Kent residents oppose street relocation

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The commission held a public hearing Tuesday to discuss site plans for the school to be located on Hudson Road adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt High School.

Plans call for part of the driveway linking Hudson Road and North Mantua Street to be relocated to line up with Robert Drive, instead of its existing exit point between Allen Drive and McKinney Boulevard. The road would access the main parking lot for the middle school. A separate circular drive at the school entrance would serve as a place for parents to pick up and drop off students.

Several Robert Drive residents expressed concern about the plans, fearing it would lead to increased traffic on their narrow, unimproved street. Already, they said, high school students frequently use their road as a shortcut to Fairchild Avenue.

"Our street cannot even handle the traffic that is there now," said Bob Dietrich. "I'm fearing I'll be asked to pay a $20,000 assessment to improve my street because of this."

They also cited concerns about increased foot traffic, problems arising from students walking through their yards and more vandalism.

"You need to reroute this to put it between the streets instead of lining it up with Robert Drive," said John Hall, adding that aligning the driveway with Robert Drive would lead to "a war zone" in his neighborhood.

The debate was finally resolved when traffic engineer Perry Ricciardi suggested a "raised median" which would force those exiting the driveway to turn right or left instead of coming straight through the intersection to Robert Drive.

But the commission voted to delay a vote after commission member George Donoghue raised a legal question. He said the plans may violate a code forbidding driveways within 200 feet of an intersection. He also objected to a lack of additional traffic signals on Hudson Drive.

Because there were only three planning commission members at Tuesday's meeting, a unanimous vote would have been needed for approval.

Plans Administrator Gary Locke said the city's planning staff interpreted the code Donoghue cited differently, believing a driveway that lines up with an intersection is permitted. Assistant Law Director Thomas Reitz said he would research the issue before the commission's Aug. 19 meeting.

Ricciardi said a traffic study indicates an additional traffic light is not warranted and may cause more traffic problems than it solves.

Superintendent Marc Crail said the concerns Donoghue cited should have been brought up sooner and pointed to the traffic study as proof a signal is not warranted.

"Are we acting on opinions or data?" he said. "This is a costly delay."

In other business, the commission:

Approved a requested expansion by Sealmaster Corporation on Martinel Drive. The new building, which would contain 5,250 square feet of office space and 27,550 square feet of industrial space, would be Sealmaster's fourth plant on the site, said company president Edward L. Bittle.

Bittle said construction on the building would begin next spring, and parking lot and storm water improvements would be made immediately. He estimated the new plant will result in adding about 50 jobs to the company's existing workforce of 110.

Recommended to Kent City Council that the former Central Maintenance garage on Mogadore Road be rezoned to industrial so it can be rented out. Resident George Sacco is negotiating with the city to lease the building for his pottery school, because the city no longer uses the whole building. Council must give the zoning change final approval.

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