The exterior facade of the proposed new gymnasium at Pottsgrove High School
SANATOGA PA – Architects and contractors handling the proposed $31 million renovation of Pottsgrove High School will appear Jan. 28 (2014; Tuesday) before the Lower Pottsgrove Zoning Hearing Board to ask for four variances that would allow the project to proceed as currently planned.
To outsiders, one request may seem of far greater importance than the rest, though. They’re seeking approval for the school to continue to exist and function right where it is, at 1345 Kauffman Rd. within a residential (R-2) zone.
The school was built almost six decades ago, and has since been reconstructed and expanded several times. Allowing an institution like it in an area primarily reserved for homes requires the township to grant specific permission, known as a special exception. The project’s need for other zoning variances demands confirmation of the exception already in place.
With hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in the high school building, its equipment and fields during the course of so many years, most observers assume approval of the exception is a foregone conclusion. Officials of the Pottsgrove School District and their representatives certainly hope so.
The significance of three other variances being requested pale in comparison.
Designers are asking for permission to create a stairway closer to the existing building line than would normally be permitted; to erect taller-than-usual poles to light an athletic field and tennis court; and to allow some of those lights to be brighter than what the law now specifies.
Architects knew months ago, when they talked with the township Planning Commission, that some variances would likely be needed for zoning relief. The township Board of Commissioners, which ultimately must also approve the school plans, was notified during its meeting last Monday (Jan. 6) that a hearing on the issues had been scheduled. The hearing is open to the public, and neighboring property owners or others with opinions will be given a chance to comment.
On the same night, before school district spokesmen make their case, the zoning board also will conduct a hearing to discuss variances needed for construction of a garage and home office structure on Hilltop Road.
The board consists of three members and an alternate. It will be led by veteran Robert Mohollen. Its second regular member, Keith Diener – a real estate salesperson and former constable – will attend as one of its newest; he was appointed by commissioners only weeks ago to fill a board vacancy. The third board member, well-known Sanatoga local insurance agent James Vlahos, also is new, having been appointed just last week.
A legal advertisement placed by the board to announce the hearings was published Friday (Jan. 10). Its content appears below:
Lower Pottsgrove Township Zoning Hearing
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, in accordance with 250-226 of the Lower Pottsgrove Township Zoning Ordinance of 1973, as amended, (hereinafter, “Ordinance”) of Hearings before the Lower Pottsgrove Township Zoning Hearing Board on January 28, 2014 at 6:00 P.M. at the Lower Pottsgrove Township Building, 2199 Buchert Road, Sanatoga, Pennsylvania on the following:
1. Application No. 2014-01 of Kyle Laverty, 1377 Hilltop Road, Pottstown, PA, owner of the property located in the R-2 District for the following relief from the Ordinance in order to permit the construction of a steel accessory structure for home garage/office/storage use: A. Variance from 250-21.D.(1) to permit an accessory structure with a front yard setback which is closer to the street than the front of the principal dwelling; B. Variance from 250-21.D.(3)(a) to permit an accessory structure with a side yard setback which does not meet the minimum side yard setback for the principal dwelling; C. Variance from 250-59.A. to permit an existing lot area of less than 30,000 sq. ft.; D. Variance from 250-59.B. to permit an existing lot width of less than 125′; E. Variance from 250-21.B.(6) to permit a no-impact home-based business; and F. Special Exception pursuant to 250-21.D.(4) to permit an accessory structure of 800 sq. ft. rather than the permitted 600 sq. ft.; and G. Certification of a non-conforming lot; and
2. Application No. 2014-02 of Pottsgrove School District, 1301 Kauffman Road, Pottstown, PA, owner of the property located in the R-2 District for the following relief from the Ordinance in order to permit improvements to the school which will include additions to the gym, cafeteria, lab and guidance offices, parking lot and circulation improvements and alternate for a synthetic turf field and new softball field: A. Variance and/or interpretation pursuant to 250-22 to permit a stairway encroachment within the existing building line; B. Variance from 250-36.D.(3)(f) to permit 4 lighting fixture poles not to exceed 80 ft. for an outdoor ball field and 8 lighting fixture poles not to exceed 22 feet for a tennis court; C. Variance from 250-36.D.(4)(a) to permit illumination onto a residential property line at higher intensities than that permitted in the Ordinance; and D. Special Exception and/or interpretation pursuant to 250-58.C. to permit the continuation of a School Use in the R-2 Zoning District.
At the time of the Hearings any person or parties interested will be given full opportunity to be heard. The Lower Pottsgrove Township Zoning Hearing Board shall hold its organizational meeting immediately prior to the Hearings on January 28, 2014. The Board reserves the right to conduct such other business as may come before it.
LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
Related (to Pottsgrove High reconstruction):
Artists’ rendering from the Pottsgrove School District
Photo from Google images