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Thread: Conditional requirements for public schools

  1. #1
    Cyburbian IlliniPlanner's avatar
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    Conditional requirements for public schools

    We're currently putting the final touches on the revision of our Zoning Ordinance and the point of contention that I have with the department's counsel (does not serve as the City's counsel) is that it has been recommended that PUBLIC and private schools be lumped together as a conditional (or special use) in residence districts. Currently PUBLIC schools are permitted uses and private schools are conditional uses. Nobody knows why there was this difference which is why they have been proposed to be lumped together. My thoughts (as off-base as they might be) on why PUBLIC schools are listed as permitted uses are the following:

    1. PUBLIC schools are funded with the public's (community's) tax dollars.
    2. PUBLIC schools are built as a necessity based on population. If you allow private schools to open up, you may be taking children out of the PUBLIC schools, lowering the PUBLIC school's enrollment rate, which can lower financing for the PUBLIC schools.
    3. PUBLIC schools cannot be regulated by the local jurisdiction, and that they're regulated only by the state.

    Am I off-base? Does anyone else have conditional/special use permit requirements for a PUBLIC school? Not certain if requirements are different from state to state, but I am in Illinois, so anyone who is in Illinois would be of great help.
    One lot of redevelopment prevents a block of sprawl.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    hmm didn't know that IL had the same charter school problem MI does.

    We've seen options shrink under the system. For example, most Catholic and Luthuren schools cannot sustain parish based schools with this new model. The result? Most of them are now charter schools because the schools have money to pay the church rent. This has the impact of putting even more children into the public system and eliminating the benefit formerly derived from parents who payed taxes but used alternative schools.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by IlliniPlanner View post
    Am I off-base? Does anyone else have conditional/special use permit requirements for a PUBLIC school? Not certain if requirements are different from state to state, but I am in Illinois, so anyone who is in Illinois would be of great help.
    In my northwest suburb of Chicago, we have public and private as special uses, but listing public schools, in general, is pointless because they are not even subject to our regulations. So, what's the point of even having them in the zoning code?

    Tell your people to just get tired of public school from the code.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    In my northwest suburb of Chicago, we have public and private as special uses, but listing public schools, in general, is pointless because they are not even subject to our regulations. So, what's the point of even having them in the zoning code?
    We list public and private schools as a conditional use, but same here - public schools are exempt from local zoning in MI.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Since one of the primary reasons for zoning is to help mitigate the negative impacts uses may have on surrounding properties, why should public and private schools be treated differently if the impacts on traffic, parking, etc are going to be essentially the same? Here the level of review is dependent upon both the size of the proposed school and the zoning district in which it lies. however, all schools in all residential districts are conditional uses.

    Considering the issues of bus staging, teacher parking, parent pick-up, property crime and other potential impacts to residential neighborhoods, it only makes sense that schools should have to be reviewed so closely.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by biscuit View post
    Since one of the primary reasons for zoning is to help mitigate the negative impacts uses may have on surrounding properties, why should public and private schools be treated differently if the impacts on traffic, parking, etc are going to be essentially the same? Here the level of review is dependent upon both the size of the proposed school and the zoning district in which it lies. however, all schools in all residential districts are conditional uses.

    Considering the issues of bus staging, teacher parking, parent pick-up, property crime and other potential impacts to residential neighborhoods, it only makes sense that schools should have to be reviewed so closely.
    I don't know the authority given to public schools in your state, but in my state such schools are exempt from our review..totally...we don't even get to do building code inspections, etc. So, in my situation, what's the point of even listing them in the zoning code?

    I understand that a school are signicant traffic and safety impacts, but we only get to review those for private schools. Public schools are guided by a State mandated/maintained board and codes and is an agent of the State, which supercedes our municipal authority.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Private and public educational facilities are defined and terated similarly in our ordinance. Like biscuit says- same impacts regardless of whether its private or public, plus they both offer similar public benefits.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    lol I just realized this is a zoning question!

    Needless to say I guess you now know how I feel about charter schools!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    SW Planner is right, in Michigan the public schools are exempt from zoning. If I remember correctly the case law was in Wyoming Michigan which is in SW Michigan. What is kind of strange, is that schools are exempt from the building code. They are inspected by the State Fire Marshals Office. When I came to MI, I had to adjust to this and it still seems strange
    I haven't to deal with public schools in the last couple of years because most of them are closing. So if there is more recent information, I would appreciate it.
    Also because I seem to move a lot, I am interested in what happens in other states also.
    these are usually hot issues and when I have had to deal with them in the past, the room would be filled to capacity and on more than one occasion, because of fire occupancy we had to relocate to a larger building.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    The issue of possible exemption has never come up in our community.

    Generally we have a very good reputation for planning, and the schools want to cooperate with the community for public relations purposes, at least. They also generally trust that the Planning Commission and Community Development staff is knowledgeable about good planning practices, and they want to do the best they can within the community.

    We determine the districts in which they can go, and there is no argurment there.

    We review site plans and they listen and accept the practical recommendations we make. They accept set-backs, height limits, etc.

    One weakness we have is on parking requirements. We have no specific ratio for schools, and when we asked for their rationale as to how many they provided, they just said that was plenty and didn't need any more based on their experience. The Planning Commission accepted that without even knowing how many teachers, staff, or teenagers were at the school. To me, this was unacceptable, but the Planning Commission chose not to press the issue.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    We list public and private schools as a conditional use, but same here - public schools are exempt from local zoning in MI.
    Could you tell me whether non instructional facilities such as maintenance garages are exempt from local zoning in MI as are the direct instructional facilities (school buildings Etc)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Here's a followup:

    Are public/private schools (K-12 eduation only) allowed in districts other than residential? Commercial districts? Office districts? etc?

    I'm looking for data for a proposed zoning text change.

  13. #13
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Here's a followup:

    Are public/private schools (K-12 eduation only) allowed in districts other than residential? Commercial districts? Office districts? etc?

    I'm looking for data for a proposed zoning text change.
    Here, they are listed within 7 of the 8 residential districts and the institutional district.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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