Northland News

Architectural review

New Albany board again signs off on Marburn Academy

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The New Albany Architectural Review Board on Sept. 9 again voted in favor of a certificate of appropriateness for Marburn Academy, despite more protests from a neighbor about increased traffic.

The review board first approved a certificate of appropriateness for the 54,000-square-foot building June 10, on the condition that board members review the application again after a traffic study of the site was completed. The new school building is planned north of Griswold Drive and west of Johnstown Road near state Route 161 in New Albany.

However, the condition was disputed by City Attorney Mitch Banchefsky, who issued an opinion before the Sept. 9 meeting, stating the review board "does not have jurisdiction to consider or condition approval on off-site traffic issues."

In the Sept. 9 staff report prepared for the board, Banchefsky listed the board's review criteria, which are:

* Distinguishing qualities of the building, structure, site, historic material, distinctive architectural or environmental features.

* Historical architecture.

* Distinctive stylistic features and craftsmanship.

* Potential damage to historical elements by surface cleaning.

* New structural additions or alterations to structures that need to be removed without damage to the original structure.

* Documentation and use of the same architectural features.

Resident Lee Wiegand, who lives on Notting Hill Drive in the Windsor subdivision, disputed Banchefsky's opinion Sept. 9.

Wiegand said City Ordinance 1157.02 states the "scope of review includes the impact of changes so that the ARB can protect established character" and another states "the purpose of the architectural review (board) is to protect and preserve these assets, by regulating the architectural characteristics of structures and their surroundings ..."

Wiegand also questioned road visibility at Griswold Drive and Thurston Hall, which he said already is blocked by houses, street trees and on-street parking.

Wiegand tried to appeal the board's June 10 conditional approval, based on his concerns about traffic the academy would generate. He said Banchefsky denied the appeal until final board approval was given, so he withdrew the appeal.

Wiegand and other Windsor subdivision residents who spoke June 10 said they are concerned about buses and parents dropping off students at the academy because their neighborhood was designed for single-family homes and has narrow streets and alleys behind homes.

"With the way the streets are laid out, this is not a good situation nor, in my belief, safe," Wiegand said Sept. 9.

The traffic study compared the amount of traffic the school would generate to what the 88 homes planned for that subdivision would have generated.

Adrienne Joly, New Albany's deputy community development director, said city officials visited the current Marburn Academy building at 1860 Walden Drive in north Columbus during school hours to see how the faculty handles the limitations of its current site.

The visit revealed the Marburn Academy staff members could control vehicles entering and exiting the site.

In addition, the traffic study showed the building site would have enough room for cars to line up without stacking on residential streets, according to the staff report.

The study also said the site includes enough parking for the school day and for special events.

However, Joly said, the city might have to limit on-street parking during school hours to improve visibility for buses and cars leaving the site.

The board voted 5-0 -- with Bernie Costantino abstaining -- in favor of the certificate of appropriateness.

The approval includes previous conditions placed on the project and a new condition that all requirements related to the traffic study be met.

Costantino said he abstained because a family member is associated with the project.

Shirli Billings, Kim Comisar, Alan Hinson, Jonathan Iten and Lewis Smoot Jr. voted in favor of the certificate. Brian Nebozuk did not attend the meeting.

Marburn Academy has 178 students from 26 school districts. The New Albany site could accommodate 250 students, academy officials have said.

Marburn Academy was founded in 1981 and teaches students with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities

Marburn Academy charges $23,800 a year for high school students and $22,500 a year for younger students.

Academy officials are expected to invest $9.2 million to build the new facility in New Albany.

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