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New School May Move Into Town and Country

Concerns over traffic are voiced as plans for a private school, the Raintree Learning Community, are considered by the City of Town and Country.

Planning and Zoning Commission is reviewing plans for a new school to be built on a now vacant lot in the city, but those plans have some concerned about traffic in the area and a "commercial facility" moving into the community.

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The is a private school currently located at 265 Steamboat Lane in Ballwin. However, after six years at that location, the school's owner Ilya Eydelman tells Patch they've outgrown their current building and want to build in Town and Country.

Eydelman, submitted preliminary site plans to the City of Town and Country for a new 7,310-square-foot building in the 2000 block of Amonte Drive at Mason Road. 

"We're a very different kind of operation. We're a nature school. We're very focused on providing children with nature," owner Ilya Eydelman tells Patch. "We really focus on giving kids a natural place to explore and the 11 acres over on Amonte Drive seemed like the perfect place to do that."

Eydelman, addressed the Planning and Zoning Commission on July 25 during a public hearing on the preliminary site development plan. He tells Patch the goal is to have the new school open for the 2013-2014 school year.

The school would be accessed from Mason Road, but the building itself would sit more than 300 feet back from the road.  

The one-story building on the almost 11-acres could accommodate up to 70 preschool and kindergarten students. The location is on the southern border of Town and Country, near Grand Glaize Creek. There are homes that border some of the proposed site which was initially approved to be Amonte Subdivision, according to the site development proposal. The neighborhood was to include seven residential lots, but those homes were never built and that location remains vacant.

"We're not adding any new pavement. We're actually removing some pavement that's already there and giving it more green space," Eydelman explained. "We're leaving 91 percent of it undisturbed. We're a very green school, it's a green building."

He pointed out that Raintree's current location doesn't even have a playground for children, but is surrounded by landscaping by landscaping and nature for learning and exploring.

In a written statement , Town and Country residents Charlene and William Schawacker voiced concerns over "the intrusion of this commercial facility into a residential neighborhood and the unwanted precedent we fear that might represent."

However, Eydelman tells Patch there is broad support for the project in that neighborhood.

"We've met with all but one of the adjoining property owners," Eydelman explained. "All but that one have already signed a petition supporting the project." 

In fact, the new school would occupy less square footage and be further away from neighboring properties than the previously approved homes would have been, according to the site development plan. 

Eydelman also tells Patch it won't be visible from Mason Road or any of the neighbors.

"Plans show that the school will largely be “invisible”, both to neighbors and from Mason Road. It will be located in the center of the site, away from neighboring properties. The site is shielded from adjoining properties both by extensive vegetation and by the lower grade of the school building and drive," the plan states.

Although a traffic study conducted by a firm for Raintree showed the school should have "little impact" on traffic in the area, the Schawacker's also stated they are concerned about traffic. Town and Country Aldermen Chuck Lenz tells Patch congestion there is also his concern with the project.

"My big concern frankly is the traffic issue. They'll be coming between seven and nine and leaving between five and seven," Lenz explained. "They can say the 'traffic study,' but I go up and down the road about that time and I see cars backed up there."

Eydelman clarified to Patch that the school's pickup hours are 3 p.m. to 6p.m. and the school closes at 6 p.m.

Lenz points out he is not opposed to the school moving in, but just wants to learn more about his concern.

"I want to see what planning and zoning decides. I haven't made a decision," Lenztells Patch.

Eydelman tells Patch the traffic impact study was also reviewed by Town and Country's city traffic engineer.

The school will not likely have evening and weekend activities, according to the site proposal.

It's now up to the Planning & Zoning Commission to make its recommendation on the school to the Town and Country Board of Aldermen, which will ultimately vote on the proposal.

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