Brunswick’s Planning Board gave unanimous approval Tuesday to plans for a new elementary school that will replace aging facilities in the town.

The as-of-yet unnamed $28 million elementary school will be located on the site of the former Jordan Acres school. Built in 1973, the older school has been shuttered since 2011 due to budgetary concerns.

The approval by the planning board comes in the wake of a special permit granted in January that allows the school to be built in the town’s GR8 zoning district. Brunswick approved new zoning ordinances in August that would normally limit any building in the GR8 zone to 5,000 square feet.

The 70,900 square foot building is designed to house 660 students in the Kindergarten-to-second-grade age range, with potential for changes to that age range in the future.

Jordan Acres was initially designed for 450 to 475 students. Investigations by the developers of the new school have found that in 1990, Jordan Acres was housing as many as 655 students.

“That’s five fewer students than what we have designed the new building for,” said Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects.

Some of the more major changes – aside from the building itself – are shifts in the traffic pattern at the future school. Previously, most bus and car traffic entered the premises from the driveway on the eastern side of the facility. The opposite road, Charles Court, then served as both an inlet and outlet for car traffic, and the outlet for bus traffic.

The new proposal re-routes traffic to avoid putting any school bus traffic onto Charles Court. Busses, and only busses, will use the main driveway on to Jordan Avenue, with cars using Charles Court.

“What we’re proposing to do is separate car traffic and bus traffic, we think that’s a much safer approach to designing this school,” said Keck.

Neighborhood concerns primarily amounted to questions about noise mitigation and whether the school would have a six-foot high opaque fence around its entirety. Brunswick’s new code indicates a six-foot fence around a special use is the preferred option as a neighborhood protection standard.

Charles Frizzle, chair of the planning board, said the code leaves the board some discretion when deciding on whether or not to enforce fencing requirements.

“The neighbor’s preferences should matter,” he said. “Given my reading of the ordinance, we have every right to approve that type of alternative if you will.”

Laurie Leder, who lives at 65 Jordan Ave., said one of her main concerns was noise from car and bus traffic. Her property is located right in between the ends of two proposed cul-de-sacs.

“My concerns were the traffic patterns, being in my back-yard, the sound and possible car-idling which may or may not be an issue,” she said. She requested additional vegetation as a buffer for noise, and also wanted the six-foot high fence along the border to the school.

Andrew Johnston, a civil engineer working on the project, said vegetation will likely not serve as an acoustic barrier.

“Unfortunately vegetation does not reduce sound, the best thing that reduces sound is mass,” he said. “The fence that is being proposed will reduce sound much more than the buffer.”

Board members gave significant praise to the process, which they indicated went smoothly thanks to the developer.

“I think this is the first application in a while that only required the boilerplate condition,” said board member Bill Dana.

Sarah Singer, a school board member, said they are thrilled to be moving forward with the project. “I believe it will be a benefit to the neighborhood,” she said.

A major goal of the school board, she added, is creating a building that will stand the test of time. “We are trying to build a building that will feel relevant through the ages.”

According to Town Planner Jared Woolston, the planning board process has been completed, and approval is now awaiting a final look by the town council.

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