Traffic, parking and pedestrian safety are issues Hilliard officials say need resolved before Sunrise Academy High School would be permitted to open fully in the Hometown Urgent Care building at 5677 Scioto Darby Road purchased by the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus earlier this year.
“I’m uncomfortable with what’s being proposed,” Mayor Don Schonhardt said during a Sept. 12 Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at which a conditional-use permit for the building was discussed. Schonhardt is a member of the commission.
“This is an 11th-hour revised (traffic) plan, (and) you can’t expect us to digest it all tonight,” commission member Jay Muether said.
After several commission members indicated the application for the permit would not be approved Sept. 12, Mark Denny, an architect representing the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, asked that it be postponed until Oct. 10.
The high school would be associated with Sunrise Academy, a chartered Islamic school next door at 5657 Scioto Darby Road in Hilliard.
Sunrise Academy worked with city officials to create a traffic plan for the high school, but concerns expressed Sept. 12 included the number of vehicles that utilize the parking lot at the urgent care to pick up students at the next-door Sunrise Academy and how students would cross between the schools, city planner John Talentino said.
Commission members also said the school could create more traffic in an area where several Hilliard City Schools buildings – including Hilliard Darby High School – and the Hilliard Family Aquatic Center inside the Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park are nearby.
City officials will review the traffic plan and continue to work with the applicant, Talentino said.
Although a conditional-use permit is a requirement for an occupancy permit, an applicant is allowed to file a pending building permit – also a prerequisite for an occupancy permit – while a conditional-use permit is under consideration, he said.
Denny filed a building permit Sept. 13, Talentino said.
Sunrise Academy opened in 1996 at the southeast corner of Scioto Darby Road and Veterans Memorial Drive. That facility is for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.
It also is the only chartered Islamic school in central Ohio, Mona Salti, principal of Sunrise Academy, told ThisWeek in May.
ThisWeek was unable to confirm that through the Ohio Department of Education.
“The (Ohio) Department of Education does not track schools by religious affiliation,” Carolyn Cypret, the ODE’s assistant director of media relations, told ThisWeek in May.
But academy leaders are interested in adding high school education.
The Islamic Society of Greater Columbus purchased the neighboring 13,000-square-foot Hometown Urgent Care building on 4 acres at the southwest corner of Scioto Darby Road and Veterans Memorial Drive in February for $1.05 million from Heritage Medical LLC.
The lease with the urgent care expires in February 2020, but it might vacate the property earlier, said Mouhamed Tarazi, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus.
The conditional-use permit is required for Sunrise Academy to use the parts of the building occupied by the urgent care as a school, Denny said.
Four high school students already are permitted to attend classes in the 5677 Scioto Darby Road building, in a part not used by Hometown Urgent Care; a conditional-use permit for that was approved in May, according to Tarazi and city planner John Talentino.
If the proposal for a full high school were approved, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students would be moved from the original Sunrise Academy to join the students at the high school, Tarazi said.
The high school would have a capacity of 175 students, Tarazi said.
Plans also call for increasing from 73 to 105 the number of parking spots for the high school.