Leaders of Sunrise Academy, a chartered Islamic school at 5657 Scioto Darby Road, would need to consider a second campus if they are to expand the school after the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on June 8 unanimously rejected a request for a conditional-use permit required to build a 2,678-square-foot addition.

"I'm not here to plan for today but for 10, 15 years from now," said Mayor Don Schonhardt, a member of the commission.

Several residents also said they opposed the school's proposal to expand.

Officials from Sunrise Academy said they do not plan to appeal the commission's decision.

The commission's unanimous rejection of the plan came almost one year after a 3-3 deadlock in July 2016 nixed a conditional-use permit for an identical application.

Schonhardt's June 8 vote against the proposed addition was a reversal from his decision in 2016.

He said he questioned Sunrise Academy's investment in an expansion at a site that could not be expected to meet the future needs of the school, even in the short term.

"You're trying to pour 10 gallons of water into a 5-gallon bucket and it's not going to happen," he said.

In August 2016, commission members agreed to reconsider the application in 2017, allowing time for Sunrise Academy to create a traffic-management plan to mitigate the negative effects associated with vehicles dropping off and picking up students.

At the start of the meeting, city planner John Talentino said city officials recommended approval of the conditional-use permit with seven conditions, which included "strict enforcement" of the traffic plan and a cap on the school's enrollment.

Mouhamed Tarazi, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, and Mark Denny, an architect with CDI Design Group, represented Sunrise Academy and presented the results of the traffic plan.

They told commission members that security guards at the school work to ensure motorists do not park or idle on the street outside the building.

"It isn't perfect but it's working," Denny said.

Two Hilliard middle schools and Darby High School are across the street from Sunrise Academy, which itself sits at the corner of Cemetery Road and Veterans Memorial Drive, the entrance to the Hilliard Family Aquatic Center, the community center, the senior center and Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park.

Commission members were not persuaded by the traffic-management plan.

"Generally, we see a change (when reconsidering an application), but I don't see anything here that changes my mind," said commission chairman Chris Lewie, who voted against the application in July 2016.

Neighbors also were critical of the potential for more traffic in an already busy area.

Dr. Richard Kneisley, who has a dental practice at 5677 Scioto Darby Road, told commission members at certain times of the day "there is no place for my patients to park."

Sunrise Academy officials told commission members that the school leased 12 parking spots for staff members at an office across the street. Kneisley said more spots often are occupied at certain times of the day.

Michele Pershing of Revere Drive, a residential street behind the school, told commission members about early-morning noise from a waste-collection service and other noise-making activity outside of normal business hours.

"We have a right to some peace and quiet," she said.

Sunrise Academy opened in 1996 at the former site of the Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

"(The library) moved because they outgrew it and they are moving again," Lewie said.

He said Sunrise Academy similarly has outgrown the facility and needs to find a "more suitable" location.

Sunrise Academy has 340 students enrolled for the upcoming school year but that figure is expected to increase, Tarazi said.

The school began last year with 385 students and ended with 370.

The conditional-use permit would have capped enrollment at 385, Denny said.

Sunrise Academy officials said the purpose of the expansion request was not to increase enrollment but rather to provide improved amenities, including a library and a computer lab.

Sunrise Academy enrolls students from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade from throughout central Ohio.

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