By: Sharon Aron Baron
A Charter High School that met with the planning board last week to seek a recommendation to move forward received opposition from nearby businesses and residents in a packed meeting room at city hall.
The applicant, Jorge Gutierrez, Architect, on behalf of the property owner Tiger Tooth Holdings and the school operator American Charter Development was requesting the planning board to allow special exemption of a Charter High School at 8301 West McNab Road. The proposed school would serve as a dropout prevention high school for at-risk students with two sessions each day for a total of 400 hundred students.
Currently the one-story building with a parking lot sits vacant and was once used as a call center.
Residents from the nearby Walden Pond community of Woodmont which sits on the other side of NW 70 Street spoke out against the school saying it would increase traffic to their neighborhood.
The school planned to put cones up to block traffic exiting to NW 70 street. However, many residents said that students would walk or drive over the cones and the street behind the building would be a temporary drop off point for students.
American Charter estimated that 15 percent of students would use their own vehicles based on data from their other schools. There would be no bus service provided by the school district.
One resident said that there was a nearby dropout prevention high school at 48th Street and University Drive that also backed up to a residential area, however, there was a wall behind the school.
“All of these students are going to be from other area,” the resident said, ” I just think by looking around the room, that this [proposal] will not enhance our city, and it’s not unique.”
Perry Giordanelli, with Alan Weiss Hearing Aids owns the Colony Springs Building next door to the proposed Charter High School was concerned about students using the parking lot or loitering around the area.
When asked about a security guard, representatives from the schools said that they had budgeted for one.
The two sessions each day would occur between 7:00 am to 11:00 am and a second session at 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Planning board members Torn and Miller wanted to table the decision until security concerns were met by the company, however, board members LeMelle and Griffin recommended to deny it to the city commission.
Attorney Brian Sherman said that because it was a deadlock it must move forward to the May 28, 2014 city commission meeting without a recommendation.