Six months after filing with the City of Sandy Springs, whose original 20-year master plan to consolidate lower and upper schools and expand the shared campus, the Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Preparatory School have submitted an amended proposal to the city Residents who live nearby.
The school and the church will hold a community meeting on April 24 from 6 to 7 pm. in the church, where the public is invited to give their opinion on the master plan. In October, the church and school also organized a community meeting, where some residents opposed the proposal.
Holy Spirit has an eight-acre lower school campus, home to seventh grade kindergarten on Long Island Drive, Sandy Springs, and a 14-acre, Grade 8 to 12, secondary school on Buckhead's Northside Drive, where the church is on 16 Hectares (all) is located The school / church land is owned by the Church and the Catholic Archdiocese. The preschool of the school is also in the gymnasium.
The archdiocese of Sandy Springs owns approximately 13 acres of mostly forested land next door and plans to expand the facility to include facilities for the church and school so that lower grades can move to the campus of the upper grades.
The church and school plans submitted to Sandy Springs require a conditional use permit. Main reasons for the development are parking problems in church and school as well as the unification of the campus.
The original master plan provides the following construction:
- a three-story parking garage with 250 parking spaces, which is used by both the school and the church
- two 20,000-square-meter church buildings used for classrooms and other purposes
- a second rectory (two storeys and 12,000 square meters), housing retired priests hired by the church
- two two-story, 50,000-square-foot school buildings (one serves as a recreation center and the other as a classroom)
- an outdoor sports field for the school without light
- a parking lot and a roundabout
- As part of the plan, the church will also purchase parts of two other properties on Jett Road to add three quarters of arable land on the site. According to the map, the first rectory of the church is already on the 13 acre lot and the second is nearby.
After the new plan, the sports field was moved to the top floor of the parking deck. The two class buildings were replaced by a three-story, 40,000 square meter classroom.
The existing rectory remains in the new plan, but the proposed second rectory was reduced to 7,000 square meters. The new proposal also includes two 7,000-square-meter, two-storey community buildings designed to replace one of the classroom buildings painted in the original plan. Finally, the leisure center remains in the new plan, but grew to 67,200 square feet.
"We just listened to some of their inputs around the plan, reducing it in terms of density, protecting more forest area and trying to implement our priorities both from a school and a church perspective," says Kyle Pietrantonio Headmaster, said about the amendments to the proposal after meeting with a neighborhood group in January and March. He added that the revised plan provides for a three-thirds lower density than the original one.
"It was mainly why we changed the plan," he said. "We initially thought this was a sensible plan and thought, OK, we are hearing some concerns about tree hydrology (and). Let's see if we can continue to adjust the plan to make it less dense. "
Monsignor Edward Dillon, the pastor of the church, said it was impossible to see what the church would demand in 20 years, that she had an "immediate need" to need more parking.
The residents against the plans of the school and the church have cited a 16-year agreement between the school and the neighborhood group.
The agreement is subject to the school's special approval approved by the Atlanta City Council in 2003 and could build on the campus previously used by the Whitefield Academy and the Mount Vernon Christian Academy. The school opened in 1996 and announced two years later to build new buildings on this campus.
The agreement was signed by the headmaster of the then-named Donnellan School and the Northside / Chastain / Mount Paran Neighborhood Association, Inc. This organization was established when in 1998 the church proposed a similar master plan for a parking deck school and other church buildings.
The first application for a special permit was rejected by the City of Atlanta, but the second was approved and is bound by the Neighborhood Agreement.
The school's approval request / agreement included the proposal to have up to 300 high school students, more than the 100 Whitefield and the 250 Mount Vernon, and the increasing enrollment of campus drew complaints from neighbors about possible increased traffic in the area Environment according to a media report. The school changed its name to Holy Spirit Prep in 2002 and today the upper school has about 300 students.
The school's master plan, submitted to the town of Sandy Springs in October, involves moving the lower school with about 300 students, located on Long Island Drive, to the campus of the upper grades, so they could be merged into a campus not more than 750 students. However, this may not be possible after agreement and approval.
Under the grant, the school was restricted to grades 6 to 12 with a maximum enrollment rate of 320. "There will be no further expansion of the number of students at this or an adjacent location," says the application / agreement.
The Master Plan also provides for the construction of a parking deck to alleviate the parking problems of church and school, but the permit / agreement also limits the access of cars to the school grounds.
The local resident group has even set up yard signs saying "respect our neighborhood". Honor the agreement, "and many are seen along Mount Paran and other streets.
Pietrantonio said negotiations with the association had been going well in recent months, and the school and the church were ready to make sacrifices to please the group.
"The new plan for this particular use places this playing field at the top of the park structure, so we are trying to make the existing building blocks more useful," he said. "The other big shift is to slightly downsize this school building and move it in front of the park structure. … these are the most important changes. "
Pietrantonio said some members of the Neighborhood Group are already "satisfied" with the proposed changes to the school and the church.
"I think there is still some kind of dichotomy between them," he said. "There are some who are satisfied that we have really returned to the drawing board and made some changes to the original plan and would be pleased with the progression. At the other end of the continuum, I think there are some who radically refuse to touch a blade of grass. …
"When designing the road and the park structure, much thought was put into queuing over 190 cars with staggered stop and pick up times. We never had police on campus to ease traffic. We are open for it. "
At the meeting on April 24, a traffic study will be presented on how the plan of the school and the church will affect the area, said Pietrantonio. He also said that the proposal, which includes adding a drive that cuts through the new part of the campus and intersects with Mount Paran, will actually improve traffic there by providing another access point there.
Debbie Guerra, a board member of the association that heads the group in negotiations with the school and the church, rejects the proposed drive, in part because she lives on Mount Paran opposite the site, but also because she believes it is adding from traffic to an already congested area.
"The views of the neighborhood, the consolidation of the campus and the increase in the number of students and the construction associated with this expansion are contrary to the agreement and are reflected in the special permit that was originally directed by the upper grades," she said.
Guerra said the school and church leaders had not addressed all of the association's concerns in their revised plan and added, "This agreement really does not support school consolidation or expansion."
"There are significant concerns about the hydrology study (and) of the runoff," she said. "Many of our neighbors in Allen Court and Conway Forest are severely affected at the end of this runoff. We have not seen a hydrology study yet. These questions were not fundamentally addressed to their satisfaction.
"We are very supportive of the church and high school in their present configuration, but it is really an attempt to protect the neighborhood. There we are at odds. The third effect is the incremental increase in traffic. "
According to Guerra, the group is also concerned about the mature urban forest, which claims the majority of the 13 hectares to be developed.
"We also did not receive clear answers in the country's tree study," she said.
Dillon said the church and school intend to cut as few trees as possible, and the trees on some parts of the campus that are near the road remain untouched.
"The entire section of Mount Paran from the driveway to the rectory has a … 60-foot setback. None of the trees in this area are touched, "he said. "You must come to our property to see one of these buildings."
Both sides hope to reach a new agreement soon, but it could take months or more.
"Our concern," Guerra said, "is that they do not listen to the concerns of the neighborhood, and we want them to respect the agreement and respect the neighbors' wishes."