McKinney Christian Academy looks to add portable buildings


Overview

Published: 03/10/2014

by McKinney Courier-Gazette

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The private school, located at 3601 Bois D’Arc Road, has requested that the city rezone about 60 acres to allow the addition of two portable buildings and one storage building at its campus. The site has six permanent buildings and 11 portables that can remain there indefinitely.

The planning and zoning commission approved the request, but city staff members on Tuesday recommended that the McKinney City Council deny it because they said the campus would then not satisfy city architectural standards.

Public schools are allowed portable units indefinitely that don’t need to meet those standards, but city staff members said MCA should comply with a city zoning ordinance regarding design and development.

School officials said the addition would alleviate “teacher roaming” between classrooms and would provide a more suitable educational environment. The school has 560 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The portables would provide room for 100 students – two 25-student classrooms in each. The school aims to use them until they can build more permanent space. Officials hope to grow enrollment to 900 students.

To expand with permanent buildings, though, the school must conduct a feasibility study and a capital campaign – a process that could take at least four to five years, said Bob Lovelady, MCA head of school.

“We’re going to have to cap off and close sections of grade levels if we don’t get more space,” Lovelady said. “We’re pushing it now.”

The addition would be south of Bois D’Arc, about 800 feet west of Jordan Road. City ordinance bars approval of the request without ensuring “exceptional quality or innovation for the associated design or development,” the city staff’s report states.

School officials said they’d meet that requirement by adding landscaping along the south and west sides of the portables, and Lovelady said they’d ensure a “very aesthetic, appealing look” to the portables and the entire campus.

City staff members said the landscaping wasn’t enough to ensure the desired quality for the whole site. The additions would exceed the maximum number of portables approved by the city council in 2011.

The city received only one letter of opposition to the request, Lovelady said, but two residents spoke against it Tuesday. Marty Webb, who lives nearby, said “portables are a fancy word for double-wide.” Jerry Laplank said that in 2004, the city granted MCA a seven-year timeline for portable buildings, but the school just asked for more portables in 2011.

City officials want to address traffic congestion around the school, possibly before approving any additions. Cockrill Middle School, Lawson Early Childhood School, Imagine International Academy of North Texas and McKinney North High School are all near MCA, which contributes to heavy traffic at pickup and drop-off times.

Michael Quint, city planning director, said staff members are looking into how to get more cars off Bois D’Arc and surrounding roads and onto the MCA site.

The city council tabled MCA’s request until its next meeting March 16.