State College

Ferguson Township approves Young Scholars land development plan

The Board of Supervisors approved a Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School land development plan to add new classrooms on a new second level of the school building as well as smooth the flow of on-site traffic.

The township planning commission initially reviewed the plan April 25, planning and zoning Director Ray Stolinas said Monday. It involves the construction of a second story to host the classrooms, 10 new parking spaces and a revised driveway to better accommodate drop off and pickup for buses and parents.

Stahl Sheaffer Engineering representative Robin Froehlich presented the plan, noting that the primary entrance and exit for the school will remain along Westerly Parkway. Right now, she said, the school has a loop driveway that allows buses and personal vehicles to enter, loop around the front of the school for pickup or drop-off, and exit.

Proposed is a new parent drop-off/pickup lane, she said, which would travel around the south end of the building to the eastern side where parents would take their children during peak traffic hours. Buses would continue to use the existing loop.

The new second story would be added to the southern end of the building, she said, and would include six new classrooms, office space and general meeting space.

There are 344 students currently enrolled at the school, she said. A traffic study done for the plan accounts for 40 new students to be added to the enrollment number, bringing a total of 384 students allowed under the new plan.

One planning commission concern, according to Stolinas, included accounting for the potential 500-student occupancy at the school in the traffic impact study. The development plan was prepared in conjunction with a traffic impact study from April 11. Any proposed increase, he said, will require a future traffic study along with any required traffic improvements.

Vice Chairman Peter Buckland proposed an agreement that the school will report enrollment numbers to the township by October of each year. If enrollment exceeds 384, a new study will be initiated.

Young Scholars CEO Levent Kaya agreed to the enrollment report request.

Supervisor Laura Dininni expressed her concern for traffic control recommendations at the school, specifically citing a sign prohibiting left turns leaving the school during the hours of 8-9 a.m. and 3-5:15 p.m.

“When folks are leaving school, they turn right, then turn left into Conover Lane and turn around in people’s driveways,” Dininni said. “It’s legal, but why can’t people go anywhere else?”

Kaya explained that when a car is trying to turn left when exiting, it can back up traffic in the loop, which in turn causes a problem on Westerly Parkway. He admitted that not everyone follows the sign’s directions.

Township engineer Ron Seybert reported that the sign is not effective, saying that drivers turning right and left out of the school is about a 50/50 split. Also, no turn restrictions were included in the traffic study.

“If the sign is not on the plan with the turn restrictions, then it should not be there,” he said. “Now is the opportunity to clarify that.”

Dininni motioned to amend the plan to include the removal of the sign. The amendment was unanimously passed.

The land development plan was also unanimously approved.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews