ST. JOHN | Dozens of residents from two subdivisions adjacent to Lake Central High School filled chairs at Wednesday's St. John Plan Commission meeting to voice opposition to plans for the new high school.
The public hearing followed a presentation of the plan by Bill Ledyard, director of facilities for the Lake Central School Corp.
The 1 million-square-foot facility will include a three-story academic wing and a two-story technical wing that will be built 55 feet from backyards in the Ventura Estates subdivision.
Buses will load and unload at the back of the school near homes in the Heron Lakes subdivision. Rather than build a 5-foot wall between the school and nearby homes, the school corporation is seeking a waiver to plant trees and shrubs as a barrier.
A new band practice area also will be relocated near homes.
Remonstrances against the school plans continued for more than an hour.
Attorney Michael Muenich, who represents St. John residents Jennifer and Daniel McClure, spoke for 15 minutes, outlining for commission members how the plans "fail to comply" with town ordinances.
The public didn't have access to the drawings and site plan to review before the hearing, Muenich said. He pointed out that no traffic studies have been done and that there's no documentation about stormwater control on the 84-acre site.
No loading docks are visible in the plans as required by town ordinances, the attorney said.
"My clients realize that a high school will be built on that site, but it has to be built in conformity with town ordinances," Muenich said.
Several residents said the current landscaping at Lake Central isn't maintained.
"Twenty years ago they planted 36 trees (along the property line with homes). Now there are 12 trees living. The dead ones haven't fallen over yet," Don Ferris said. "We understand they're going to take down the cyclone fence that's there now and plant trees. We will have people walking through our yards."
Brenda Bagherpour said she and her family feel they will lose their privacy because of security cameras that will point at their home. The three-story academic wing and two-story technical wing also will create problems, she said.
"There's light spilling on to our property now from the school. There will be lights on in that three-story building that flow on to our property. The building will be taller and closer to my house," Bagherpour said.
Paul Strubing, of Heron Lakes, said the Lake Central band practices and the bus staging area will create noise and pollution in his neighborhood.
"The buses will be standing out their twice every day spewing pollution. It's very disappointing," Strubing said.
"Do you like to sleep in on Saturday mornings?" he asked commission members. "Well, band starts practicing at 8 a.m. on Saturdays mornings. Now they're going to be even closer."
Then he drummed on the podium repeatedly to demonstrate what neighbors hear.
"It's like gunfire," a woman in the audience shouted.
Strubing vowed to keep protesting the plans.
"We can fight back, too, you know," he said.