BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board has unanimously approved plans for a new elementary school that will replace aging facilities in the town.

The $28 million school will be located on the site of the former Jordan Acres school. Built in 1973, the older school has been closed since 2011 because of budget concerns.

Last week’s Planning Board approval came after a special permit for the project was granted in January, allowing the school to be built in the GR8 zoning district. Brunswick had 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 kindergarten through second grade, but could expand to other grades. The school has not been named yet.

Jordan Acres was initially designed for 450 to 475 students. Research by the developers of the new school found that in 1990, Jordan Acres was housing up to 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 property from the driveway on the eastern side. The opposite road, Charles Court, then served as both an inlet and outlet for car traffic, and as the outlet for bus traffic.

The new proposal reroutes traffic to avoid sending school buses onto Charles Court. Buses will use the main driveway onto 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,” Keck said.

Neighborhood concerns primarily amounted to questions about noise mitigation and whether the school would have a 6-foot-high opaque fence around its entirety. Brunswick’s new code indicates a 6-foot fence around a special use is the preferred option as a neighborhood protection standard.

Planning Board Chairman Charles Frizzle said the code gives the board some discretion when deciding whether to enforce fencing requirements.

“The neighbors’ 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 backyard, 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 wants the 6-foot-high fence along the school border.

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 praised the project review process, which they indicated went smoothly, with the help of the developer.

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

A major goal is to construct a building “that will feel relevant through the ages.”

The school proposal now goes to the Town Council for final review.

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