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A vacant building on Richmond Road will see new life starting this fall as the newest home of the Williamsburg Montessori School.
The Williamsburg City Council voted to approve a request by the Williamsburg Montessori School to open a satellite campus at 800 Richmond Road at its meeting Thursday.
Four Council members voted to approve the proposal. Councilman Scott Foster abstained, as his law firm, Tarley Robinson, was representing the school.
The location on Richmond Road was formerly the site of Suter’s Handcrafted Furniture. The school plans to consolidate two other school sites in the City of Williamsburg into the Richmond Road building for one school serving fourth- through eighth-graders.
The City Council was generally supportive of the school’s proposal.
“It’s probably one of the highest and best uses for this parcel,” Councilman Doug Pons said.
Despite recent concerns over the finite amount of commercial property — including the Richmond Road site — in the city, Vice Mayor Paul Freiling said the addition of the school could be beneficial to the Richmond Road corridor.
“As we think of [this area] and our desire to have it bring a level of vitality that’s not too intense so that it’s compatible with surrounding residential neighborhoods, it’s hard to think what would be a better fit than a school,” Freiling said. “It’s going to bring in regular traffic in the morning, regular traffic in the afternoon, and possibly, regular traffic in the evening. … That traffic usually involves parents and children who, at the same time, want to spend money.”
While the council approved the request, several council members voiced concerns about the new school’s effect on traffic along Richmond Road. Due to the small size of the property’s parking lot, the school will have to institute staggered start and end times for pick-up and drop-off for the grade 4-6 program and the grade 7-8 program.
Under the council’s resolution, the school will be limited to 60 students for the 2015-16 school year. That number can increase to 70 students for the 2016-17 school year if the school’s presence does not cause any significant traffic issues.
The school will also be required to install a privacy fence inside an existing hedgerow between the Richmond Road parcel and an adjacent property at 106 Brooks St.