|Per Arizona Revised Statutes, public schools are not required to comply with the City’s land development regulations, other than building and fire codes. In 2016 ARS 15-189.01.B, was modified to grant charter schools the same exemption. Accordingly, because State Law now exempts charter schools from complying with zoning regulations, the following report is being presented as informational:
Grande Innovation Academy is currently operating with 455 students. The school is planning an expansion to bring to increase the enrollment from 455 students to 600 students. In order to accommodate their student population growth, the school is constructing additional facilities on their site.
The proposed expansion includes the addition of three new modular classroom buildings to accommodate 6 classrooms and a 4,983 square foot modular gymnasium building.
Prior to Grande Innovation Academy claiming their “exemption” status, City Staff performed a preliminary review of the project. Staff determined that the project appears to be in compliance with zoning codes. However, concern remains over the impact the additional traffic generated by the school will have on the creation of traffic congestion on Peart Rd.
Based on the Traffic Impact Analysis that was approved in 2013, with the Final Development Plan, there are existing traffic issues that are present today. The main concerns are as follows:
Staff finds that based on the site re-design and the information compiled by the Traffic Impact Analysis; it appears that the traffic issues will be addressed with the school expansion.
- Cars are parking along 9th Street and Peart at the Fire Station in the afternoon at pick up times
- Cars are backing up into the right turn lane of the site at pick up times
- Cars are making U-turns at 9th Street and Peart
Based on the proposed expansion and the above issues, a recent Traffic Impact Analysis was submitted to address these issues.
According to the Traffic Impact Analysis submitted by CivTech, dated June 19, 2017, the school has recently improved their circulation plan. Currently, the school provides two (2) queuing lanes traversing counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the parking lot for single child pick up in front of the school. The school recently added two (2) queuing lanes traversing counter-clockwise around the raised sidewalk at the northern perimeter of the parking lot for siblings’ pick-up.
The available queuing length of the queuing lanes is 1,125 feet for single child pick-up and 1,225 feet for siblings’ pick-up for a total of 2,350 feet. The pattern allows access for staff and visitors to the parking lot.
The school plans to add a second bus as well as provide a separate loading/unloading area for buses. Kindergarten students will be dismissed ½-hour earlier than the remainder of the students which will allow some parents to pick-up their child and leave before the school’s main pick-up occurs.
The school currently provides one (1) bus and plans to add a second bus with the expansion, including a separate bus loading/unloading area and turnaround. Each bus has the potential to transport up to 160 students (80 each), decreasing the number of parents in the queue. For analysis purposes, 80 students are discounted from the total queue (40 for each bus), which reduces the recommended internal storage length from 2,250 feet (90 vehicles) to 1,950 (78 vehicles).
With a total of 2,350 feet of queue storage available, the site would normally be anticipated to accommodate the expected on-site queueing during drop-off and pick-up operations. Recent observations have indicated that the school queuing currently works acceptably, the increase in enrollment is expected to extend the single child pick-up queue onto Peart Road. This is likely due to vehicle interaction between the vehicles exiting the single child pick-up queue and the sibling/carpool queue.
In meeting with school officials and their consultants City staff recommended that the single-child pick-up area be moved to the proposed bus loading area (circulation path extended to that location). This suggested change would result in a single-child queue length of 1,500 feet, sibling/carpool queue length of 1,200 feet and a total of 2,700 feet. The school has modified their site plan to reflect this relocated child drop-off/pick-up location. This is a net change of on-site vehicle queue storage of 350 feet. The 2,700 feet of available on-site storage is anticipated to accommodate the expected on-site queueing during drop-off and pick-up operations.
Prior to the recent installation of the sibling pick-up route during the previous school year, the vehicle queuing would occasionally extend out of the site and onto Peart Road creating a potential traffic hazard. Additionally, parents were observed parking elsewhere to drop off students, including in front of the nearby fire station. A school official indicated that they have contacted the manager at The Hope Depot adjacent to the school and he agreed that parents were welcome to park at The Home Depot and walk their kids along the sidewalk to the school (no road crossing necessary).