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Schools to withdraw permit request for Williamsport bus lot

December 13, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT - A permit request from Washington County Public Schools to park buses on a lot in Williamsport will be withdrawn, a school system official said Tuesday.

The town's mayor said a permit was never requested.

Several months ago, the school system began to fence in an existing parking lot across from Williamsport Elementary School. Officials have said the lot could accommodate 18 to 20 buses, but would regularly house 13.

The plan was met with mostly negative response from the community.

Assistant Superintendent for School Operations Boyd Michael said a letter will be sent this week to the town to withdraw a permit to park buses on the lot. He said the town rejected that request, and an appeal deadline was put in place.

Michael said the permit request was being withdrawn because the school system didn't want to miss that appeal deadline.

"We haven't determined whether we are going to appeal," he said.

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Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II said the school system never made an official request with the town for a permit and, therefore, will be requesting the withdrawal of a request they never filed.

Michael said officials were leaving their options open and had not made a decision on whether to move forward with plans for the lot.

The school system can reapply to park buses in the lot, he said.

Since the project was announced over the summer, town officials have said the school system needs to go through the town's planning and zoning board for approval.

In public meetings, they have voiced frustration that school officials did not abide by that process, which includes seeking approval by the planning and zoning board to change the use of a parcel of land.

If the board denies the request, an appeal can be made through the town's zoning appeals board.

"I guess the board has realized they do need to go through our town," McCleaf said. "If there's anything positive, that's what it is."

McCleaf said if the school system files a request, he expects it will not be approved.

"Nobody in the town wants it," he said.

William B. McKinley, acting administrator for Washington County Public Schools, sent a letter to McCleaf dated Thursday asking if he was aware of "any property that would be suitable to house (school system) buses ...."

"With the expanding number of buses, we are experiencing a shortage of parking and are looking for sites (at least one acre) to supplement our existing parking locations," McKinley said in the letter.

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