Despite objections from neighbors, the Lafayette Planning Commission approved plans Tuesday night for a 30-student preschool at a neighborhood church.
The church now has a maximum allowable capacity of 73 students. The project approval allows them in essence to transfer 30 of those students to the new facility and leave 43 students at the church.
Commissioners had concerns about the noise level, property values and a nearby creek, so they attached two extra conditions to the project.
In the end, however, they said the project had met all the required guidelines and they didn't have sufficient reason to reject it.
"I have trouble finding something to object to," said Commissioner Will Lovitt. "We are causing no harm and we are doing something positive here."
Opponents of the project have 14 days to appeal the decision to the Lafayette City Council.
During the public hearing, the commission heard from a number of those opponents, mostly Carol Lane residents.
Clay Ramsey said he grew up in a house close to the church and then bought that home from his parents in 2003.
He said traffic on Carol Lane is already “super dangerous” and a preschool could make it worse. He said the preschool would change the character of the neighborhood.
“I appreciate the church as a church,” said Ramsey, “but I think it should be a church.”
Kristin Gutman, who lives down the street, said the preschool will help the church financially, but it will hurt the neighborhood.
"It's our traffic problems. It's our quality of life," said Gutman.
She noted the school will be run by a private company that rents the property from the church.
"It's a commercialization of our neighborhood," she said.
A man whose property backs up to what will be the preschool’s play yard said the school will disrupt the quiet lifestyle he now has.
“They’re imposing on our tranquility,” he said.
A woman who has lived a few doors from the church since 1952 said the preschool is a commercial use in a residential neighborhood.
“Is this what you want in your neighborhood? I don’t,” she said.
Other neighbors said the preschool will decrease their property values.
Two neighbors did speak in favor of the preschool.
They said the schoolchildren will be 2 to 5 years old and the noise they create would be minimal. They also said the preschool will provide a service to the community.
Michelle Self, a member of the church's facilities committee, said the school would have two classes, so there would never be more than 15 children outside at any one time.
She added Carol Lane is a major road in Lafayette that already has considerable traffic on it. She said the preschool will not alter that situation much.
"These people did not buy a parcel on a tranquil cul-de-sac," she said. "This is a thoroughfare."