In a 4-2 split decision Aug. 7, Whitehall City Council members approved a special permit to allow Grace Educational and Tutoring Center to operate at a Bernhard Road church.

The Rev. Berhanu Arsse, pastor of the Ebenezer Ethiopian Evangelical Church, 700 Bernhard Road, said Aug. 10 the church wants to "reach out to the community" by making its building available to the tutoring center.

Council members Wes Kantor and Larry Morrison voted against the special permit required for the tutoring center. Councilwoman Joanna Keck was absent.

Kantor said Aug. 9 he was not satisfied with the applicant's responses, which he considered to be too vague, about how the center would operate.

"The residents didn't want it," he said, adding he listened to his constituents.

The church opened in June 2017.

According to the authorizing legislation, the center is limited to having 30 students each day and instruction must occur inside the building.

Hours of operation are limited to 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday when Whitehall schools are in session, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday during summer and winter breaks.

No classes will be held on government holidays.

Enrollment is limited to Whitehall students and classes are expected to begin in conjunction with the start of classes Monday, Aug. 20, for Whitehall schools.