The Planning Commission on Wednesday denied a special use permit (SUP) for Carson Montessori School.
The school applied for an SUP to expand into a building near its existing facility to add a technology lab and secure testing site as now mandated by state and federal law.
Both the school already operating on Mouton Drive and the proposed expansion site on Conestoga Drive are on land zoned Light Industrial, a zone in which schools are now prohibited.
In 2006, when the current Montessori school was approved, schools were allowed in the zone.
The commission voted 4-2 on a motion to deny the application. Commissioners Monica Green and Daniel Salerno both voted against the motion.
Commission Chairman Paul Esswein advised the school it had 10 days to file an appeal.
“Please go to the Board of Supervisors,” said Esswein. “I think you have a greater than 50-50 chance.”
The commission was unable to make seven required findings to approve the application, but Esswein said the supervisors have more leeway to make decisions.
The meeting room was full of parents and children from the school and the item took two and a half hours.
The applicant’s presentation was made by five students and Jessica Daniels, school director and principal, answered questions from the commissioners.
Daniels said the school has been looking for 10 years for another site to relocate the school.
For most of that time, the only option was to find a building to lease in a residential or commercial zoned area, but nothing suitable was ever found, she said.
Now, the school, which is a public school, is allowed by law to purchase land and bond for construction, and Daniels said they have found a piece of property that may work out for their purposes but it could take years to develop it.
So, much of the meeting discussion was about whether to approve the SUP with a time limit that would give the school the chance to acquire land, build a bigger school and move.
Salerno advocated for approving the SUP despite not being able to make all the findings in order to incentivize the school to move.
“I cannot agree to the motion (to deny) because I feel from a planning standpoint we have an opportunity to correct an improper situation,” he said.
“That is an overwhelming reason.”
The commission did approve an SUP for a 300-unit, 15 building apartment complex on 19 acres located at Clearview Drive and Curry and Voltaire streets, behind and to the side of the Galaxy Fandango movie theater.
The complex will include a garage building, barbecue pavilions, clubhouse and swimming pool.
An existing trailhead at Koontz Lane and Curry Street will be removed so one condition of approval requires the developer to provide five parking spaces and access for hikers.
The commission will have two meetings in May, at 9 a.m. on May 24 and their regular meeting at 5 p.m. on May 31 because they have 10 applications to consider, including the annual growth management ordinance and an apartment complex proposed off of G.S Richards and Silver Oak boulevards and called The Villas at Silver Oak.