CH field

This front portion of Upper Darby School District land in Clifton Heights is the proposed site of a new middle school. Athletic fields will be built in the back for continued community use.

CLIFTON HEIGHTS — A rescheduled meeting to solicit public comment on the Clifton Heights middle school project is set for Tuesday night.

The Clifton Heights Planning Commission will meet at borough hall to entertain an application for preliminary land development for Upper Darby School District to build a 160,000-square-foot middle school on its property at 217 N. Springfield Road. The school will reportedly accommodate 950 students and provide updated athletic fields for community use on the more than 13-acre property.

Tuesday’s meeting comes almost a month after the district asked the commission to postpone a Nov. 12 meeting for the same application. Upper Darby Schools Superintendent Dan McGarry said the district needed more time to go over borough Engineer J.P. Kelly’s review letter of the plan, which was received by the district about a week before the November meeting. The letter identified more than 120 points on how the plan does not conform to the borough’s ordinances and zoning regulations.

According to McGarry, the district’s land development application, submitted on May 23, had plans drawn up based on ordinances that were still in place at the time, but the review letter applies new ordinances put in effect on May 28. These updated ordinances made it more difficult for the district to get approval for the project since its by-right use of the property to put a school on the land has been revoked and building height limitations hinder the multi-story school.

A hearing has been scheduled at the Media Courthouse before Judge Barry Dozor on Dec. 30 to hash out which ordinances should be applied to the project.

The district's plans to build the new school has sparked intense opposition in the borough. Many in Clifton Heights consider the athletic fields - the last bit of open space in town - "sacred ground," the scene of numerous athletic events and community celebrations such as the July 4th festival. They have vowed to fight any plan to build on the site. 

The Clifton Heights Planning Commission will meet at borough hall at 7 p.m. Public comment is limited to borough residents only.

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