At the November Mebane City Council meeting, Bradford Academy, represented by President of the school’s Board Tony Fairchild, requested approval of a special use request for a new elementary/secondary school to the immediate south of the I-40/I-85 freeway corridor.
Bradford Academy requested the special use permit for a 450-student private school campus on approximately 14 acres of a 54.12-acre property off NC Highway 119 at Nereus Drive, a private unpaved road. There is a series of interconnected highway and roadway connections that will merge the residential Summerhaven and the Bradford Academy facility.
Earlier this year, the Mebane City Council approved the Summerhaven residential neighborhood after initially rejecting it. At this month’s City Council session, the municipal board unanimously approved the new school following a quasi-judicial hearing on the special use request. The new Bradford Academy campus will lie within the Summerhaven community.
Fairchild spoke about the initial vision that brought about Bradford Academy a little more than a decade ago, along with the consistent growth the school has experienced over the years, which necessitates having their own standalone facility.
“By God’s grace, in August of 2008, with a bit of a leap of faith, we opened the school with just eight kids,” Fairchild said. “Four kindergartners and four first graders. We planned to add a grade each year until we had a full K through 12 school. Thankfully, we have been able to do this, growing from eight students in 2008 with just one staff member, to currently serving 212 students with 30 full and part-time staff members. We keep our commission low, and provide financial aid so that we can serve as many families as possible in the community.”
Bradford Academy has been renting space at Grace Reform Baptist and First Baptist Churches, but is quickly outgrowing those locations.
“We are quickly running out of space again, which is why we are here, excited about the possibility of this new facility,” Bradford’s Board President explained. “Bradford Academy loves the City of Mebane. And the students have enjoyed participating in many of the things that make our town a charming place to live. They have learned about their civil leaders by visiting City Hall, and the Mayor in grade school, and attending Council meetings in high school as part of their curriculum. They have honored our veterans and our nation with an annual patriotic program, participation in Mebane’s Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Fourth of July celebrations.”
Fairchild explained that the Bradford Academy students have enjoyed singing in Christmas carols and in the annual Mebane Christmas Parade, and have served as volunteers for numerous local charitable groups including Hospice, Living Free Ministries, Hawfields Nursing Home, and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
“It’s truly been a pleasure to have a school in this wonderful community. This new facility that we are proposing would allow us to have the entire school in one location, which is very important to us. We are committed to keeping our class sizes small, and are working towards having two classes for each grade level. That would put us at around 420 students at maximum capacity, which we would reach by 2030. The facility would allow us to have our own athletic facilities, which would be a great blessing.”
Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, brokered the sale of the 78 acres of land for the Summerhaven and Bradford Academy projects. The total sales price was $2.2 million, or $30,000 per acre.
Bill Aucoin and Gary Lyons, both with Avison Young, exclusively represented the seller, Kimrey Redlands, LLC. The portfolio was purchased by Desco Holdings, LLC based in Greensboro. The community, called Summerhaven, will feature 78 single-family homes and a new campus for the Bradford Academy Christian School in Mebane. Bradford Academy had the property under contract to purchase leading up to the November City Council meeting, contingent upon approval of the rezoning.
“There was a tremendous level of collaboration between Kimrey Redlands and Desco Holdings throughout the lengthy entitlement process,” said Aucoin. “Our team at Avison Young is excited for the opportunity to participate in this project as we know it will be a great asset to the Mebane community for years to come.”
The applicant did not seek annexation into the City, as the Summerhaven community is not annexed into Mebane, and will be providing on-site septic treatment for wastewater needs. Both Summerhaven and the new Bradford Academy will be using Orange Alamance Water System, Inc., services for water service needs.
Bradford Academy requested one waiver from Mebane’s architectural requirements, which prohibit the use of metal as an exterior building material. The school’s architect, John Plageman, explained why the school elected to construct the new three-building campus with an exterior that traditionally goes against Mebane’s Unified Development Ordinance. The proposed material is the same material that the City Council approved for the new Signature Flooring building that is currently being constructed along Mebane Oaks Road.
“In designing the main elevations of the school project, we have two school buildings - one for elementary, and one for the high school,” Plageman explained. “It’s just on the second floor of the main gym building. Everywhere else is brick, 100 percent. We’ve got masonry everywhere else.”
“The middle (building) is the gym building, which has a gym, administrative offices, a library, a wrestling room, weight room, and all kinds of theatre functions. So it’s a large building to accommodate a lot of need,” Plageman continued. “To best do that span, we’re proposing a structural system that is open. And typically the kind of skins that you see on those kinds of buildings are the metal skins that are prohibited in your UDO. In the past projects that we’ve successfully done in Mebane, we’ve used an insulated metal panel. Insulated metal panels are a much superior product to what is typically known as a metal skin building, which is more for warehouses and less permanent looking. They offer a very superior insulation factor, which usually achieves the energy factor for the building just in the skin itself. It’s much thicker metal. It’s made of a better-grade steel, and its made to look more like a stucco product.”
Both Summerhaven and Bradford Academy will share one full site access located on NC 119 and the school will have an additional exit only access on NC 119. The site is expected to be built out by 2023, and does not utilize buses. Due to its close proximity to the Summerhaven subdivision, it was required by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the City of Mebane to study two scenarios: with and without the Summerhaven subdivision. The Traffic Impact Analysis analyzed 244 single family homes, while now it is proposed to have 81 single family homes. The calculator estimated that there would be 449 trips in the AM peak and 326 trips in the Dismissal peak. This would include parents, staff and student drivers.
The various traffic reports recommended numerous highway and traffic improvements to the local area, including modified signals and a northbound turning lane of 150 feet at 119 and Trollingwood Hawfields Road/Old Hillsborough Road, northbound and westbound right turn lanes and a southbound left turn lane at 119 and Kimrey Road, a signal at 119 and Jim Minor Road, a northbound right turn lane and southbound left turn lane on 119 for the first access to the site, as well as a separate egress lane with a left lane of 100 feet with appropriate taper at the second access site off Highway 119.
The calculator determined that the school would need to provide at least 1,297 feet of queue on campus to accommodate the school traffic. The site plan is expected to provide 1,300 feet of queue on campus, which will satisfy the requirement. To achieve the queue, it is recommended to have double stacking on campus. A roundabout is proposed at the school driveway on the shared access with Summerhaven. The roundabout is anticipated to operate without significant queueing or delay based on conservative traffic assumptions reviewed by Engineer Ramey Kemp and Associates.
Egress from the school is allowed at the roundabout based on the site plan in the traffic study. However, preferred operations during the school early morning and dismissal peak hours is that no traffic uses this egress point. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is reviewing the feasibility of improvements at NC 119 and Trollingwood Hawfields Rd, due to existing historic properties nearby, including Hawfields Presbyterian Chuch and Hawfields Cemetery.
The School will connect to an 8-inch developer-installed water extension from Orange-Alamance Water System’s 12-inch water main along N.C. Highway 119. Bradford Academy has obtained a letter from Orange-Alamance Water System, Inc. indicating that they will provide adequate water. In addition, Bradford Academy has obtained an Alamance County Environmental Health Improvement Permit (enclosed) for an on-site subsurface treatment system (flow equalization/with conventional septic system) with sufficient repair area for a projected daily flow of 4,500 gallons per day.