Sagewillow school reaches finish—almost
P&Z approves design of
project’s first phase
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
In a subdued and expedient
close to a long and often turbulent saga, Sun Valley Planning and Zoning
commissioners Tuesday, June 10, issued design approval to The Community School
for its plans to develop a new elementary campus on its Sagewillow property in
After crafting a set of 17
detailed conditions, the panel voted unanimously to approve the design and
layout of the first phase of the project, which includes plans for three
buildings at the 30-acre site.
Lori Labrum, project manager
for The Community School, applauded softly after the motion by Commissioner Mark
Pynn was endorsed.
Comments from the
commissioners were few during the 90-minute review. "I think you did a good
job," said Commissioner Blair Boand, after seeing a revised set of lighting
plans for the project.
The vote was a critical
victory for The Community School, whose representatives have appeared before the
P&Z more than a dozen times in the last 13 months to promote the project.
The P&Z will likely be scheduled to formally approve the findings of fact
and conditions for the project at its next meeting June 24.
However, the school has not
cleared all of the hurdles necessary to immediately proceed with the project. A
lawsuit filed against the city for its decision to approve a conditional-use
permit for the project is yet to be resolved. In addition, the P&Z decision
rendered Tuesday can be appealed and brought to the Sun Valley City Council for
At issue Tuesday was a plan
by The Community School to develop three buildings on the Sagewillow site that
would total approximately 21,000 square feet.
As the first phase of its
development plans, the school proposed to construct a new "Community
Room" building and a separate classroom building, as well as to convert the
existing stables on the property into an administrative building and "Early
Childhood Center," or preschool.
170-square-foot observatory that was originally planned to be included in the
first phase of construction has been put on hold indefinitely.
determined that an Events Management Plan—designed to regulate school sports
and cultural events on the campus—must be completed this summer for review by
the P&Z on Aug. 26. The school will not be issued a building permit for the
project until the plan is deemed adequate and approved by the city, the panel
Other conditions of approval
will strictly limit parking stalls, indoor and outdoor lighting, and the use of
the public portion of Arrowleaf Road for loading or unloading students.
No public testimony was taken
Tuesday. Commissioners did review two letters pertaining to the project,
including one from Elkhorn resident Charlie Foss objecting to the project
because of potential traffic, noise, pollution and the loss of open space.
The Community School
submitted its design-review application for the project after an approximately
nine-month battle to gain approval of a conditional-use permit for the plan. The
P&Z in January unanimously approved the CUP with a long, six-page set of
The CUP approval was appealed
by three groups to the Sun Valley City Council, which ultimately upheld the
P&Z decision. However, a contingent of residents who live along Arrowleaf
Road—the only access point to and from the proposed school—in April filed a
lawsuit against the city claiming that it acted unlawfully in issuing the
The design-review approval
issued Tuesday will pertain only to the first phase of the project. Additional
phases would likely include a library, additional classrooms and a multi-purpose
improvements to the school’s existing Trail Creek campus—has been estimated
to cost $10 million.