GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board unanimously recommended approval of a pair of requests made by the Gainesville City Board of Education Tuesday evening, paving the way for a much-needed second middle school for the district.
Four parcels are involved in the requests submitted to the board. Two adjacent parcels total 5.934-acres and are currently in unincorporated Hall County; the school board is requesting their annexation into the city. The other two parcels total 16.67-acres and are already within city limits.
If the Gainesville City Council votes to annex the 5.934-acres into the city when they meet on August 4th, then the school district wants all four properties (a combined 22.6-acres) rezoned to Office-Industrial (O-I) so as to allow for the construction of a two-story school building containing 183,400-square feet of space.
The new school will be capable of accommodating 1275 students once completed. Primary access and egress to school property will be off McEver Road with a secondary access off Gould Drive.
Gainesville City School Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Williams told GPAB members the proposed site is strategically located. “All of our growth over the last decade has been on the southwest side of the city. This (project) would allow us to eliminate Mundy Mill Elementary School, Gainesville Exploration Academy and a portion of Centennial Arts Academy (from having to travel across town to the current lone middle school).”
One unique aspect of the school board’s dual application is obtaining a special-use variance. A 1246-square feet single-family rental home along Gould Drive is in a corner of the combined parcels and is presently occupied. The school district is requesting to continue the current arrangement and allow the tenants to remain in the house.
Dr. Williams said after the GPAB meeting, “There’s a family in there now and we don’t feel like it’s right to kick them out. So we just want to work with the family until we start breaking ground and get ready to open a school and then once that’s done then we’ll work with the family to make it as convenient as possible for them.”
Williams said he was unaware of any opposition to the school board’s requests; no one spoke against the annexations and rezonings at Tuesday’s GPAB meeting. The next opportunity for public comment will be when the Gainesville City Council meets on Tuesday, August 4th at 5:30 p.m. to decide the matter.