Charter school gets OK from planning commission |

Charter school gets OK from planning commission

Teri Vance

Silver State Charter School will move forward with plans to move its campus to Mallory Way, after the Carson City Planning Commission approved a special-use permit and zoning change Wednesday.

Despite objections from some neighboring businesses that the school would not be compatible with industry in the area, representatives from the school pointed to changes in the area.

Real estate agent John Uhart listed fitness centers, a beauty college, churches, a photo studio and the Nevada Appeal as some of the neighboring businesses.

“The area has been and is transitioning to a mixed-use of retail and commercial type of area,” he said.

Superintendent Steve Knight said he objected to concerns from nearby business owners about potential problems with vandalism.

“These are Carson kids, they’re not bad kids,” he said. “We’re a closed campus, we don’t have kids wandering around. We’ve been good neighbors.”

Property owner Linda Oakes said she was a good kid and raised good kids. That, she said, didn’t preclude them from getting into trouble at times and fears the students could drive away tenants.

“Kids will be kids,” she said. “To say they’re not going to cause havoc here and there is unreasonable.”

Knight also addressed worries from area property owners about Mallory Way, a privately owned road that often falls into disrepair.

“The city has no funds or desire to improve this road. It is rapidly deteriorating with current use. If a charter school were to be located here, the added use … would overburden Mallory Way,” wrote Gary and JoAnn Sheerin in a letter to the commission before the meeting.

Knight said he didn’t foresee a problem.

The majority of the students, he said, arrive by bus daily, with about 15 parents dropping off students.

The online hybrid school requires students to attend classes once a week, with two sessions running daily. The school currently has nearly 500 students with hopes to grow into 1,000 in the new location.

Knight agreed the street is in disrepair, but said he would join in upgrading it.

“We will participate in repairing it,” he said. “We’ll contribute our share.”

This is the school’s third attempt to find a new location since outgrowing its current school in a strip mall on North Carson Street.

In May 2009, the school went before the Carson City Airport Authority with plans to build a 65,000-square-foot campus adjacent.

The airport authority denied the school’s plan, citing safety concerns. School officials said they resolved the concerns, and the planning commission approved the special-use permit in December 2009.

City supervisors overturned that decision in January 2010 after hearing protests from the airport

and other neighboring businesses.

Planning Commission Chairman Mark Kimbrough said he appreciated the school’s willingness to persevere.

“This project has worked so hard to be part of the community,” he said.

However, business owner Donald Heldoorn said the school should have contacted him and other businesses in the area beforehand. He said a potential partnership between the city and school to share facilities may have tainted the commission’s decision.

“It seems to me they’re sugar coating the site plan and making me feel you’re on their side,” he told commissioners.

The school will appear before the Carson City Board of Supervisors on April 21 for final approval.