Planners OK parking request for college

Action taken Tuesday by the Salina Planning Commission puts Brown Mackie College of Salina on the path to offering a new veterinary technician vocational training program.

Brown Mackie is seeking to lease space for the program, to include office space, classrooms and lab space, in an office building in front of the Reserves at Prairie Glen Apartments, 2515 S. Ohio, across from Jerry Ivey Park.

Planning commissioners approved a zoning amendment expanding permitted uses of the office complex to include business schools and small animal clinics.

Salina city commissioners also must approve the amendment.

The request was made by Salina Building Co., which bought the 12,000-square-foot office building from the original apartment complex developers, Overland Ventures, of Overland Park.

City planners were concerned about parking at the complex. Mike Bostater, president of Salina Building Co., said there is an agreement with First Southern Baptist Church, 2401 S. Ohio, to use 45 parking spaces in its lot for the clinic's students. The office complex has 46 spaces.

"That takes us to a little more than eight parking places per 1,000 square feet. That's an incredibly high number for most uses," Bostater said.

By separating the parking, any traffic bottlenecks when students are arriving or departing classes should be minimized, he said.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the zoning amendment, agreeing to waive a condition that shared off-site parking be located within a distance of 600 feet from the office suite. The distance from the office suite to the church parking lot is about 900 feet, but there is sidewalk access, said Dean Andrew, the city's director of planning.

Salina Building Co.'s zoning application will be considered Dec. 7 by city commissioners, he said.

Also Tuesday, the planning commission voted to recommend to the city commission an amendment to regulations that would add building supply stores and lumberyards, business schools, department and discount stores, and food stores and delicatessens to the list of permitted conditional uses in the South Ninth Street retail corridor.

The amendment was requested by landowner Norm Riffel concerning property that was formerly part of a ramp area between Interstate Highway 135 and South Ninth Street. The property was abandoned in the mid-1990s after the opening of the Schilling Road interchange. The change was requested to help prepare for future development of the property, Andrew told commissioners.

Wireless towers approved

Planning commissioners Tuesday also approved applications on behalf of Verizon Wireless for the construction of two cellular communication towers through leases with the Salina School District. One 130-foot tower, with stadium lights mounted on it, would replace an existing 90-foot light pole at the southwest corner of Salina Stadium, near Salina Central High School.

The other 120-foot-foot tower would be constructed 450 feet west of Salina South High School, 730 E. Magnolia. The tower could serve as a light pole as part of a future field-lighting project. The recommendations from the planning commissioners concerning the towers will be presented to city commissioners for consideration.

There was some discussion by commissioners about the threat of the towers attracting lightning. Glenn Skulborstad, a retired South High teacher and coach, raised questions about the locations putting students in jeopardy.

"What's the almighty dollar worth?" Skulborstad asked commissioners. "You can't buy a child's life."

Trevor Wood, representing Selective Site Consultants, an agent for Verizon, said the towers are fully grounded so that were a bolt of lightning to strike, the energy would be directed into the ground. He said schools in other locations in the Midwest and across the country have similar cell tower lease agreements.

Road closure approved

Commissioners Tuesday also gave approval to a petition filed by landowner Roberta Kaufman to close a portion of Cypress Street from Willow Drive to Commanche Avenue. Cypress Street is a block south of West Crawford Street, adjacent to Centennial Park. The recommendation from the planning commission now goes to the city commission.

The purpose of the request is for Kaufman to acquire land to expand the commercial lots she owns along Crawford Street to allow for future redevelopment. In return, Kaufman is proposing to pay for the design and construction of an extension of Birch Drive to Crawford Street.

-- Reporter David Clouston can be reached at 822-1403 or by e-mail at dclouston@salina.com.

Credit: The Salina Journal, Kan.

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