Fruitland City Council directs TVCA and zoning commission to find solutions

Fruitland city leaders granted Treasure Valley Classical Academy’s zoning appeal Monday and remanded the issue to the zoning department for further negotiations and a public hearing.

Following a 20-minute executive session, the City Council resolved the request quickly by passing a motion to approve the school’s appeal. Parents, students, grandparents and supporters showed their support for the four-year-old charter school by filling the council’s chambers.

“We had lots and lots of support present. It was standing room only,” said Stephen Lambert, executive director of American Classical Schools of Idaho and founding principal of TVCA.

“It’s very gratifying,” he said about the turnout Monday night.

Without the council’s favorable decision, the school’s $7.5 million planned construction of a new middle and high school in downtown was essentially stopped. In June, the planning and zoning commission abruptly denied a conditional use permit, citing in its denial traffic issues, project costs and impact to the area.

Tuesday morning, building and zoning clerk Beth Earles had not received any notice from the city council or TVCA. Once it’s received in that office, it will be placed on the “earliest agenda where we are able to meet the state’s publishing requirements,” she said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is next scheduled to meet in City Hall on Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. Lambert is hopeful the permit request would be on the August agenda.

“I think it’ll give us a fair hearing, so I appreciate that,” said Lambert.

The new hearing will “give us an opportunity to bring mitigation and improvements to the table that we just didn’t have time to talk about, because we didn’t have time to respond” at the June 13 commission meeting, he said.

“We believe that we’re going to bring forward some positive improvements that will address and mitigate the concerns,” Lambert added.

But that will come at a cost.

To mitigate the traffic and infrastructure concerns raised by zoning commissioners, Lambert estimates the project will cost an additional $1 million to $1.5 million. Rather than $7.5 million, the TVCA upper campus could top $9 million.

The campus is planned for 8.62 acres at the corner of North Arizona Avenue and Northwest 13th Street, southeast of St. Luke’s Clinic. The upper campus would include three new academic buildings, a gym and cafeteria, a bus parking cul-de-sac, a 150-vehicle parking lot and a soccer field. The new campus would serve seventh- through 12th-graders.

“If tonight is any indication, (parents) are strongly supportive of us being successful in the appeals process and ultimately getting the campus built that we need,” Lambert said after the meeting.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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