Board OKs school's expansion

December 19, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - The City of Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday granted The Washington County Board of Education permission to build additions to Salem Avenue Elementary School next summer.

In a public hearing at City Hall Wednesday night, Schools Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee presented the zoning board with design plans for Salem Avenue Elementary School.

Some of the plans, drafted by BMGM Architects, encroached on zoning laws.

Renovations will place a 42-foot high gymnasium near the center of the school. That is 7 feet higher than allowed by the current zoning ordinance.


"It won't look like a skyscraper," McGee said. He said the gym needs to be built that tall in order to adapt it for community use. The gym will fit into the design of the rest of the school, he said.

McGee said Salem Avenue Elementary School, built in 1951, was constructed eight years before the current zoning restrictions were put in place.

The school also will add areas for pre-kindergarten rooms and classrooms.

One addition will be 115 feet from Key Avenue. The other will be 70 feet from Delaware Avenue.

The zoning ordinance requires that schools built in residential areas be 150 feet from roads.

James Johnson, chairman of the zoning appeals board, said the board didn't have a problem with the School Board's request to build outside the zoning restrictions.

Zoning Administrator Debbie Everhart said Salem Avenue is unique because the School Board didn't have any land adjacent to the existing property and therefore could not meet the setback requirement.

Salem Avenue Elementary School has more than 350 students, McGee said. He said housing developments sprouting up within the Salem Avenue district require the School Board to expand the facility.

The school is now 46,500 square feet and the renovations will create an additional 27,000 square feet.

No community members attended the 7 p.m. public hearing at City Hall.

McGee said he has heard no opposition to the School Board's plans.

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