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Board Gives Nod to Two Rivers School Plan

The board of education voted in favor of a concept plan for an elementary school south of the Waugh Chapel Towne Centre.

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted in favor of a concept plan for a new developer-funded elementary school, allowing the school system to enter into negotiations with the builders of the Preserve at Two Rivers project.

By a 5-4 vote, the board gave a nod to plans by Koch Homes and Classic Communities Corp. to construct a $38 million elementary school just south of the Waugh Chapel Towne Centre.

School officials are now permitted to enter into negotiations for a construction agreement.

The school board was not originally scheduled to vote on the plan Wednesday. But after hearing testimony from school and community officials, members asked that it be brought to a vote. They narrowly approved the measure, with board president Andrew Pruski and members Stacy Korbelak, Deborah Ritchie and Teresa Milio Birge casting “no” votes. The five other board members said they believed the school would help the school system deal with a growing student population without taking on new construction costs.

“What is the downside? I’m looking at a $38 million elementary school when we need facilities,” said board member Patricia Nalley.

Developers have proposed building the elementary school to accommodate 2,060 new homes at the Preserve at Two Rivers. School system leaders had endorsed the plan because the school would also accommodate students from other future developments nearby.

“I do honestly believe, both as an individual and an employee of this school district that this school will provide an immense benefit,” chief operating Alex Szachnowicz said.

School officials said the matter will come to the board again before any construction can take place.

“There will be multiple opportunities for this board to reconsider,” Szachnowicz said.

Some members of the community, including representatives of Piney Orchard, had opposed the plan and urged the board to postpone their vote until at least September. They have raised a series of concerns, including impact of a proposed extension of Evergreen Road, proximity to industrial operations, and the potential for long bus routes.

Jeff Andrade, president of the Piney Orchard Community Association, urged the board to postpone a vote because some community groups, including the Greater Crofton Council, had not been formally briefed on the plan. Meanwhile, the Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association (FOTPIA) remained in negotiations with the developers regarding changes in the covenant agreements to lift an age-restriction on the homes.

There is some debate over what that current covenant agreement allows. Pages 5 and 6 of the covenant agreement state that the age-restriction can be lifted only if the development complies with RA zoning, which only allows for one home for every 20 acres. But Michael Leahy, an attorney for the developers, said that if a new deal isn't reached, the developers can still move forward with homes complying with uses allowed in R1 zoning.

Developers and school officials are scheduled to meet with FOTPIA on Aug. 27.

“To try and ram this through to a vote is not in the best interests of the county,” said Andrade. “This issue is not ripe.”

For comprehensive coverage of the Two Rivers proposal, check out the Two Rivers Topics Page.

Patrick H. September 08, 2012 at 03:41 AM
%Karen Q. - Don't lower yourself Jeff's level. His rantings are the best thing that has happened to Piney Orchard. Even his backers are backing away from him. His animosity and anger are escalating and he is self-destructing. I agree completley with your assessment of the situation and wonder why commentators are not filing formal complaints with The PATCH (a google search will show you how to complain to corporate HQ) about him and Mr. Lemke's refusal to protect the integrity of this blog. If I see one more attack I will have my attorneies deal with it. It's unfortunate that his rantings have diminished any and everything he may have said about the new development, the roads, the proposed school, the B & A trail and other issues that were the point of this article. He apparently believes everyone is out to get him thus his focus on accessing 'troll accounts'. What is a troll? Do you think that a formal complaint to the POCA Board of Directors and served on POCAs attorney would warrant a story by Mr. Lemke? Ignore Jeff and file a complaint with PATCH Corporate in NYC if you want to put him in his place. Until he responds to the questions asked of him he doesn't deserve a response to his questions. Do you really think Hitler is a good comparison to Jeff? How does everyone else feel about this? Take care, have a great weekend and let's work together to have real fairness. God Bless
Patrick H. September 08, 2012 at 07:21 PM
For those that have not heard Senator Rosapepp and a member of the school board are scheduled to be at the Waugh Chapel Safeway from 1-3 tomorrow. I am not sure which school board member will be there but I believe it is one that lives in Piney Orchard. It might be interesting to stop by and let them know your feelings on the Board Vote and just whom they are being pressured by. Also a good time to ask the Senator what his rationale was for voting for the casino at National Harbor when statistics show it will cost AA County 24 million is projected revenues.
Karen Q. September 09, 2012 at 02:23 PM
That's great Patrick H. How convenient of him to be at a location that is not even in his legislative district on a football Sunday between 1 and 3. I can think of about 1,000 better things that I can be doing on Sunday between 1 and 3, including watching the Redskins lose.
Patrick H. September 09, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I've always trusted Jim and his delegation in the past. Although it appears as if we here in AA County are being treated as step-children and allowing our pockets to be picked so that PG can be favored I am sure Jim will come through with a reasonable explanation. I've been wrong in the past about whom I've put my trust and faith in - I hope I'm not wrong about Jim. I'm waiting to hear from him via a written statement to all of us.
Patrick H. September 09, 2012 at 11:51 PM
%Karen Q. - I've know Jim for a long time and he, as well as other frineds of mine, were one of the reasons I decided to re-locate to this area. Let's hope he has an understandable answer.

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