Senoia planners approve charter school

Red Apple Development representative Scott Woodrey provides the Senoia Planning Commission with details of the Coweta Charter Academy project on Rockaway Road. Commissioners approved the conceptual site plan for the K-8 school Tuesday night. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The Senoia Planning Commission Tuesday night unanimously approved the conceptual site plan for the K-8 Coweta Charter Academy on Rockaway Road that will be run by Charter Schools USA. The approval came with several conditions suggested by City Administrator Richard Ferry. The school will open in August.

More than 100 people packed the council chambers for the meeting where commissioners after discussing the issues, hearing from project representatives and taking comments from more than a dozen residents approved the plan on a 4-0 vote.

The property is zoned R-40 residential. That designation permits the establishment of public, private and parochial schools.
The school site is an 18.6-acre tract on the north end of Rockaway Road and is bordered by Heritage Pointe Parkway immediately to the south and the city limits to the north. The property is situated inside Senoia city limits.

The plan calls for construction of a two-story, 49,707 square-foot school near the east side of the property, a 10,500 square-foot gym immediately to the west of the school and 133 parking spaces situated between the school and Heritage Pointe Parkway. Red Apple Development Vice President Scott Woodrey told commissioners the school facility would be ready for the beginning of the upcoming school in August.

Access points to the school will be on Rockaway Road and Heritage Pointe Parkway. Ferry in his presentation to the commission recommended several traffic flow improvements be made to the area. Commissioners included those conditions in the motion. Along with the results of a required sewer study, commissioners said the developer must install left and right turn lanes on the roadways and an acceleration lane and a traffic signal at Heritage Pointe Parkway.
Additionally, water and sewer services will be provided by the city and a fence will be installed around the property.

Most of those addressing the commission were in favor of the approval. But even some of those cited concerns about potential traffic problems that could accompany the K-8 school that is expected to serve more than 800 students.

Though not part of the conceptual site plan, a part of the discussion involved the designation of a potential future high school totaling 40,500 square feet, a 23,000 square-foot gym, athletic field and 364 parking spaces. Woodrey said the plans were significantly far into the future and that even though Charter Schools USA would like to eventually have a high school on the site such a project could not be considered anytime soon, adding that if it were ever considered the proposal would have to go through the approval process before the commission.

Ferry in his comments to the commission reiterated that position and said that any future construction of a high school would likely be problematic since the stormwater detention ponds on the property would have to be larger than what is shown on the northeast and southwest portions of the conceptual site plan and, thus, would conceivably encroach into the future construction area currently designated for the future high school and accompanying facilities.