Friday, June 14, 2024

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High-tech charter high school planned for Mebane

A preliminary site plan has been filed with the city of Mebane to build what could be the city’s first charter school on approximately 15 acres of vacant land within what is now the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, near the intersection of West Ten Road with Rock Quarry Road.

Described as “Western Triangle High School” on the preliminary site plan filed with the city, the proposed charter high school would be built just over the Alamance County line, in western Orange County and approximately 2½ miles from Gravelly Hill Middle School, which is part of the Orange County school system.

The charter high school now being proposed for Mebane appears to be part of the same project that Orange County’s commissioners voted unanimously to reject in June 2023, based on the preliminary site plan that’s been filed with the city, as well as documents on file with the state (see related story this, edition).

The proposed charter high school would offer a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-based curriculum and intended to draw high school students from Alamance, Durham, and Orange counties, based on information submitted for the January 2024 meeting of the state Charter School Review Board.

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Opening of charter high school has already been delayed twice:

The preliminary site plan, developed by Summit Design and Engineering in Hillsborough, shows where the potential charter high school would be located on the 15.7-acre site but gives no details about the possible square footage, the number of stories, and how many buildings would be constructed.

Mebane city officials confirmed for The Alamance News Tuesday morning that the developers would need to go through several processes before the property could be rezoned from its existing use to R-20, a residential designation that city officials say allows for schools to be built with a special use permit.  The property also would need to be annexed in order to have city water and sewer service extended to the site.

The site plan underwent the first of several required reviews by the city’s technical review committee (TRC) last week, Mebane officials told the newspaper Tuesday.  The city will also have to hold three public hearings on the proposal, and a traffic impact analysis (TIA) will need to be submitted for approval by the state Department of Transportation, Mebane city officials said Tuesday.

The proposed site is currently owned by Deborah Neese Hawkins of Stuart, Virginia, according to Orange County’s Register of Deeds.  The latest appraised value for the property is listed at $123,308, according to Orange County tax records, which show that the current owner, Hawkins, is receiving an agricultural tax credit of $113,457, reducing the actual assessed value for the property to $9,851.

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The land between West Ten Road (at top) and Rock Quarry Road (bottom right) where new charter high school is planned.

While the materials submitted to the city give the name of the proposed school as “Western Triangle High School,” documents that the school’s founders have submitted for the latest monthly meeting of the Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB) list the name of the proposed charter school as “West Triangle High School.”


Overview of the preliminary site plan

If the proposed site plan for the charter school were to be approved by Mebane’s planning board and city council, it would still need to undergo construction plan reviews and approvals, city officials said, emphasizing that the site plan is very preliminary at this point.

The few details in the plan that has been filed with the city show that the school building itself would be constructed on 14.3 acres of the 15.7-acre site, though a portion of the land could be set aside for a future school gymnasium.  The school would have 228 parking spaces, of which 10 would be handicap-accessible, and 11 individual bike racks.  The preliminary site plan appears to show three entrances at the front of the charter high school.

The school site would have front setbacks of 30 feet; rear setbacks of 25 feet; and side setbacks totaling 10 feet.

The property would also have a “streetscape landscape buffer” of 30 feet, with one canopy tree for every 40 linear feet (or about 30 canopy trees), plus approximately 60 “understory ornamental trees” and various shrubs, as well as multiple landscape plantings between the roadway and the parking lot at the front of the school.

The backside of the school, along Rock Quarry Road, would have 31 canopy trees and approximately 63 understory ornamental trees.  The site would have three entrance lanes and an exit lane, as well as parking for 144 vehicles behind the school and a separate entrance and exit for school buses.

The preliminary site plan also calls for the future construction of a soccer field near the intersection of Buchanan Drive with West Ten Road.

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