Wetlands an issue for Page, regardless of the site

Kim Robins - Posted on Oct 12, 2011 - 04:55 PM

Wetlands will be an issue regardless of which site is chosen to locate Page Middle School, but not an insurmountable one, the Gloucester County School Board was told Tuesday.

The board heard from Julie Steele, president of Environmental Specialties Group, who presented an update of the 2008 assessment she conducted when the board purchased approximately 138 acres along T.C. Walker Road near its intersection with Route 17. That site is the board’s choice for the construction of a campus to replace the tornado-ravaged Page Middle School, rather than rebuilding at the existing Page site of approximately 32 areas.

The Walker Road site has two arms of a spring-fed stream in its rear corner which Steele said are likely perennial streams and would be required to have a 100-foot buffer. There are also a few isolated wet spots along the Route 17 side and a patch near Walker Road which Steele said could be easily mitigated.

"It’s very viable for development," Steele said of the 138 acres, where the board would like to build a middle school for grades six through nine. "From an overall perspective, that’s a very limited area of wetland impact."

Steele agreed with division assistant superintendent John Hutchinson’s estimation that the site has about 19 acres of wetlands, including three in the stream area and 16 wet areas that can be mitigated, leaving about 100 acres for development.

"From my standpoint, if I were sitting in your chair, I would have voted to purchase the land," Steele said in response to a question from board member Jean Pugh. "There is very little property in Gloucester that does not have wetlands," she added.