Woodbury City Council OKs Liberty Ridge projectWith any rough patches apparently smoothed over between District 833 and a neighboring preschool, Woodbury City Council members gave final approval Wednesday, May 23, for an addition at Liberty Ridge Elementary.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
With any rough patches apparently smoothed over between District 833 and a neighboring preschool, Woodbury City Council members gave final approval Wednesday, May 23, for an addition at Liberty Ridge Elementary.
The approval clears the way for construction on the $4.5 million construction project, which was sought by the district to solve an overcrowding problem at the school, located in the Stonemill Farms development. The expanded facility will provide space for up to 180 kindergarteners and 60 preschoolers, said Mike Vogel, District 833 assistant to the superintendent for operations.
Council members approved a conditional-use permit and a plan for the site and building. Provisions of the conditional-use permit include a stipulation calling for the district to hold a meeting with the adjacent commercial property owner and the city to discuss site operations.
“The applicant shall work with the property owner to minimize impacts,” the permit states.
That property owner is Stepping Stones Early Learning Center, which has been an original tenant of the development. The original planned unit development agreement called for a daycare facility and allowed general business.
The conditional-use permit was required since the location is currently zoned as urban residential and is guided by the city as “places to shop” on its land-use plan.
Council members addressed concerns that the Liberty Ridge Site 2 project will remove the building from the tax rolls since district facilities are tax exempt.
Council Member Paul Rebholz said he had spoken with Stepping Stones President Amy Wiechmann and that they discussed challenges posed by the expansion.
In addition to child care, Stepping Stones offers preschool and kindergarten classes.
The issue “ultimately puts somebody from a competitive standpoint at a distinct kind of challenge,” Rebholz said. “You’ve got the school district … at a parcel immediately adjacent to you with different market dynamics at play.
“And I think those are significant.”
But he and others on the council said those issues appear to have been ironed out.
Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said discussions so far – and the condition that all parties review the situation at the end of the 2012-13 school year – have been productive.
“Everybody’s pretty happy right now,” she said.
Council approval of the project allows construction to begin. The project will expand the building, located on Eagle View Boulevard, from 10,000 to 22,000 square feet and will provide additional space for elementary and preschool classes.
District 833 School Board members opted for the building expansion over a plan to change attendance boundaries.
After City Council approved the project, Rebholz sought clarification from Engineering and Public Works Director David Jessup on why crews were already working at the site last week. Liberty Ridge officials contained students last week after a crew ruptured a gas line while breaking up a sidewalk at Site 2.
Jessup said there was no permit required for mass grading, which he said “was incidental to the site itself.”