Grace City Church is waiting for approval from the Wenatchee hearing examiner to move forward with its planned Christian school.

Hearing examiner Andrew Kottkamp held a public hearing this week on the conditional use permit application for what would be called Garden City Academy.

The property requires a conditional use permit because it's located within the Residential Moderate (RM) zoning district and schools.

The application calls for a K-12 school to be located at the King's Orchard Church of Christ in Wenatchee, 1610 Orchard Ave. It does not propose to build any other structure on the property.

A city staff report recommends approval of the proposal with certain conditions, mostly having to do with crosswalks and sidewalks.

The city staff report calls for a striped north/south pedestrian crossing with ADA-compliant ramps to be installed at the intersection of Pershing St and Orchard Ave. and a striped north/south pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Elliot St and Orchard Ave.

Garden City Academy will increase the morning vehicle trips on Orchard Avenue from 87 to 283 trips during the peak hour, and add 868 average daily trips.

Orchard Avenue is identified as a “Safe Route to School” for both Washington Elementary School and Orchard Middle School, each located less than half of a mile from the Garden City Academy.

A Traffic Impact Analysis has determined that the property at 1610 Orchard Ave. and adjacent streets can handle the expected traffic volumes.

The analysis showed that with an enrollment of 350 students and associated staff, there will be a change in delays at some intersections. Still, all will remain above the acceptable minimum as identified in the City of Wenatchee Comprehensive Plan.

If total student attendance exceeds 350, an updated Traffic Impact Analysis shall be provided

Garden City Academy does not propose to make use of buses with this application

Among the public concerns raised about the school proposal was opposition to Garden City Academy’s religious ideology.

The staff report noted federal law prohibits discrimination based on religion or religious denomination. It said the review of the application was "based on compliance with city code" and could not be based on their religious ideologies or teachings.

Another public concern mentioned was Grace City Church’s use of another property at 277 Melody Lane. There were complaints the church held events at the location, which was designated as a storage facility.

City staff noted an August 2022 building permit was issued allowing the building to be used for assembly. The report noted the application review does not consider an applicant’s history on property other than the property at 1610 Orchard Ave.

The was also public concern about the possible use of armed guards at the property. City staff noted firearms within schools are not regulated under the Wenatchee city code.

Additional public concerns were raised about noise. City staff said the activities proposed in the application for Garden City Academy do not indicate that the use of the property as described will create public disturbance noises.

There was further concern about parking - pick up and drop off at the school. The staff report noted the Traffic Impact Analysis recommended controlling the two access driveways at the property, with the eastern driveway designated as enter only and the western driveway designated as exit only, during peak drop-off and pick-up times.

Grace City submitted its conditional use permit application for the school on March 19.

After the public hearing, Kottcamps is expected to issue his decision in the next 10 days.

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