The Town Council on Wednesday, Sept. 21, unanimously approved a special use permit to allow plans for a new East Wake Middle School on the site of the current school to proceed.
The 216,387-square-foot facility is to be constructed at 2700 Old Milburnie Road. The site is nearly 53 acres.
Plans call for a three-story classroom building to replace the original facility constructed in 1989. The current facility is 136,430 square feet and has an enrollment of 1,163 students. The new one would have a capacity of 1,450 students.
Construction is expected to begin in 2018 with completion in August 2020. Construction is expected to cost up to $52 million. The current school is expected to remain open during construction and then be demolished upon the opening of the new school.
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Council members raised some concerns about what would happen to two retention ponds on the property. Keith Downing, a landscape architect with CLH Design, the Cary-based firm working on the design of the new school, said the plan was to grade those areas flat once the ponds are removed and that no construction was planned there. If construction is ever planned there, Downing said, the soil would have to be tested.
The council held a public hearing on the special use permit on Sept. 6, during which two neighboring land owners spoke against the project. Downing said in response to a question from council member Pete Mangum that the development team had not met with the neighbors since the public hearing but had worked to alleviate their concerns.
“We will work with the neighbors,” Downing said. “We have not met with them since, but we agree to work with them to satisfy their concerns to the extent possible by adding the fence and doing as much as we can to help satisfy their concerns.”
Council members agreed that the new school fit with the surrounding area and would not hurt adjoining property values. “The school hasn’t changed their property values up to this point,” Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Chalk said. “All it would do, it looks like to me, is go up because of the new school. It’s probably better than what’s there now.”
Plans also include adding a traffic signal at the intersection of Old Milburnie and Forestville roads.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826