The School District is one step closer toward its plan to build a new middle school for fifth- and six-graders in west Fayetteville.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a rezoning request for about 23 acres on the east side of Rupple Road near the second of three roundabouts between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Wedington Drive.
The land was previously zoned as a mix of form-based zonings that included CS-Community Services near the road and NC-Neighborhood Conservation at the back of the property closer to the base of Millsap Mountain.
Schools are allowed under the CS zoning and through a conditional use permit with NC, but the School District requested the area be rezoned as P1-Institutional.
When the project was initially presented to the council earlier this month, the discussion was first focused on how close the building should be to the street.
Form-based zones like CS require buildings to be constructed next to the street with parking lots in the back. The requested P1 zoning places buildings 50 feet from the road with a parking lot in between, which is how the new school was designed.
Some council members and residents who spoke at the Jan. 7 meeting said the city has had a longtime vision for Rupple Road that includes form-based zones with walkable environments, and veering from that vision for the project could set a bad precedent, even if it’s for a public school. Others disagreed and said an institutional zoning is totally appropriate for a school.
Superintendent John L. Colbert said changing the zoning would delay the project, which was part of a bond restructuring that voters approved last February, and must be obligated by 2023.
The discussion then turned to safety and whether the school’s design could incorporate features to slow speeding traffic along Rupple Road.
Colbert agreed to meet with the council’s Transportation Committee to explore possible solutions before a final decision on the rezoning. That meeting took place last Friday, and according to district officials and committee members, it led to an agreement.
Megan Duncan, the school district’s associate superintendent for support services, showed the council a revised plan for the school.
The updated design includes landscaping features closer to the road, a narrowed parking lot and an outparcel along Rupple.
The outparcel includes about an acre of land fronting Rupple Road and will be reserved for some type of development allowed in the CS list of use units like dwellings, eating places, shops, offices, etc.
Duncan said the outparcel would initially include open space, and that any development would require approval from the School Board.