WJCC Schools Seeks City Planning Approval for Fourth Middle School

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This site plan for phases one and two of a fourth middle school to be built for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools was presented to the board of education Sept. 15, 2015. (Image courtesy of Waller, Todd & Sadler Architects)
This site plan for phases one and two of a fourth middle school to be built for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools was presented to the board of education Sept. 15, 2015. (Image courtesy of Waller, Todd & Sadler Architects)

The Williamsburg-James City County School Division will seek a recommendation of approval Wednesday afternoon from the city’s planning commission to construct a fourth middle school.

In a staff memo to the planning commission, Deputy Planning Director Carolyn Murphy writes the city’s planning staff encourages the commission to recommend approval of the requested special use permit, but only if certain traffic improvements are installed and if a height variance is approved before the second phase of the school is built.

The school division intends to build the fourth middle school at the site of the former James Blair Middle School in two phases: in the first phase, the existing building is demolished, with the exception of offices occupied by the WJCC Central Office, and a school accommodating 600 students is built. The second phase will involve the demolition of what remains of the existing building and an addition would be built to increase the school’s capacity to 900 students.

According to a traffic study completed by engineering consultant Kimley-Horn, the enrollment capacity of phase 1 should generate 324 new trips on roadways adjacent to the school during the morning peak hour and 180 peak trips in the afternoon. With the completion of phase 2, the total at peak increases to 486 during the morning and 270 in the afternoon.

Improvements identified in the study, some of which are already planned by the city, include realigning Longhill Road and a new intersection location within Ironbound Road; modifying the lanes at Ironbound at Longhill; and installing a traffic signal at the intersection.

The study notes the increases in traffic volume are nominal, so no physical capacity enhancements or improvements are proposed.

An approval of the height variance is not anticipated for several years, as work on phase two will not begin in the immediate future, the memo states.

The first phase is slated to be completed in 2018, while the second phase would be finished in 2023. Construction on the first phase could begin as early as September 2016.

The planning commission meeting will take place at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in the third floor conference room of the city’s Municipal Building.

Representatives from architectural firm Waller, Todd & Sadler are scheduled to provide an update on the middle school’s design during Tuesday’s WJCC School Board meeting.

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