A conditional use permit for private school and daycare use at the former Highpoint Episcopal Church site at 4945 High Point Road was approved by Sandy Springs City Council on Jan. 19.

St. Martin’s Episcopal School, based on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven, scaled back its request for children back down to 60 after asking for an increase to 100 in its last community meeting and at the Planning Commission.

The daycare use received community support, as long as the school sticks to 60 students.

“We have heard from them a request to extend their enrollment to 100. We’re happy to hear that they are not going that far,” said Duffy Hickey, president of the High Point Community Association and a neighbor to the property. “We want them to start with 60 we’re really happy with that change of plan. And, you know, we look forward to a successful school that enhances our neighborhood and creates a great relationship between our neighbors, our association and St. Martin’s.”

Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, shared her board’s support of the daycare use.

“This use will breathe new life into a currently nearly dormant church facility that just a year ago, unfortunately, lost the last of its long attending congregation,” Smith said. “It is the Council of Neighborhoods’ hope that this use will have minimal impact on the surrounding protective neighborhoods, as it does add additional car trips during the peak hours to High Point Road where three other school uses already exist.”

Those schools include High Point Elementary, Atlanta Jewish Academy and Congregation Beth Tefillah’s preschool.

Two large yellow school buses parked on the site along one neighbor’s property line, and four shuttle buses across the parking lot near another residential property, drew concern from neighbors that it would become a parking lot.

Den Webb, an attorney representing the school, said the two large buses and two of the shuttle buses would be removed from the property. The new daycare and preschool would need two shuttle buses to transport older students from High Point Road to Brookhaven for opportunities not offered in Sandy Springs. Those include a science lab, an art studio and a library.

“The intent is to allow the older students at the daycare to have access to those who may be ferried back and forth on the shuttle buses,” he said.

He offered another condition that allowed the school to park two shuttle buses overnight on site.

City Council approved the conditional use permit, adding Webb’s condition to city planning staff’s requirements on the site.

The public hearing was held in a hybrid fashion with councilmembers, local residents and staff in their offices and homes. A few staff members were in the City Springs Studio Theater to follow the requirement to offer in-person public comment, though the only public comment came via Zoom and a written comment.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.