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Supervisors approve new dormitory on Solebury School campus

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The private Solebury School on Phillips Mill Road won approval Tuesday night from the board of supervisors to build a new dormitory on 3.75 acres of its 137-acre campus.

Solebury Township Supervisor Hanna Howe did not vote because she is employed at the school as a librarian.

Plans call for construction of a three-story, 7,200-square-foot dormitory, a one-story 1,152-square-foot service building and associated walkways, drives and a parking lot with access from School Lane.

Approval came with some waivers and conditional use approvals for some items including disturbance of 2.75 acres of productive agricultural soils, placing a driveway in a flood fringe area. To offset encroachment into the riparian corridor, 19 trees and five shrubs will have to be planted.

The current population at the college-preparatory school for grades 9 to 12 is 235 boarding and day students. The new dorm is expected to help accommodate 300 students (150 boarding and 150 day students) by 2030.

The school’s attorney, Ed Murphy, told the board he hoped to break ground by Oct. 1 so the school could recruit new students for next fall.

Township Attorney Mark Freed questioned that timeline, noting “I’m not sure Oct. 1 is do-able.”

In other matters, the board of supervisors heard the annual presentation from The Free Library of New Hope and Solebury. Its president, Doug Brindley, noted Solebury’s $125,000 donation to the library this year, and hoped it “can be sustained in the coming year with as much inflation assistance as can be offered.” As of July 31, he said, it has received $32,000 from New Hope Borough as its share of the costs.

He noted the library also received $5,000 this year from a Bucks County Business Recovery Grant to be used for library operations.

Fundraising efforts brought in $27,964. Total revenue as of July 31 came to $226,639, he said.

The library’s annual fundraising Spelling Bee is coming back with a vengeance after falling victim to COVID in 2020 and 2021.

So, this year the library boosted its efforts to recruit teams and ended up with 20 teams, the point at which it cut off further entries (before Solebury became aware that it couldn’t try to surpass its previous spelling glories).

This year’s Spelling Bee will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct.7, at the New Hope-Solebury High School Theater.

In other business:

-The board authorized Township Manager Christopher Garges to discuss realignment options for Shire Drive with residents in the North Point area;

-Scheduled an Energy/Climate Forum for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the New Hope-Solebury High School cafeteria;

-Adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance that would create a Human Relations Commission to deal with discrimination complaints.

Garges said PennDOT has finished its rebuilding project of Route 263 between River Road and Centre Bridge Road and plans to reopen the road to traffic either on Monday afternoon, Sept. 26, or Tuesday morning Sept. 27, weather permitting. A significant section of the roadway was washed out by the remnants of Hurricane Ida last year, and major repairs got under way in January.

The work required installation of pile beams to support a new retaining wall on the east side of Route 263, design and construction of a new culvert and drainage system, and construction of a new surface and guide rail along 800 feet of roadway.

Solebury Township

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