With the development of Tanner Plantation and other neighborhoods on the east side of the Goose Creek Reservoir in the last few years, Hanahan schools have reached capacity and then some.
As a result, about 60 percent of those who voted in the November 2012 election supported a tax hike that would pay for, among other things, a new $28 million school in the Tanner Plantation area.
"I am excited about the opportunity of having a new school in Hanahan," Mayor Minnie Newman-Caldwell said last week. "I supported the Yes 4 Schools campaign, and when I did, I was giving my word that I was going to stand up for children. . It is our schools and our children that are the heart of our community, and our future."
Since the 1990s, Hanahan officials have appealed to the school board to keep all of Hanahan's children together. Currently some children attend nearby Goose Creek Primary while high school students from Daniel Island are bused to Hanahan High.
Now the problem is finding a suitable location for that 900-student elementary within the limits of a city that has little available land.
Berkeley County School Superintendent Rodney Thompson said many of the remaining undeveloped tracts in city limits are heirs properties and the owners aren't interested in selling, limiting the available options.
The district has looked at several sites and settled on a nearly 11-acre tract that is part of a 90-acre Planned Unit Development known as Bowen Village. In November, the Hanahan planning commission unanimously denied a request to rezone the land from multifamily to Village Community One to accommodate the school.
The request is scheduled to be considered by Hanahan City Council at a meeting on Tuesday.
At two public hearings last week, one of which lasted four hours, residents were split on whether the Bowen site is the best option.
"The good news is when we get through all this there will be a new school in the city of Hanahan," said city administrator Johnny Cribb.
Among the sites discussed:
Adjacent to Hanahan Elementary School
The district already owns the land and parking is plentiful because it's adjacent to city recreational facilities.
Why it was eliminated:
The referendum asked voters if they wanted a school in "Tanner Plantation area," which this site is not, so the district cannot use referendum money to built there.
28-acre tract on the Goose Creek Reservoir
The site is large enough and district officials originally thought it had potential. The school board voted in June to pursue a purchase and sale agreement with Charleston Water System, but the district did due diligence on the site and realized it was not a viable location.
Why it was eliminated:
Adjacent property owners did not want the school there.
Building on the site would mean a loss of conservation preservation property
The tract has wetlands and water issues, limiting its use.
It's in the airport's Accident Potential Zone II, meaning its under the flight path.
Hanahan officials said they have been preparing since 2007 for a school at this location, where the city owns 42 acres straddling Williams Lane. Current plans are to build a passive park on one side and an athletic complex on the other.
Local and state agencies, including the South Carolina Department of Transportation, also "think that's a great site," said city councilman Michael Sally.
"I think we can make this site work and I think we can make it work because we've been planning on it the last six years," Sally said. "We've been planning on that, and now there's been an about face. I think the Williams Lane site is the best site."
Hanahan High School recently secured a $350,000 grant to build a walking trail from the Bi-Lo at the entrance to Tanner Plantation to the proposed fields.
Why it was eliminated:
The site is elongated, and district officials feel it would not adequately would meet state requirements for separate car-rider and bus-rider access. In addition, although the tract is 21 acres, only about half of it is highland, limiting usable space.
Area residents, many whose families have owned the land for centuries, have declined to sell additional land to the district.
Bowen is the district's top choice.
"We've looked at all the sites," said Ben Thompson, an architect with AAG Associates, who is designing the school. "I believe, based on the available property, based on the physical constraints, based on the traffic, based on the comments that we've heard, the Bowen Village property is the best property. It meets the requirements and is an adequate site."
The current PUD allows schools on part of the tract, but not on the 10.88-acre portion where the school district wants to build.
"The question is: Can we use a better location within this planned development for the location of a school?" Thompson said.
Drawbacks include that the size requires a two-story building and leaves little space for parking and outdoor play and learning areas.
In addition, many people have concerns about traffic in an area that already has issues and questioned whether the site will be accessibility for those who would have to cross those streets.
"Once the school is built there, we will be left with a school kids cannot walk or ride their bike to," Sallly said. "We will be left with roads that need major improvement. "
Building a school on the land will also mean less development, costing the district loss of revenue from impact fees, taxes, and business licenses.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
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