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Chambersburg School District to seek parking break

October 14, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Area School District will have to seek a zoning ordinance variance to off-street parking requirements in the borough for a renovated and somewhat larger Trojan Stadium.

The Buildings and Grounds Committee Wednesday met with borough attorney Thomas Finucane to discuss the parking situation for Chambersburg Area Senior High School and other district-owned properties in its vicinity. To comply with the current off-street requirements, the district was told it would need as many as 2,600 parking spaces to accommodate game crowds, said Richard Bender, director of buildings and grounds.

Bender said there are plans to increase parking some by demolishing an old storage building in one lot and expanding a parking area near the auditorium, bringing the number of spaces to approximately 1,350.

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The school is in a low-density residential area and the zoning ordinance calls for it to have four parking spaces for each classroom, "plus 1 for each noninstruction position, plus one for each 5 seats in any auditorium, gym, stadium or place of assembly," according to the ordinance.

Bender said the ordinance assumes the school and all of its facilities will be in use at the same time, which never happens. The issue will not affect the district going forward with seeking bids on renovating the stadium, projected to cost between $4.4 million and $5.5 million, he said.

Once renovated, Trojan Stadium will seat 7,023 people, assuming 18-inches of bleacher space for each fan, said school board member Thomas Orndorf, chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. He said the district will seek a variance on the parking requirements and present the borough's Zoning Hearing Board with documentation that the school has not used the gym, auditorium and stadium simultaneously.

"It could reduce the seating capacity of the stadium," Orndorf said of the ordinance. One partial remedy, he said, could be to redefine what constitutes a seat by making the allowance per fan wider than 18 inches, thus requiring fewer parking spots.

School Board President Craig Musser said Thursday the district plans to file an appeal for the variance today in order to get it on the zoning board's agenda for its Nov. 1 meeting.

If the district is granted the variance, Musser said the borough and the district will benefit.

"One of the reasons we want to continue to have the stadium where it is, instead of out in a township, is because we think it's important to support downtown functions and businesses," Musser said. Restaurants and other businesses will profit from the crowds that scholastic sports bring into town, he said.

Trojan Stadium, its bleachers closed for safety reasons since March, will host its first football game of the season tonight when the Trojans take on the State College (Pa.) Little Lions for homecoming. With the home stands demolished, seating for the game will be about 3,800 on the visitors' stands and in temporary end zone bleachers, Bender said earlier this week.

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