State College

Borough Council holds public hearing on proposed high-rise’s application for conditional use

According to land development plans, a proposed 447,000-square-foot complex is a 12-story, mixed-use building set at the intersection of West College Avenue and South Atherton Street.
According to land development plans, a proposed 447,000-square-foot complex is a 12-story, mixed-use building set at the intersection of West College Avenue and South Atherton Street. Centre Daily Times, file

A public hearing was held Monday on the application for a conditional use for the development of The Residences at College and Atherton.

State College Borough Council must either approve or deny the application within 45 days of the hearing.

The proposed high-rise would sit at the corner of West College Avenue and South Atherton Street, with two floors designated for nonresidential use and 10 floors for residential.

Brandt Stiles, principal and co-founder of St. Louis developer Collegiate Development Group, said the developer met with the borough’s planning department on Aug. 22 to talk about the project and that site in particular.

A preliminary land development plan was submitted on Dec. 20 and two days later the developer also submitted the conditional use application, Stiles said.

A revised preliminary land development plan was submitted on Jan. 27, he said.

Air quality was among the issues brought up during the three-hour public meeting.

John Carter, vice president at CPP — a company that provides wind engineering services and air quality consulting — presented the results of a report he and several colleagues did on behalf of CDG.

They were tasked with considering the effects of the nearby Penn State West Campus Steam Plant boilers’ emissions on the air quality at the project site — both as if the project were not built and how it would affect the local environment if it is built, Carter said.

Carter said they looked at two natural gas boilers at the plant, which emit 49 million Btu/hr, and looked at nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide as pollutants.

If the building were built, “we do see an increase (of air pollution) at ground level, however, it’s still well below the ambient air quality standards,” he said.

Mark Huncik, a resident of the borough and independent environmental consultant, said he was honored to see Carter at the hearing and that he brings a wealth of knowledge.

He said, though, that he wanted to bring a few items to council’s attention.

The plant is made up of four boilers, not two, he said, adding that those other boilers operate at 198 million Btu/hr.

For that reason, CPP’s analysis is not complete, said Huncik, who received a degree in meteorology from Penn State.

In addition to that, the results didn’t add in the background air quality, he said.

“There are inherently background concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air we breathe. Just like there’s background concentrations of particulate carbon monoxide, CO2, you name it,” Huncik said.

Adding in the background air quality to CPP’s results — which he emphasized are only part results — it’s essentially at the air quality standard already, Huncik said.

“There are some significant shortcomings of the analysis that I think could have been avoided if this whole process would’ve been more collaborative,” he said.

Council will review the testimony from the hearing at its March 6 meeting.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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