York County Elementary Usable Lot Sizes

The York County Elementary School system has inadequate lot sizes compared to the current and planned enrollment and development.   With a current enrollment of 5457 planned to increase to 5924, the combined lot size capacities add up to 3090, projected to go to 3560.  These numbers are based on the State Board of Education guidelines and Mark Carter’s buildable areas at the 11 school sites.

The York County BOS recently approved a new lot for a new elementary school in the Marquis development (See Oct 4 BOS Meeting Minutes.)  Prior to the meeting I noticed that the published 14.74 acre lot size, as compared to the state Board of Education standards appeared to be small for an ultimately 700 student school.  For a 700 student school, the VA DOE standards specify a minimum “usable site size” of 11 acres (4 acres + 1 acre per 100 students — See VA DOE school standards)  The “usable site size” is the buildable area on parcel, not the entire, and can be much smaller than the total acreage.

In looking at Yorktown Elementary School, the 14.09 platted area combined with the 50′ setback lines from the ‘RC’ zoning trims the usable area down to about 10.78 acres, or a site capacity of 678 students, and that is before reserving any land dedicated for parks and recreation fields.  Since the Marquis lots aren’t a simple shape like YES’s  rectangle, the usable land on the Marquis site could be much smaller.

The day of the last BOS meeting, I expressed concern about the planned size of the new school relative to the level of overcrowding.  After the meeting I saw the plat plan and followed up with a question about the “usable site size” within the building lines for the Marquis site.    On the 12th, I got the following information back, and it appears to show York County has very small lots for its elementary schools relative to the state standards:

Elementary School  Total Acreage   Building/Parking Pad   *DOE Site
Sites                              /Playgrounds Acreage   Capacity
                                   (approximate)

Bethel Manor            9           6.7                   270
Tabb                   14.8         8.1                   410
Coventry               15           7.8                   380
Mount Vernon           15.7         6.2                   220
Grafton-Bethel         15.7         8.5                   450
Dare                   17.2         8.5                   450
Seaford                19.8         6                     200
Yorktown               14           6.3                   230
Magruder               14           7.3                   330
Waller Mill            14           5.5                   150

Marquis                14.4         9.7                   570

(Table source Chad Green, personal communication. *DOE Site Capacity calculated by David Forrest, using “Building/… Acreage” as “usable site size”, minus 4 acres times 100 students/acre)

For the Marquis site, the 9.7 acres of “Building/Parking Pad/Playgrounds Acreage” appears to provide only enough “usable site area” for a school of 570 children.  Far short of the ultimate planned school size of 700 students.

Like the problems at Yorktown Elementary, a too-small usable site size at Marquis could cause problems, like insufficient parking, awkward bus loading and dropoff, playground, temporary building variances, and other overcrowding issues.

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