NEW CASTLE Neighbors appeal council's decisions

City officials accepted a $510,455 bid for work on a new sewage line.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City council approved plans to extend and widen a street and add more parking near the city high school.
Now the matter will go to Lawrence County Common Pleas Court as part of an appeal filed by neighbors of a planned city school. The neighbors oppose the city's earlier decision to give the district a conditional-use permit for its new building and to close Reis Street.
A court hearing on the street closing is planned for Aug. 31 and a hearing on the permit is set for Sept. 24. Both are before Judge J. Craig Cox.
Council's decision Tuesday was part of a court-ordered hearing by Judge Cox to help resolve safety issues near the proposed school building.
Campus style: School board members want to raze the three-story school and build a one-story school in its place. Several nearby homes were taken by the district to accommodate the campus-style building.
Those plans were opposed, however, by fire chief James Donston because access to homes behind the school was limited. School officials had asked that Reis Street, the most direct access to the homes, be closed and had planned to construct a private driveway in the new school's rear.
School officials revamped their plans after the matter went to court and agreed to extend Berger Place, which now ends at Reis Street, to East Street and eliminate the private school driveway that also would have intersected with East Street.
Donston said last week the revised plan will give emergency vehicles enough access to the homes behind the school.
Approval: Council members Patricia May, Robert Bullano and Richard DeBlasio voted to approve the new conditional-use permit. Council members Stephen Vitale and Mark Elisco were not present at the special meeting.
May said after the meeting that she still favors renovating the high school or keeping a new one in the footprint of the current building, but those things didn't factor into her decision on the conditional use permit.
"I've always supported remodeling the school, but that's not what I'm here for. I'm charged by the voters to uphold the law. If the fire chief says it's fine then there's nothing I can do," she said.
Sewer line: In other business, council members accepted a $510,455 bid from G.B. Sand Co. of New Castle to work on the first phase of a new sewer line.
G.B. Sand will install the main trunk line from Boyles Avenue to the Shenango River. A second phase of the project, which will be done later, will take that sewage trunk line to the treatment plant on state Route 18.
Work on the first phase should start sometime in late August and be done by the end of the year, said Ted Saad, assistant to Mayor Timothy Fulkerson.
The work is part of a plan to correct longstanding sewage overflow problems, which resulted in citations from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Saad said. A bond issue will pay for the work, he added.

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