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Private school ponders moving Decatur campus

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

A Decatur private school experiencing growing pains wants to move its campus, but a city zoning committee said it needs to see an access plan before it considers approving the new site.

Engineer Blake McAnally said Decatur Heritage Christian Academy has a contract that would allow the school to buy 35 acres in the 3800 block of Spring Avenue Southwest.

McAnally asked the Decatur Board of Zoning and Adjustment on Tuesday to approve a usage permit on appeal so the school could begin investing in design plans to construct a school building, gymnasium and parking lot.

Carolyn S. Parker owns the land, which is in an agricultural and residential zone.

"We asked for a use on appeal to have the school locate inside those zones," McAnally said.

"It's normally not allowed in those zones, but it can be done on appeal."

Members of Vestavia Court homeowners association, a subdivision near the proposed location, expressed traffic safety concerns to board members.

"The least we need is a site plan," resident Don Ricks said. "And in the absence of that, there's not a decision to be made here."

The homeowners association has long lobbied the city to install a traffic signal at Vestavia Drive and Spring Avenue to improve access on a road lined with nine churches and subdivisions.

Businesses and apartment complexes hem in the school at 2014 Sandlin Road S.W.

"It needs a more modern campus with room to grow," McAnally said. "They've been looking for a location for a while, and this seems to be it."

The board, at the building department's suggestion, tabled the request until the school submits an access plan, allowing the city Planning, Engineering and Building departments to investigate the matter.

The non-denominational school was established in 1995 on 12 acres. It instills biblical principals to students from preschool through 12th grade and is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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