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Board approves school expansion

Journey Center plans to open preschool

The city Zoning Hearing Board recently granted a special exception that will allow a school and treatment center for autistic children in Garden Heights establish a second location in Eldorado.

Kimberly and John Bennett’s Journey Center will take over the former Lighthouse Christian School building on the 4200 block of Broad Avenue and use it for the Journey Center’s preschool component, the couple said after the hearing.

Currently, the 6,000-square-foot Journey Center at 120 Byron Ave., has about 30 students, who come and go through the week, and it’s “maxed out” for space — even after the recent addition of some rooms, according to John Bennett.

The couple needed either to find a bigger place for all their students or a second, smaller space for one group of students, and they chose the latter option, according to the couple.

The 4,300-square-foot school building on Broad Avenue will handle 12 preschoolers, they said.

One attraction for the property is a heavy-duty swing set in the yard.

The students love to swing, and there’s nothing at the current location that allows for such convenient outdoor recreation, she told the board.

The couple has an option on the Broad Avenue property.

The school building will require cosmetic work, including carpet replacement, painting and perhaps installation of dividers.

The couple said they will make it “kid-friendly.”

It will also require fencing of the yard, they said.

The couple hope to open the Broad Avenue facility in the spring.

There is a frame church building on the property that is beyond repair and will need to be demolished, according to the couple.

That is unfortunate, because they could have made use of it otherwise — although not as a church, they said.

The building was constructed in 1906, John Bennett said. It was last used as a Mennonite church.

The facility on Broad Avenue won’t generate significant additional traffic, according to the couple.

The 15 parking spaces — more after the church demolition — will be sufficient, as all the students are dropped off by their parents and there will be 10 or fewer staffers, according to the couple.

Hours of operation will be 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, Kimberly Bennett said.

The Broad Avenue property is in a suburban residential zone.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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