Public opinion sought on new middle school height

By Staff | Nov 07, 2017
This Oak Point Associates rendering shows the relative heights of sections of the new Camden-Rockport Middle School building proposed for Knowlton Street in Camden.

CAMDEN — The Camden Planning Board will meet Thursday, Nov. 9,  to seek public comment on a proposed zoning change to increase the maximum building height allowed on the Camden-Rockport Middle School property on Knowlton Street.

A meeting was also held Nov. 2 regarding a request by SAD 28 to increase the allowable building height to 38 feet in the Traditional Village District on lots where public schools existed as of 2017. This change is requested to accommodate the proposed design of the new middle school.

Current zoning in this district limits maximum building height to 30 feet. The 38-foot height limit would apply only to the current CRMS property.

The existing CRMS structure on Knowlton Street consists of multiple buildings, and portions of the school already exceed the height limit of 30 feet. The Mary E. Taylor building, built in the 1920s, exceeds the height standard, at 41 feet. The school's gymnasium is 31 feet high.

An Oct. 6 memo from Oak Point Associates, the Biddeford architectural firm that designed the new middle school facility, says that to meet the current height restriction, "the rear classroom wing of the building would need to be lowered, resulting in stairs within the main corridor. These stairs will make the corridor more difficult to monitor, make accessibility more challenging and increase the overall construction cost of the project."

The rear portion of the building is where the school's academic wing will be; it is planned to have a maximum height of 35 feet at its tallest point. Oak Point says the three-story wing was intentionally sited at the rear of the building, using the descending change in grade from Knowlton Street to reduce the visual impact on the residential side of the road.

Any change to Camden's Zoning Ordinance would require voter approval. The Planning Board's Nov. 9 public hearing will be held at 5 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room.

The Nov. 9 meeting can be watched live at Town Hall Streams, or at a later time, and the Nov. 2 meeting can also be viewed by going to townhallstreams.com/towns/camden_me.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Nov 07, 2017 20:19

How much will it cost if the plans have to be redrawn? Great planning on the ark-eye-tecks part. Not!



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