Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Should Wichita school buses be allowed to park in a north Wichita neighborhood facility for more than 72 hours?
That was the topic of discussion between residents, First Student, and the zoning appeals board as they decided whether or not the company's new facility at 37th and Seneca is for storage or parking.
Last January, First Student signed a 7-year deal with USD 259 replacing Durham School services as the bus provider for the district.
With the deal came a need for a bus facility, one that continues to cause controversy.
Storage or parking?
"Stop and think. If this was your home, would you want an option to change things if this was going to affect your family, your property, the safety of your family, the safety of your neighbors?" Jack Deatherage, who lives near the facility asked.
Nearly 300 buses drive in and out of the lot numerous times a day leaving through one entrance, and returning at the end of the day.
The buses are then parked there overnight. They are parked for even longer periods during spring, summer and winter breaks and for long weekends.
"When they take it there every night, they store it. They don't store their buses any place else. This is their storage facility," said another neighbor.
"If First Student were not going to be running school bus routes from this place, there would be no reason, and no desire to have buses on the property," said a First Student representative.
According to the zoning appeals board, a city recommendation allowing the buses to stay parked for longer than 72 hours makes it a storage facility.
That decision makes residents happy, and puts a burden on First Student, since a 10-year deal has been signed for the property on North Seneca.
"Definitely based off what are our facts and findings today, we found it's for storage and not for parking," said Joshua Blick, a zoning appeals board member.
To stay at the current site, First Student would have to move every bus at least every 72 hours.
First Student is also looking at expanding into a grassy area to the south side of the lot.
Another appeal will be heard by the zoning appeals board in February.