City OKs per­mit for pri­vate school

The Covington News - - NEWS - SAN­DRA BRANDS sbrands@cov­

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil ap­proved a Spe­cial Use Per­mit for Al­pha Omega Prepara­tory Academy, a pri­vate school for kinder­garten through 12th grade stu­dents.

The build­ing the school would oc­cupy is on a 1.84 acre lot at 7188 Turner Lake Cir­cle, cur­rently zoned for Com­mer­cial Man­u­fac­tur­ing. Zon­ing does not per­mit a school to open in the area. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to City Plan­ner Scott Gaither, who pro­vided in­for­ma­tion on the per­mit re­quest to the coun­cil and held a pub­lic hear­ing, the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mit­tee and staff recommended award­ing the school the per­mit.

“The ap­pli­cants have ad­dressed the eight points needed for an SUP,” Gaither told the coun­cil. Those in­clude fil­ing a pro­posed plan con­sis­tent with zon­ing dis­trict re­quire­ments, com­pat­i­bil­ity of pro­posed use with land uses on sur­round­ing prop­er­ties, ad­e­quacy and com­pli­ance for safety of the build­ing, struc­tures and its im­pact on pub­lic streets and the county’s waste­water treat­ment, and whether or not the fa­cil­ity will have an ad­verse im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

Owned by Phillip and Wanda Daven­port, Al­pha Omega Prepara­tory Academy was pre­vi­ously lo­cated at 55 Crow­ell Road in Cov­ing­ton. It opened in 2006. Orig­i­nally, said Wanda Daven­port, who runs the academy, the school started to serve the home school pop­u­la­tion.

Her hus­band taught in the New­ton County School Sys­tem for 21 years and cur­rently teaches in Henry County. He said, “We’ve been at Crow­ell Road of 10 years. We’ve never had a fight in our school. Our teachers try to help our kids – we try to help our stu­dents aca­dem­i­cally and try to make sure our kids are go­ing to be suc­cess­ful her and in the world. Our vi­sion is to pro­duce stu­dents who are life-long learn­ers.”

He said the build­ing on Turner Lake Cir­cle was laid out like a school with 10 class­rooms and a small out­door area for chil­dren. It has the ca­pac­ity to serve 200 stu­dents, though the Daven­ports didn’t ex­pect to have that many en­roll­ments.

How­ever, Wanda told the coun­cil they do hope to grow in size, and that the lot next to them may be avail­able later on for devel­op­ment.

The school, she said, re­ceived a tra­di­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion through the Ge­or­gia Ac­cred­it­ing Com­mis­sion.

An­swer­ing ques­tions about the im­pact of the nearby home­less shel­ter on the school, the Daven­ports re­sponded by say­ing they didn’t think it would be a prob­lem.

“The build­ing is very se­cure,” Phillip said.

Fol­low­ing the pub­lic hear­ing, the coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to ap­prove the SUP. LIGHTS TO RE­MAIN ON THE SQUARE

The coun­cil tabled a dis­cus­sion on pro­pos­als for the re­align­ment project for the City Pond Road and Old City Pond Road.

Orig­i­nally plan­ning to ta­ble a dis­cus­sion of per­ma­nent re­moval of the traf­fic lights on the Square, Mayor Ron­nie John­ston, after a quick con­sul­ta­tion with City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight, asked the coun­cil to not ta­ble the res­o­lu­tion, but to make a mo­tion to “vote on re­moval based on the fact the at­tor­neys will have un­til Septem­ber to re­search any ad­di­tional prob­lems.”

John­ston said the lights wouldn’t be re­moved un­til Septem­ber. When Coun­cil Mem­ber Ocie Franklin, Post 3 West, asked why they couldn’t wait to vote in Septem­ber, John­ston said the re­moval would need to be sched­uled in ad­vance of Septem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to As­sis­tant City Man­ager Billy Bouch­illon, “We wanted to get coun­cil’s ap­proval so we could get con­trac­tor bids. We want to see how school traf­fic func­tions with­out the lights.”

The re­quest to turn off the lights at the in­ter­sec­tions of Floyd and Pace streets and Wash­ing­ton and Mon­ti­cello streets was made in April and went in to ef­fect on May 2. A pre­vi­ous re­quest to turn off the lights in June was post­poned.

John­ston said if at­tor­neys find some­thing wrong, the coun­cil can vote again later not to re­move the lights. The coun­cil voted 4 to 1 to ap­prove the res­o­lu­tion. The coun­cil also: Ap­proved a con­tract for ac­qui­si­tion of right-ofways on the side­walks where the Emory Street Pedes­trian Bridge will be­gin and end. The cost for the right-of-way is $75,000 but Knight said it wouldn’t cost city. The mo­tion passed unan­i­mously. Ap­proved a con­tract with Aqua Terra of Ox­ford for $215,884 to im­prove drainage on Dried In­dian Creek on Pace Street south of Emory. Ac­cord­ing to Knight, silt, veg­e­ta­tion and trash have plugged up the drains that pre­vent flood­ing of land ly­ing be­tween Pace and Emory Street. The counil voted unan­i­mously to ap­prove the con­tract. Ap­proved a road clo­sure for July 9 be­tween 6. and 7:30 a.m. for the in­stal­la­tion of an HVAC unit at Lend­mark Bank on Usher Street. CLEAN UP DAY A SUC­CESS

All coun­cil mem­bers ex­pressed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the vol­un­teers who turned out for the Cov­ing­ton Cares clean-up. Woven into many of their com­ments was sup­port for the city’s staff, in­clud­ing the po­lice depart­ment.

Knight be­gan by ex­press­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the city’s pub­lic safety staff. “This is a trou­bling time and [we need to be] wrap­ping them in prayer each and ev­ery day so they can go home to their fam­i­lies each and ev­ery night.”

“I was so happy to see the turn out,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber Ocie Franklin, Post 3 West. “It was very suc­cess­ful.

“I just pray and hope that we stay as we are,” she said. “Our prayers and heart goes out to the po­lice and to the young men’s fam­i­lies. I don’t know the sit­u­a­tion. I thank God for our po­lice depart­ment. They are our pro­tec­tors.”

Dur­ing coun­cil com­ments, mem­bers shared the opin­ion that the Cov­ing­ton Cares clean up on July 16 had been a suc­cess.

Coun­cil Mem­ber Ken­neth Mor­gan said the clean up was ex­cel­lent. “Thanks for putting forth all the ef­fort. One thing that I would really like for all of us to re­al­ize is we are all ci­ti­zens of Cov­ing­ton. It doesn’t mat­ter whether you’re from the west or east. At the end of the day, it’s about Cov­ing­ton Cares.”

Coun­cil Mem­ber Hawnethia Wil­liams, Post 2 West, said, “It be­hooves us to be con­cerned about all of our depart­ments. The fire and po­lice depart­ments are in harm’s way, but all depart­ments [need sup­port] be­cause peo­ple some­times be­come scape­goats.

“We know all of our staff are vis­i­ble in the com­mu­nity,” she said. “We’d like a spe­cial prayer for all our city work­ers. We’re a spe­cial city. We are the type of peo­ple who will weather the storms that come here. God bless Cov­ing­ton, Ge­or­gia.”

John­ston ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the vol­un­teers and staff who turned out last Satur­day for the Cov­ing­ton Cares clean up in the Stone Moun­tain neigh­bor­hood. “The fact that some of these peo­ple are strug­gling and we gave them some hope — it’s a big deal. It’s about say­ing we care, we give a damn. We’re defin­ing what the soul of the city is.”

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Cov­ing­ton News

Vol­un­teers jo­ing Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil mem­bers and staff at a Cov­ing­ton Cares clean-up on July 16 in the Stone Moun­tain neigh­bor­hood off of Emory Street.

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