Sykesville — The Sykesville Planning Commission approved a preliminary site plan for an addition at the Ava Wanas Montessori School on College Avenue.
Adding to the school will accommodate increased enrollment of children — from the age of 2 through kindergarten — and create an office for Ava Wanas founder Marie Atalla, architect Henry “Hank” Maeser IV said Monday evening.
Atalla “currently has two large classrooms that accommodate 40 children,” he said. “She is requesting to add another classroom which will add another 20 children to the total, for a total of 60 children all together.”
Maeser said the additional classroom on the first floor will be 700 square feet and the office addition on the second floor above it will be about 400 square feet.
The building has a butler stone facade and the gables have vinyl siding; the new addition will be built to match, he said.
“Marie bought the property about 10 years ago,” Maeser said, “and she loves the community. I know she has another school in Taylorsville as well.
“Because of needs for day care — and that seems to be an issue and a problem for just about everybody nowadays if you have young kids,” he said, “she’s swamped with people requesting to get in.”
The town and the engineer hired to assess the preliminary plan have recommended its approval.
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Planning Commission chairman Steve Enslow was concerned about parking and how pick-up and drop-off would be affected by increasing the student body by a third.
Maeser said there would be a total of 16 parking spaces at the school, and that the pick-up and drop-off wouldn’t be a problem.
Atalla has “found that 25 [percent] to 30 percent of the students she has also have a sibling [at Ava Wanas], so you have two students with one parent dropping off,” Maeser said.
“And Marie has people coming from 7:30 a.m. dropping off anywhere from then to noon,” he said, “so it’s not like everybody comes in like a public school, where you have to be there right at 8 o’clock. That's never been a problem for her.”
Maeser also said the addition will have access to the existing walkways, and public water, public sewer and utilities which are underground. The only added impervious surface will be the footprint of the newly constructed space.
The preliminary site plan was approved 6-0, with Enslow abstaining from the vote because he didn’t have enough time to review it.
The next step in the process for Ava Wanas is a final site plan and construction drawings that satisfy all the conditions of the town’s approval as well as the county’s final plan requirements.