Despite pleas from the developer and his team of engineers to approve a rezoning request that would allow for construction of a new charter school, council members agreed to hold open a public hearing for another week to give staff an opportunity to research a handful of questions about the proposal.
Senior Planner Jennifer Currin told council members before a public hearing that developers of Cardinal Charter School had submitted some changes to the plan late Tuesday afternoon and that staff had not had an opportunity to review them. Cardinal Charter is proposing to build a two-story, 68,000-square-foot building on a 13-acre tract off Poole Road, east of Hodge Road. The school is eventually expected to house 1,145 students in grades K-8.
Doug Dieck, with Ryan Companies, Inc., which is set to build the school, asked council members to approve the conditional use request Monday night because of time constraints.
“We open schools one day a year. We want to get this built and turned over in mid-July to get staff in and trained before the start of school. We’re really in the ‘time-is-short’ mode,” Dieck said.
The town and the developers also disagree over some of the conditions set out by the town in order to approve the request, including a requirement that the company build a right-hand turn lane on the westbound side of Poole Road at Hodge Road.
Building that turn lane would reduce the lot size and eliminate a lot of parking area at Paul Lee’s store, a landmark business in the community. Among those asking council members not to require that turn lane was Robert Lee, the third-generation owner of the store.
He said the future N.C. 540 could also trigger changes in traffic patterns and that it would be better to wait until that road is constructed, or at least until a route is set, before town officials start making changes to Poole Road.
“I’m hoping we can hold off on a turn lane until we see what 540 will do,” Lee said.
Billy Myrick, another long-time resident, also counseled patience.
“I was just in a meeting about 540 which is just to the west of (the school site). It’s going to cross between the school site and the store. I think it would be wise to see what 540 is going to do to this property and work with DOT and see if we could get it all to work together,” Myrick said.
Mike Horn, an engineer working on the project told council members that the developers have already made a number of changes to the project based on feedback from the town and from DOT. He asked the town to OK the new plans. “We’ve done a lot of working with DOT and with your staff to bring about a great project,” Horn said.
Mayor pro tem Mike Chalk expressed his concerns about traffic in the area, which is bounded on two sides by residential neighborhoods. I’d like to hold the public hearing open to give staff and council time to adequately review the plans that have just been submitted. Bring it back to the Dec. 16 meeting,” Chalk said.
Council agreed and the hearing will continue this week.
While conversation about the charter school’s plans were serious, much of the first part of Monday night’s meeting was celebratory as council members and residents said farewell to outgoing Mayor Russell Killen and watched as new Mayor James Roberson took the oath of office from State Sen. Dan Blue. Council member Dustin Tripp was also sworn in to a second term in office and Pete Mangum took the oath of office as Knightdale’s newest council member.
Following the festivity of the oaths of office, Roberson announced a slew of new committee assignments for council members.
Chalk and Mangum will co-chair the finance committee. Councilmen Randy Young and Mark Swan will co-chair the public safety committee. The planning and engineering committee will include Chalk and Tripp, while Mangum and Young serve on the technical review committee.
Young will serve as the council’s liaison to the Parks and Recreation advisory board, while Tripp serves the same role with the Land Use Review Board. Swan will serve as the council’s representative to the community policing advisory board and Chalk will work with the Old Town advisory committee. Mangum will be the town’s representative to the chamber of commerce.
Roberson will be the town’s representative to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Triangle J Council of Governments and the Greater Raleigh Visitors and Convention Bureau.