By Parker LeavittThe Republic | azcentral.com Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:39 AM
Six months after Gilbert residents successfully fought plans for a mental-health hospital near Greenfield and Baseline roads, the undeveloped lot is now slated for a charter school — and appears to have the blessing of its future neighbors.
Great Hearts Academies, which operates more than a dozen schools across the Valley, plans to build a K-12 campus on a 9-acre lot at the southwestern corner of Baseline Road and Quinn Avenue.
The charter school will have room for about 1,150 students in four buildings with a total of 73,000 square feet, according to a Gilbert Planning Department report.
The town’s Planning Commission on Oct. 23 unanimously approved a conditional-use permit allowing Great Hearts to open the school in a general-commercial zoning district, which is typically reserved for large-scale retail, service, office and entertainment facilities.
Great Hearts plans to begin construction in December and expects to open in time for the 2014-2015 school year, according to documents submitted to the town.
While Gilbert planners initially had concerns over the school’s traffic impact during peak dropoff and pickup times, Great Hearts was able to persuade the town that its circulation plan would help mitigate the effect on surrounding properties.
Phoenix land-use attorney Stephen Earl, representing Great Hearts, said the school plans to have faculty members assigned to the parking lot before and after classes begin to help direct vehicles and ensure parents comply with traffic rules.
The project will include restriping lane lines at the intersection of Greenfield and Baseline roads to install dual left-turn lanes for northbound and southbound traffic, officials said. A new traffic signal at Quinn Avenue will include left-turn arrows for drivers on Baseline Road.
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