SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION Wetlands won't cause a delay, architect says

AUSTINTOWN -- The school district is moving ahead with plans to build a $26 million middle school on South Raccoon Road.
A rumor is circulating in the township that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have refused to approve permits for the school construction because of a dispute over wetlands.
"That's not correct," stressed John DeFrance, an architect with the Youngstown firm of Olsavsky Jaminet, which is working on the project.
"Neither the EPA nor the Army Corps has thrown up any red flags... we don't have approval in our pocket, but it means we're likely to receive approval."
The school district needs permits from the Corps and the EPA because part of the new 174,000-square foot school is slated to be built on wetlands. Under state and federal regulations, the district must create wetlands in another area to replace the wetlands it will destroy.
Plans call for new wetlands to be created along Falcon Drive near the Fitch High School tennis courts.
The Ohio EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers did not return calls seeking comment
Schools Superintendent Stan Watson said workers are expected to begin clearing the land for the school before the end of this year.
The school is slated to open in 2006. In Nov. 2003 voters approved allowing school officials to borrow $26 million to pay for the school.

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