Sandy Springs City Council on Oct. 19 approved a change that allows private schools in property zoned “Office Neighborhood” but restricted them to a 150-student limit.

City Councilmember Andy Bauman, who made a motion to approve the change, said leaving private schools, museums and libraries off the “ON” zoning designation appeared to be an oversight.

The Chaya Mushka Children’s House can now apply for a conditional use permit which, if approved, would allow the school to remain at its location at 5180 Roswell Road.

Bauman’s motion also made the uses conditional, which will bring every request for a private school into the zoning application process, which includes community meetings as well as planning commission and city council hearings.

“Presently, private schools, museums and libraries are allowed in all the other commercial districts as either a permitted use or limited use, with the exception of shopfront mixed-use, and Perimeter residential. We feel that this text amendment corrects an error, which is one of the approval criteria for a text amendment,” Community Development Director Ginger Sottile told City Council.

All parcels zoned ON are south of I-285 on Roswell Road, she said.

Trisha Thompson of River North Drive said the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods supported the text amendment with the limit to 150 students instead of staff’s suggested 250-student limit.

“Further we suggest that you consider the fact that there are contiguous parcels throughout this district. We’d like reassurance that any school [does] not expand willy nilly beyond their allowable footprint. We’d rather not be presented with ‘better to ask forgiveness, than permission’ to ensure that this does not happen,” she said.

Chaya Mushka Children’s House is in that position, having opened three years ago at 5180 Roswell Road on a parcel zoned ON that did not allow private schools. The school now must apply for a conditional use permit to stay open on the site.

Joe Shanley of High Point Road spoke on behalf of the High Point Civic Association to oppose any changes to land use character maps. The text amendment just rewards the school for ignoring the city’s land use plan for the past three years, he said. Twenty-six properties are zoned ON in the High Point area, he said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.