Several months ago, St. Mark’s and the Day School acquired a new house across the street with the hopes and plans of expanding our day school to include infants (current enrollment is 1-4 years old). This is an exciting time for the school, planning to offer high quality infant care to working mothers and fathers who need good care for their babies during the day. The Day School purchased the house, hired an architect to change the house for fire codes and safety, and we applied to the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission for a “change of use” exception, allowing us to use the house as an infant care facility. The JMAPC denied our request, citing safety concerns regarding mothers and children crossing the street in front of the church.
The church and school are now proceeding to the City Council to ask them to reconsider granting our exception that would allow us to operate the day school in this house. The city council meeting is on December 15 at 5:15pm in the Municipal Building on Church Street. If you would like to come and support our request, please do so.
Details and Background Info:
Four primary concerns were raised regarding our infant house:
- Safety crossing the street during drop-off and pickup.
- The appearance of the house would change significantly and look like a “business” instead of a “house.”
- Increase in traffic flow on W. College Ave
- The Day School is a “commercial enterprise” and should not operate in a residential zone.
- Safety is very important, and after hearing this concern we have instructed our architect to include plans for a circle drive for safe drop-off and pickup without having to cross the street.
- Appearance: while we are required to make some exterior changes to the house to ensure safety in case of fire (ramps to exit the bedrooms so we can quickly get all the infants to safety), the changes to the house are not so drastic that it would cease to look like a house. Any other potential owner of the house could install ramps to make it more easily accessible to someone using a wheel chair. Our ramps will look no different, and still be “house-like”. They will proceed on the west side of the house, and have emergency exits from each sleeping room.
- Traffic flow: While twelve infants will bring a small increase in traffic flow to the area, we believe that it will be so little no one will even notice. There are already thousands who attend the high school just down the road, and even our own day school has over 140 children. Twelve more will make no measurable difference to the traffic in this area or street.
- Day Schools and churches are common exceptions to a purely residential zone. St. Mark’s Day School (a nonprofit 501c3) has operated at its current location since for forty years with no problem.
I want to help St. Mark’s
You can help us open our infant house by attending the meeting on December 15 at 5:15pm in the Municipal Building on Church Street.
You can also help us by calling or writing your city council representative, and ask them to grant this exception and allow us to offer infant care at St. Mark’s Day School.