BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Board of Adjustment has approved a special use permit for the construction of the new Weathers Creek High School on town-annexed property at 246 Overcash Road.
The permit, which was unanimously approved on Thursday, is required to ensure compatible development with the suburban residential zoning of the 106-acre parcel.
The site plan includes a 150,000-square-foot school building, 1,200 parking spaces, a synthetic turf stadium, baseball and softball fields, six tennis courts, two synthetic turf practice fields, and several accessory structures.
The site will be split into the school side and athletic side to avoid a major disturbance of a creek running through the property. A pedestrian bridge crosses the creek in the center of the campus, and traffic lanes pass over it on the northern and southern sides.
Project civil engineer David Reese said the campus will have double car lanes to enter and exit campus from the main entrance off Overcash Road. Student parking is to the rear of the school and staff parking at the front.
More parking was added to the project so the school could host regional football games.
Bus traffic will come in on the opposite side of campus off Weathers Creek and feed to the back of the school building.
Because of topographical challenges, Reese said that a lot of dirt will have to be moved to bring the project to reality.
Reese also said the fire marshal and county emergency preparedness officials were involved in designing the school so that it meets standards to house another county emergency shelter. The gymnasium and parts of the main building are being constructed to a higher standard for that purpose.
Reese said that emergency personnel will have access to a gated road access that divides the campus. He also said that the school system is in the process of changing security monitoring equipment and said that no traffic will move on the site that they cannot see.
Associate Town Planner Andrew Ventresca said the concept plan meets all setback, parking, and landscaping requirements set forth in Troutman’s Unified Code of Development. The school project also follows Future Land Use Map for the area, which identifies the property for office/institutional/civic uses.
The site will be developed based on the concept map presented, and engineering documents will be reviewed by the town’s Technical Review Committee prior to official plan approval.
The special traffic impact analysis for schools approved by the NCDOT requires several road and traffic improvements for the project.
The Weathers Creek/Overcash Road intersection must be converted to an all-way stop with “stop ahead” warning signs posted on Weathers Creek. The Ostwalt-Amity/Overcash Road intersection must also be converted to a 4-way stop with “stop ahead” warning signs on Oswalt-Amity.
The project also requires the widening of travel lanes on Overcash Road from 8 to 12 feet across the site frontage to better accommodate parent, student, and bus traffic.
School warning signs and a lowered 25 mph speed limit along the appropriate areas of Overcash, Ostwalt-Amity, and Weathers Creek Roads will also be required.
All traffic mitigations must be completed before a Certificate of Occupancy can be issued, according to Ventresca.
Ventresca also requested the board add a condition requiring the school system to build one pedestrian connectivity to the north and one to the south of the property if the adjacent properties develop into residential neighborhoods.
This pedestrian connection will encourage walking to school and reduce traffic. The board agreed to add this condition to the special use permit.
The board also voted unanimously to issue a variance for a 42 by 45 foot accessory building in front of Marty Abbot’s property because of topographical challenges behind his home.
His 26-acre property is thickly wooded on all sides of the home, and because the building and home are more than 200 feet from road frontage behind the tree line, it would not be visible to passersby.
The board found that putting the building behind his home would cause unnecessary hardship because of topography and that the request was consistent with the spirit, purpose, and intent of the town’s regulations.