LIBERTY Church got OK for school in '77
The school expects to make the move from Kinsman to Liberty in the fall.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- There was no need for Pleasant Valley Evangelical Church to seek township approval to open a Christian school -- because it received permission 24 years ago.
The church had requested that the township's zoning board of appeals grant it a conditional-use permit to operate Victory Christian School in the church wing at 2055 Pleasant Valley Road.
The permit would allow the church to open the school in an area zoned for single-family houses.
The appeals board held a public hearing Monday. James Rodway, township zoning inspector, said a church member indicated that the church had received permission years ago.
Nonetheless, the appeals board voted 2-1 to grant the permit.
Brian Wolf, principal at Poland High School, was the dissenting member.
Cheryl Kelley, church administrator, said that only Larry Prince, superintendent of Liberty schools, spoke against the issue -- saying the Christian school may draw students from Liberty schools.
What records show: Tuesday, Rodway checked township records and indeed found that the church had received a zoning variance to operate the school in 1977, but never opened it in an addition that the church had built.
The addition included 19 classrooms and a gymnasium.
Neither Rodway nor Kelley had known of the 1977 variance because they weren't around at the time.
Rodway said Tuesday that the variance stays with the land, and the church "can just go ahead and proceed" with the school.
Reason for move: Kelley said the school now located on state Route 5 in Kinsman plans to move to Liberty to begin classes this fall. The school has 86 pupils from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The school is moving because it has run out of room, Kelley said.
Principal Jeanne Hanselman said the independent Christian school has been in existence since 1988 and is not affiliated with a specific church.
Church administrator for five years, Kelley said she doesn't know why Pleasant Valley built the classrooms and gym but didn't open a school.
She explained, however, that isn't unusual because different pastors have different visions.