Council members said they liked the idea of having a charter school in their town, but they didn’t like it enough to overlook concerns by neighbors who worried that the Poole Road location of a Cardinal Charter School would have too much of a negative impact on them.
Council members Wednesday night unanimously rejected a request to rezone the 13-acre site after reviewing changes made by the developer, Ryan Companies US, immediately prior to the council’s Dec. 7 meeting. At that meeting, council members had opened a public hearing to consider the matter and heard from neighboring property owners that roadway improvements being required by the N.C. Department of Transportation would cause problems.
Developers for the project had sought quick approval for the project because of the timing. They hoped to construct the two-story, 68,000-square-foot school in time to let teachers have access to the building before the start of school in the fall. Cardinal Charter ultimately expected the K-12 school to educate 1,145 students each year.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, some of those neighbors returned to reiterate their concerns. Like council members, both speakers at Wednesday night’s hearing said they liked the idea of having a charter school in the community, but worried that a requirement to build a turn lane at the intersection of Poole and Hodge roads would cause hardships for business at Paul Lee’s store, which sits in the northeast corner of that intersection.
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DOT officials required the construction of a turn lane on westbound Poole Road for traffic turning right onto Hodge Road. Building that turn lane would consume a portion of the parking lot at the store and, according to Robert Lee, who operates the family business.
“I’m for the school, sort of, but if they have to put a turn lane in, I guess I would have to be against it,” Lee told council members.
Billy Myrick, who also spoke at the Dec. 7 public hearing, stood before council again Wednesday and suggested that, if property needed to be taken to create the turn lane, developers should look at property on the other side of Poole Road.
Despite the concerns about the intersection at Poole and Hodge roads, council members, voiced additional concerns about the location of the school property, which is tucked in among residential subdivisions and would empty out onto Poole Road. That stretch of road is currently a two-lane road, but developers would be required to build turn lanes at the school to ease traffic flow for cars entering the school.
“I don’t think this site is conducive to a school. We are going to add 800 cars at peak times. There are stacking problems, issues at the site, problems to the west at the store. I’m not opposed to Cardinal Charter locating in Knightdale, but not at this site,” Mangum said.
Mayor pro tem Mike Chalk voiced the same concerns. “I love the idea of a charter school in Knightdale. I think it would be great, but this site is not. The intensity there would be wrong,” Chalk said.