TO: Mayor and Town Council
FROM: W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager
SUBJECT: PACE Academy – 1713 Legion Road
(File No. 7.27.E.10E; PIN 9799-45-0988)
DATE: September 27, 2004
At its September 7, 2004, meeting, the Town Council received a petition from residents along Legion Road near the site of the PACE Academy Charter School. The petition opposes location of a charter high school at 1713 Legion Road due to safety, parking issues, and traffic concerns. This memorandum responds to the concerns raised in the petition.
The Planning Board application which triggered the petition has been delayed indefinitely. No Council action is recommended at this time.
The 1713 Legion Road site originally received Planning Board approval in September 1988 for construction of the building and 9 parking spaces. The original approval limited the number of employees during any one shift to seven (7) and limited the allocation of square footage for office space and storage/distribution each to 3,000 square feet of floor area.
In October of 1989 the owner requested a modification to the original approval. The modification was approved as follows: “That the use of this site be limited to a total of 6,000 square feet, and of this total there be no more than 3,000 square feet of gross floor area for office use, and no more than 4,000 square feet of gross floor area for storage distribution use; and there be no more than seven (7) employees during any one shift; and, that no retail sales to the general public are conducted on the premises.
In September of 2001 the owner received administrative approval for a change of use from Use Group C to Use Group B to allow an elementary charter school to locate in the existing building. The approval continued the limit of no more than seven (7) employees.
In July of 2003 the owner received administrative approval to expand the existing parking lot from 9 spaces to 17 parking spaces.
On May 26, 2004, an application for Site Plan Review approval by the Planning Board was submitted to establish a public charter high school, PACE Academy, at 1713 Legion Road. The school proposed an initial enrollment of 96 students with a capacity of 120 students and a total of 12 employees. The application proposed to remove the 7 employee limit.
On July 10 a petition was prepared opposing the location of a charter high school on Legion Road signed by residents of Turnberry Lane and the Meadows of Chapel Hill. At the September 7, 2004 Council meeting, the petition was presented to the Town Council.
Subsequent to the submittal of the Planning Board application and in response to the related neighborhood concerns, the applicant asked that processing of the application be suspended. PACE Academy scaled back the proposal and asked for administrative approval of a Zoning Compliance Permit for a change from the previous elementary school to a high school, with no changes to the original conditions of approval (i.e., no change to the 7-employee limit).
On August 4, 2004, an application for a Zoning Compliance Permit was submitted for a change of use from an elementary charter school to a high school charter school. The applicant proposed to limit the number of staff present during any one shift to seven (7) employees. Information regarding a Parking and Traffic Control Plan was submitted as part of the application.
The application was approved administratively on September 2, 2004, with the following stipulations:
· No more than seven (7) employees allowed at the site during any one shift;
· No more than eight-five (85) students are allowed;
· Compliance with all applicable fire and building code regulations must be met;
· Installation of school zone signage/markings on Legion Road within 60 days of permit;
· If off-site private parking agreement is terminated, the permit shall be void;
· Landscape bufferyard along Legion Road frontage satisfy the type “C” buffer requirement within 60 days of permit.
The administrative Zoning Compliance Permit issued by the staff responded to concerns raised by the neighbors by including conditions of approval addressing number of employees and students, Legion Road signage, and compliance with a specific parking and circulation plan. The PACE Academy School opened for the 2004-2005 school year in compliance with the original restrictions of the Planning Board, the seven (7) employee limit, and an 85 student limit. The Planning Board application requesting release from the limit on employees has been put on hold. We recommend no further action on this petition.
If the application to the Planning Board requesting removal of the employee limit is reactivated by the applicant, we will inform neighbors and the Town Council.