Zoning change needed for ABC bus garage to service Highlands schools | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Zoning change needed for ABC bus garage to service Highlands schools

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
ABC Transit has set up operations in the Highlands School District on the site of a former slag operation along Spring Hill Road in Harrison. Photographed on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
ABC Transit has been soliciting for drivers in the Highlands School District, including with this bus parked in front of Highlands Middle School in Harrison on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.

Highlands School District’s new bus company wants to set up its operations on the site of a slag operation in Harrison.

Commissioners have approved having township Solicitor Chuck Means prepare an ordinance that would amend the township’s zoning to allow the property on Spring Hill Road to be used for a bus garage.

The property is one of five areas in Harrison that are zoned as “S-1 Special.” If approved, the amendment would make a bus garage a permitted use on all land zoned that day, but the restrictions would be “very limiting,” Means said.

One such restriction would be for access to a “heavy duty,” four-lane county or state road, such as Spring Hill, he said.

“We don’t want 100 buses a day using a local township street to access the depot,” he said.

Township officials could not say if ABC Transit would be able to operate out of the property before the zoning amendment is approved.

The company is leasing the land off of Spring Hill and has an option to buy it, ABC Vice President Todd O’Shell said.

The company would use a garage already on the site and set up temporary modular offices, O’Shell said. The company is not yet building any other facilities there, although O’Shell said that is their long-range intention.

“The priority, at this point, is to mobilize for the start of the school year,” he said. Highlands students return to school in four weeks, on Aug. 29.

The Highlands School Board voted in May to award a five-year contract to ABC Transit, replacing W.L. Roenigk as the district’s student transportation contractor.

Under the contract, ABC was required to establish a physical presence within the Highlands School District.

District officials said it would save the district about $755,000 by awarding the contract to ABC over Roenigk, a claim Roenigk representatives dispute.

O’Shell said ABC is close to having all of the drivers it will need to service Highlands and is continuing to receive applications daily.

“We’re confident we’ll be ready for the first day of school,” he said.

O’Shell said ABC retained some, but not all, of Roenigk’s drivers who served Highlands.

“We encourage anyone who has not applied who would like to retain the run that they had last year, we’re still open and available for applications and would welcome them to continue to serve Highlands,” he said.

Almost all of the 66 new vans and buses ABC will use in Highlands are in, O’Shell said. They include 72- and 84-passenger large buses, 20- and 30-passenger mini buses, and seven- and 10-passenger vans.

ABC already is busing students for Highlands’ summer school program. Before the new school year starts, drivers will do at least two mock runs to learn their routes, O’Shell said.

“We’re still working on schedules with the district,” O’Shell said. “We don’t anticipate any major changes.”

Once the school year starts, O’Shell said parents will be able to reach the Highlands bus lot with any concerns by calling 724-226-2222.

“We hope to run smoothly and have minimal issues on the first day of school,” he said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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