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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Zoning Commission holds off vote on TCGIS expansion plans

Posted on 13 January 2019 by Calvin

Delay gives school and community time to reach agreements on parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, and sound issues

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Given the unresolved issues regarding parking, traffic and playground noise at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, the District 10 Board asked the St. Paul Zoning Commission to hold off on decisions that would facilitate the school’s expansion project.
While the District 10 Board approved three variance requests on Tues., Dec. 18, it delayed action on the school’s site plan believing it to be incomplete.

During a Dec. 20, 2018, Zoning Commission meeting, District 10 Executive Director Michael Kuchta asked the commission to table action to give the school, city staff, and community time to “fully review, deliberate and reach agreements” on various issues.

“The plan, as it currently exists, is incomplete,” wrote Kuchta in a letter to the commission. “It should not be approved until numerous areas of uncertainty are settled. Parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, and sound and sight buffering of the school’s play areas all are specific issues that remain unresolved.”

Kuchta cited uncertainty about how many on-site parking spaces the school needs and how that might be addressed.

He pointed out that city staff and the community have not had adequate time to review a 200-page traffic study submitted by the school. “It is unclear what actions city staff will require in areas such as traffic flow, student drop-off and pick-up, bus parking, crosswalk treatments, a Safe Routes to School plan, and related issues,” Kuchta wrote. “Especially because of the high percentage of private vehicles that transport students, these decisions have intense impacts on quality of life in the immediate residential neighborhood.”

He also pointed out that the school’s playground is unusually close to nearby residences.

“These are issues that exist today—and will continue to exist—regardless of what form the school’s expansion takes,” stated Kuchta.

The Zoning Commission agreed to table the issue following a four-hour hearing, and the school agreed to extend the legal deadline for review by 14 days to accommodate this.

The Zoning Commission will next review the issue on Jan. 17, and send a final recommendation to the Planning Commission on Jan. 25. The city council could review this on March 6.

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