will need to have another access to it.”

Martha Propps of 151 Greenfield Place, also in that neighborhood, said she is for the school being built there.

“That area is zoned for something commercial to go there,” she said.

“Something is going to go there and I think a school would be a good neighbor to have, as opposed to a medical facility.”

In 2001, the property in question was approved with a medical district designation for a possible assisted living project as part of the commercial portion of the Allston Plantation Planned Development.

On May 25, 2004 the council amended this section of the Planned Development to allow for office commercial use.

The approved plan indicates 10 separate one-story 5,000-square-foot office buildings (50,000 square feet total) surrounding a parking area.

Access for the property was approved off Barony Place, the main entrance road for the Planned Development, and on Old Plantation Drive. No access was approved for US 17.

The applicant is now requesting an amendment to property to allow for a public charter school. The plan is for a classroom area of 25,060 square feet, an office/conference area of 7,000 square feet and a gym/kitchen area of 16,000 square feet for a total of 49,060 square feet.

Stacy explained that since the Allston Plantation Planned Development was originally approved in 2001, prior to the traffic analysis requirement being enacted in 2004, a traffic impact study was not prepared or required prior to approval.

The currently approved plan for 50,000 square feet of commercial office space would generate an estimated 800 traffic trips per day.

The proposed charter school is expected to have a total of 384 students at total build out, which would include a high school component.

“Based on the proposed number of students, the estimated number of traffic trips per day is 568,” Stacy said.

Using an alternative calculation based on total square footage, a 49,060 square foot elementary school would generate an estimated total of 757 trips per day, according to planning staff.

The numbers are less for a middle school or high school of the same size, according to the Institute of Traffic Engineers.

Johnson reported that both methods demonstrate a reduction in traffic when compared to the currently approved plan.

Also, school traffic would be expected to be concentrated at specific times of the day and year, as opposed to every day all year.

“If the school wanted to build 10 separate buildings in stead of one, we wouldn’t have to be here at all,” Stacy said.

He stated that a traffic study will be done before final approval by the council.

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