New Albany News

ARB approves waivers for 'green' energy learning center

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The New Albany Architectural Review Board on Nov. 14 approved waivers for the New Albany-Plain Local School District to install a "green" energy education center on the district campus.

"I got the sense that two or three of the board members had seen the house at one of its previous locations and they know that it's a cool building and what a great asset it is," said Ken Stark, the school district's director of operations.

The ARB voted 3-0 in favor of the application, with Chairman Bernard Costantino abstaining because of his affiliation with Ohio State University. Board members Alan Hinson, Kim Comisar and Shirli Billings voted in favor. Jonathan Iten, Brian Nebozuk and Randolph Pierce were absent.

The renewable-energy education center was built by Ohio State University students in the College of Engineering and Knowlton School of Architecture. It has solar panels and will operate self-sufficiently, not requiring other power sources.

The center also has a radiant heating system in the floor and a natural waste-disposal unit. It is valued at $300,000.

The district has received a $50,000 grant from the Easton Community Foundation for the cost to relocate and reassemble the modular building and connect it to all utilities, most importantly electricity.

Bill Resch, the school district's environmental consultant, said it will produce "equal or more energy than it consumes."

Resch said the building will be used by students in all grades.

The ARB approved waivers because:

* The building was not designed in a traditional architectural style.

* It will be installed nine feet from the property line instead of the 20 feet required by city code.

* Bicycle parking is required but the rest of the school district campus already has plenty of bicycle parking.

The site is screened from the road by natural features and other buildings on the district campus. It will be located northwest of the high school football stadium and south of the athletics fields near the Plain Township Aquatic Center.

The building is in a "relatively inconspicuous location to the general public" and, while not in compliance with design guidelines, has minimal impact because it "is essentially an accessory structure to the main buildings" on the school district campus, "located away from public roadways, buffered from public view by buildings and great distance from the street," according to the staff report to the ARB.

In other business, at the request of district officials, the ARB tabled an application from the district to change local school signs.

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