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Plans for Upland charter school met with questions, criticism

Nearly 50 Upland residents were present when testimony was given to the zoning board concerning a proposed neighborhood charter school. The second of two informational meetings was held to allow zoning board members and residents to voice opinions and ask questions about the project. A final decision on the Chester Community Charter School's request to build a school in an R-1 residential zone was expected to be made a few weeks after this meeting.

Legal counsel for the zoning board clarified the definition of the charter school's "special exception" request. The attorney said approval would allow CCCS to build in an area not normally zoned for school use, if doing so would not be "injurious" to residents.

The proposal for the school on a one-acre plot at 11th and Main Streets was detailed through several hours of testimony given by experts. Neighbors raised concerns over the additional burden the school would place on the local sewer system. They asked how the school would affect the district's taxes and about the academic track records of students in other CCCS schools. Neighbors wanted to know about the proposed 40 parking spots and the possibility of light overspill from the campus at night.

Residents who live closest to the proposed charter school felt the changes in traffic for the neighborhood could have the most effect. More than 300 students and 35 staff members would attend the campus on weekdays.

CCCS officials said the charter school plans to have two student buses and an off-street drop off location. The bulk of students are expected to live within walking distance.

The MacQueen Hall zoning meeting was the last before a final vote on the school's request. If approved, the charter school will advance its plan to the borough planning commission. The last hurdle before construction would be the borough council.

Source: delcotimes.com, "Big crowd turns out for Upland hearing on charter school," Kenn Stark, Nov. 8, 2011

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