Aston commissioners, last week, in a 6-1 vote, approved the conditional use application of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit (DCIU) for expansion of the Delaware County Technical School (DCTS) on Crozerville Road.
The lone “no” vote was cast by Second Ward Commissioner Carol Graham, whose ward is where the DCTS is located. Graham said that even though she believes the agreement to be “the best possible,” her first responsibility is to her constituents.
“As commissioner it is my primary responsibility to be the voice of the residents of my ward and relay their wishes,” Graham said. “I listened intently to the comments made during the five hearings that were conducted. I received numerous telephone calls and even personal visits to my home about this issue. My duty is to represent the feelings of my ward, therefore I am voting no on this project.”
In a prepared statement, Aston special counsel Hugh Donaghue outlined the specifics of the project.
Donaghue said the DCIU filed a conditional use application with the commissioners in December, 2013 requesting land development and expanded school use. Professional consultants reviewed the proposal and revised plans were submitted.
“Five conditional use hearings were held, bringing parties to the realization that a settlement may be the best option,” Donaghue said.
DCIU agreed to exclude two programs initially proposed that dealt with students with overacting behaviors and students that had gone through the criminal justice system.
The maximum number of students in the secondary special education program, which encompasses ages 15-18, will be capped at 100.
The total population of the school will be limited to 1,175 including staff. One-half of the student population will attend the morning session and leave, and the other half will attend in the afternoon.
A contribution of $950,000 will be made for off-site improvements which includes construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Crozerville Road and Birney Highway. The bus access will be relocated from Spring Valley Road to Crozerville Road. Spring Valley Road will be used for parent drop-off and small van use only.
Donaghue said the main entrance exit on Crozerville Road has been moved closer to Birney Highway and the existing exit will be used for emergencies only. All bus traffic leaving will turn left onto Crozerville Road and proceed to Birney Highway.
There will also be enhancements to buffering at the rear of the existing building.
“Settlement agreements are never perfect,” Donaghue said. “Both sides had to make concessions. That is the nature of agreements. This case was unique in that two public entities, both of whom serve taxpayers of Delaware County, were involved in this controversy. We all have to realize that DCIU has the duty to protect its students as the Aston Board of Commissioners has the duty to protect the citizens.”
Donaghue recognized the commissioners, DCIU Board of Directors, its executive director, and all who were directly involved in the process. He made special mention of the residents, expressing appreciation for their contributions and patience.
Spring Valley resident Brian Matteo, who was involved with the process from the beginning, said he was not pleased with the end result, but understands that the settlement is the best the township could do under the circumstances.
“This was a difficult process,” Matteo said. “I appreciate that the commissioners and DCIU took the time to listen to our concerns and make changes to the original proposal.”
Throughout the process, residents expressed anxiety about increased traffic, a perceived decrease in home values and overall safety.