Parkland Press

Friday, March 23, 2018
This rendering shows the proposed Parkland elementary school along Twin Ponds Road, Upper Macungie. This rendering shows the proposed Parkland elementary school along Twin Ponds Road, Upper Macungie.

Planners recommend approval for new elementary school

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by JUSTIN SWEITZER Special to The Press in Local News

Parkland School District moved one step closer toward getting a new school approved, as planners in Upper Macungie Township recommended conditional approval Jan. 17 for a proposed elementary school along Twin Ponds Road.

Planners voted unanimously for approval but with a list of conditions the school district must meet.

Among the conditions was the township’s request the school district prohibit parking along Twin Ponds Road during special events.

The township originally sought a covenant on plans submitted on behalf of the school district, but agreed to forgo the covenant if the school district conducted a parking study and placed signs alerting residents parking would not be allowed along the road during special events.

Planners also recommended approval for multiple waivers the district was seeking.

Among the waivers the commission approved was a waiver relating to the scale of a subdivision plan, another allowing the district to submit a preliminary/final plan in lieu of submitting both a preliminary plan and a final plan as well as a third to allow a different configuration of landscape aisles on the property.

Additionally, there was thorough discussion on a proposed traffic light the district plans to have constructed at the intersection of Twin Ponds, Schantz and Arrowhead roads.

The signal is still under review by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, according to Sunny Ghai, a member of the planning commission.

“How do we know that you’re not going to occupy the school and conduct your business without that,” Ghai asked. “A lot of us are very concerned about the implications of all that additional traffic...”

Terry DeGroot, engineer from Terraform Engineering, a firm working with the school district on the project, said while there is a possibility the school opens without the light finished, the district’s intention is to have construction of the light completed before the school opens in fall 2020.

“It is our intent to get through the PennDOT approvals process this year,” DeGroot said. “I, quite honestly, expect that to happen later this year, and those improvements would be slated for construction the following year, in which case it would get finished before the school opens up. That is our intent.”

Township resident Stephanie Erwin said in addition to the traffic light, she was also concerned about westbound traffic on Schantz Road.

Erwin asked how traffic would be mitigated there and said that due to poor sight lines, traffic build up could cause accidents in the area.

“If there’s a few cars backed up, there could definitely be accidents there,” Erwin said.

DeGroot said a left turn lane and a through lane would help mitigate traffic at the location.

Planners said they have also explored the idea of some sort of alert to notify drivers of potential traffic ahead.

“There will be a left turn lane in there,” DeGroot said. “So the vehicles that will typically be stopped will have a safe place to do so.”

The school would be able to accommodate 700 students. The property is approximately 18 acres and will feature a two-story elementary school with a cafeteria, gymnasium and playgrounds.