SOUTH FORSYTH — A south Forsyth private parochial school has had its effort to relocate delayed after the county’s planning board deadlocked on the proposal.
The application, filed by St. John Bosco Academy, did not receive support from the county planning and development staff, which mentioned concerns about the potential site’s acreage and character of the surrounding, vastly residential properties on Shiloh Road.
Applications do not get non-supportive analyses from staff often, noted District 3 planning representative Greg Dolezal. That turn of events led him to examine the red flags deemed unfit for the area in an attempt to make the application suitable.
Dolezal, whose district encompasses the property, and District 2’s Jayne Iglesias voted against the request to rezone 4 acres of agricultural district, or A1, to single family residential district Res-2 with a conditional use permit.
Voting in favor were board members Alan Neal, the representative for District 4, and District 5’s Robert Hoyt.
Pam Bowman of District 1 was absent Tuesday night and likely will cast the tie-breaking vote at the board’s next meeting, set for June 23. It will be decision-only, meaning no public comments will be heard. The commission could hear the measure in July.
The school would be near St. Brendan’s Catholic Community and the south end of Fowler Park, both of which would be useful to it. Administrators say they hope to open there in fall 2016.
The academy is currently operating about six miles away, near Lambert High School on Old Atlanta Road.
Students in kindergarten through 12thgrade are homeschooled two or three days a week and attend classes on campus the other days. A maximum of 250 students would be on campus each day.
Planning board votes are typically recommendations made to the county commission. Still, about six amendments were approved Tuesday in front of an audience of about 40 representatives from the school and a handful of neighbors who spoke against the relocation.
The building was limited to 25,000 square feet and within the requirements of a Res-2 district. Initially, the designs called for a 51,000-square-foot building on a Res-3 zoning, which is denser than the Res-2 zoning.
Comments from opponents focused on additional traffic along Shiloh Road.
“A school is essentially a commercial establishment being built in the middle of a bunch of subdivisions,” one neighbor said. “It’s not in the plan of how Shiloh Road is developed.”
A voluntary traffic study was initiated by the school that showed a total of 620 trips would be made daily, with about 80 cars per day shuttling students to and from the school. Many students cannot drive and parents tend to carpool.
A variance on the application requested 71 parking spaces, as opposed to the required 110.
Heavy screening would buffer the school from the road and neighbors, including a Res-4-zoned subdivision across the street and an estate property next door.
About 60 percent of the students live in Forsyth, according to Vivian Ferrari, a school administrator. She said deceleration lanes and a left turn lane would be built on Shiloh to help traffic flow.
A condition was added to require a traffic officer during peak school arrival and dismissal times.
Other additional recommendations were to prohibit automated or electronic signs and any temporary buildings on the property except for tents or similar structures used for school-based activities.