Preliminary Badin H.S. parking expansion, stadium plan gets council approval

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton City Council has approved a preliminary plan for a proposed parking expansion and possible athletic complex.

But the final plan, whenever it is presented to Hamilton Planning Commission, won’t look the same.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we met with the adjacent property owners to discuss their concerns and see what changes could possibly be made,” said Badin High School Principal Brian Pendergest. “We’ve agreed to look at other orientations for the stadium in an effort to address the concerns of the neighbors to the south.”

In March, the high school submitted a request for a preliminary planned development that requested a proposed 284-space parking expansion and rezoning of the nearly 26-acre property. With that request, the school provided plans for a proposed 2,672-seat athletic complex. Neighbors to the south and west of the New London Road high school did not like the idea, complaining about potential traffic issues on off streets, like Jerdan Lane, and potential noise and bright lights during home games.

Currently, Badin field sports play at off-site locations, including at Edgewood, Hamilton, Fairfield and Ross high school stadiums.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan in April, and City Council approved the preliminary plan by way of a 5-0 vote. The approval also rezoned the Badin campus from residential to a business planned development. Council members Joel Lauer and Eric Pohlman abstained due to conflicts of interest.

City Council’s approval does have a shelf life. A final planned development must be submitted to the Hamilton Planning Commission within a year. School officials have not specified a timeline for the stadium project but have expressed a need for the parking lot expansion, which would give the school a total of 650 parking spots.

Badin’s enrollment since the 2010-2011 school year has gone from 448 students to 623 students this past school year, and school officials say enrollment continues to rise.

Ken Reeves, of 920 Columbia Road, told City Council before it voted to approve the preliminary plan he was against the original proposal.

“However, I feel that both sides are working hard to get a resolution that’s going work for everybody,” he said. “So with that, I support continuing this process to try to get that happy place so that it works out for everybody.”

He acknowledged that it was “long overdue” for Badin to have an on-campus stadium, and “hopefully this all works out for everybody.”

Badin High School is one of only two schools in southwest Ohio to not have a stadium on its campus, and the other, Purcell Marian in Cincinnati broke ground last month for an athletic facility.

“We’re really only asking for something that all of our other schools have that we’re competing with for students,” Pendergest said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Among the concerns of residents are access off Jerdan Lane, use of the stadium seven nights a week, the position of the stadium encroaching near adjacent property owners, and stadium lights and noise from the use of the stadium.

Pendergest said the parking lot project is being reconfigured and “we eliminated the exit onto Jedran Lane completely. That will be completely closed off. All exits and entrances will come off New London (Road).”

Additionally, while they’ve requested using the stadium seven nights a week, it’s unlikely it will be used more than three to four nights a week. But because of scheduling, they do not know what nights fall and spring games and meets will be scheduled. Also, in the event of weather delays, games will be rescheduled on a day the complex is not in use.

“But at no point will we play seven nights a week,” Pendergest said. “Quite honestly we probably won’t even play five nights a week.”

He also said lights and the public address system will only be used for games, but said the lights may be needed for football and soccer practices if they make the state high school playoffs as it will be dark by late afternoon and early evening.

“This is the first step of a multistep process. We know we’re going to be hopefully in front of you many times coming forward throughout this process if it’s approved tonight.”

All five voting members of City Council expressed gratitude to the neighbors for voicing issues, and Badin for working with the neighbors.

“Everyone seemed to listen to each other in this whole process,” said Mayor Patt Moller. “There will be a traffic analysis. There’s going to be additional analysis of light, sound, looking at drawings again.”

Vice Mayor Michael Ryan said he knows of the concerns growing up down the way from Hamilton High School’s stadium.

“I grew up on Taft Place, the corner of (North) Brookwood (Avenue) and Taft, so I know what it’s like having those lights shining in your house at night, and I know what it’s like having the traffic,” he said.

Fiehrer said she understands why residents would not want a stadium abutting their properties, but said “this is a necessity for Badin High School.”

“I just support everything they’ve done and I just appreciate how they’ve tried to communicate with the neighbors, also,” she said.

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