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Zoning panel approves International School move

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The International School of Columbus will move into a former East Columbus church building in time for the 2013-14 school year.

Members of the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals voted 6-0 during a meeting Tuesday to give a conditional-use permit for the property at 51 N. Brooks St., once the site of The Ridge Church.

About 50 people showed up, some of them neighbors and some of them school representatives, said Tom Weintraut, a planner in the city planning department. Only one audience member spoke, and that person was in favor of the project.

A conditional-use permit is required for a school to operate in a residential neighborhood, according to zoning laws.

Jonah Sims, head of school at the International School, 3136 N. National Road, said he and other school officials now are turning their attention toward meeting the city government’s conditions that came with permit approval.

Those conditions include installing a 20-foot wide driveway off Brooks Street, landscaping the northern side of the property as a buffer from houses and eliminating stone gravel areas, according to a planning staff report.

Sims said the two buildings on the property would be made accessible to people with disabilities as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. He said the buildings also would be remodeled and equipped with a sprinkler system.

Work on the buildings should be done by the end of the current school year, Sims said. He said the move to the Brooks Street location would begin the first week of summer break in August.

“It will be very positive for the community and for our school. We’re here to stay,” Sims said.

Neighbors of the school’s future site supported the school’s plan from the beginning. Those who attended a meeting with school officials Feb. 23 said they liked that the school would not generate much traffic and that it might improve property values.

Human Services Inc., an agency that provides assistance programs such as Head Start preschool to income-eligible families, had sought in 2011 to move to the Brooks Street property. Its proposal was scrapped when Columbus City Council members voted unanimously against it in October 2011 amid neighbors’ concerns that there would be a large spike in traffic.

At a glance

The Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals adopted these conditions when it approved a conditional-use permit for the International School of Columbus to operate at 51 N. Brooks St.:

Install a 20-foot-wide, two-lane paved driveway off Brooks Street.

Install landscaping along the north side of the property.

Remove a tree from the south side of the planned driveway to accommodate fire trucks in emergencies.

Close the gravel driveway, leaving the proposed two-lane driveway as the only access point to the property.

Convert the remaining gravel areas to green spaces.

Remove or alter directional areas in the parking lot to reflect the new circulation patterns for student drop-offs.

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