WAXHAW – Town leaders were willing to overlook an eyesore (by Waxhaw standards) to allow Union Day School to put a modular classroom building on the campus of Forest Hill Church.
Union Day wants to put a 7,872-square-foot building in the back of the church parking lot, north of Kensington Drive. Union Day’s agreement with Forest Hill allows the school to stay through mid-summer 2018.
Will Berkeley, of Forest Hill, said the church is willing to extend that one year if the school needs it. The church expects Union Day to take the modular with them.
“At some point in time in the not-too-crazy-distant future, we’ve like to have a preschool in there,” Berkeley said. “Once Union Day came to us, we told them we would be willing to allow them to have the space for three years.
Union Day has identified its future home on 27 acres along the eastern side of N.C. 16, between Ski Trail Lane and Rustic Oak Boulevard in Waxhaw. It’s seeking approval from Union County commissioners to locate there.
The short-term nature of the modular classroom helped Union Day secure approval from Waxhaw commissioners Oct. 24 despite town staff’s recommendation to deny the request.
Town staff said the proposal fell short of several design guidelines outlined in the Cureton Town Center permit. Some of those guidelines pertained to how buildings front the street and sidewalk, building and roof materials and screening heating and air conditioning units.
The school agreed to a few conditions, including painting the modular unit a color consistent with its surroundings, screening the HVAC unit and removing the classrooms by July 31, 2018. If there are delays, the school could apply to extend the deadline to remove the classrooms by July 31, 2019.
“I think that the architectural standards do not meet or even get close to meeting what the purpose of the shopping center is, but the use was granted way back when for a school,” Commissioner Paul Fitzgerald said. “My feeling is that it should be granted as long as they approve these conditions on that case.”
Waxhaw commissioners discussed the proposal during its Oct. 10 and 24 meetings. The public hearing was quasi-judicial, a formal process in which commissioners had to base decisions on evidence and sworn testimony. Attorneys for the town and school led the proceedings.
Kat Lee, a candidate running for Waxhaw commissioner, said the only issues that should matter when a school needs a trailer are: Do they need it? Can they fund it? Is it safe?
“If the answers to all three of those questions is yes, then how can we in good conscience deny children something that can improve their education because we don’t necessarily like the color of the siding or the shape of the roof?” Lee said during the public comment period.
Mayor Stephen Maher and commissioners explained they were merely going through the process.
“It’s not because we just have a passion to sit through public hearings,” Maher said. “We all took an oath to uphold the law and that’s what we’re doing.”