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October 25, 2014

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Green Valley Christian School gets OK to expand

Green Valley Christian School

Green Valley Christian School’s request to expand its junior high and high school operations into a vacant office building across the street from its main campus won the approval of the Henderson Planning Commission on Thursday night.

Planning commissioners had delayed the item from last month’s meeting to allow city traffic engineers to study the impact of the expansion on nearby roads and intersections, particularly the intersection of Valle Verde Drive and Sunset Road.

Green Valley Christian has 39 students in junior high and high school, but asked for permission to have up to 360 students at the new location. After hearing presentations about the possible traffic effects of growth, commissioners agreed to the request.

After evaluating the numbers, City Traffic Engineer John Penuelas said the traffic impact of the expansion was difficult to nail down exactly, but that he was confident it would be within acceptable limits.

Penuelas agreed with the argument used by Green Valley Christian’s parents and administrators that many of the parents who would be driving their high school and junior high kids to and from the expanded location are already going to the school anyway for their elementary school children.

“I’m comfortable with 360 students, frankly,” Penuelas said. “The reason is that our study assumes that every one of these car trips is brand new, which we know is not the case.”

Peneulas said the intersection at Valle Verde Drive and Sunset Road is well equipped to handle the extra capacity coming from the school’s location on Valle Verde Court, and pointed out that any traffic the school generates on a given day will be temporary.

“It’s a school -- any congestion we have there is going to be very short lived,” Penuelas said. “You’re talking 15, 20, 30 minutes tops.”

Attorney John Marchiano, representing Green Valley Christian, produced a letter from the Regional Transportation Commission’s Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST), which monitors and controls traffic signals and traffic flow throughout the valley. FAST technicians studied the intersection and signed off on the school’s proposal.

Planning commissioners, who had been leery of granting the request last month, said they were satisfied with the information that they had received, but aware that it would not be the last time they had to worry about the intersection at Sunset Road and Valle Verde Drive.

“I don’t want to preclude this school from providing a quality education to its students,” Commissioner John Marz said. “But we have a lot of vacant land up there, and we’re going to have to deal with that signal sooner than later.”

The Commission’s decision marked the end of months of debate over who would occupy the vacant building. The debate began earlier this year when the Coral Academy of Science, a charter school based in the Silverado Ranch area, targeted the vacant office building to house its upper grades. Green Valley Christian’s parents and administrators vehemently opposed the move, saying the additional traffic that Coral would bring in would create gridlock in the area and pose a safety risk to students.

As the debate dragged on, Coral officials found a temporary site to house their students this year, but vowed to continue fighting for the spot next to Green Valley Christian. A few weeks later, however, Coral dropped its application without any explanation and Green Valley Christian submitted its application to expand into the building.

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