The Special Use request to allow a Montessori School at 800 North Center Street in Plymouth was denied by the Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday evening.

Marcy Prochaska who has been operating the Montessori School at 707 Lake Avenue in Plymouth since August appeared before the Plymouth BZA this week to request a Special Use to allow the early learning childhood education center in a Traditional Residential Zoning District. 

Prochaska told the board she planned to have up to 20 students ages 2½ to 6 years of age attend class from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. Drop-off and pick-up would be 15 minutes before and after school.  She said the current location is too small and on a busy road.  She also said she is living in an apartment since the home is currently being used for the school and she can’t afford the rent. 

Speaking of the new location, Prochaska commented that it’s a quieter neighborhood, with less traffic and the family will be able to live upstairs and the school will be on the first floor. 

During the public hearing a couple of neighbors spoke against the Special Use including Andrew Orr who lives immediately to the east, across the alley from the site.  His concerns include parking, the additional traffic and losing the quiet neighborhood he’s lived in for 3-years. 

Greg Compton who lives at 713 North Michigan Street wanted to keep the integrity of the residential neighborhood and said the drop-off and pick-up traffic will create traffic congestion on Jackson Street which could flow onto Michigan Street. 

Prochaska said she was willing to stagger drop-off and pick-up and create a traffic plan for parents to follow to assist with the traffic congestion. 

There was a question about fencing in the play area and board member Paul Wendel said the current fencing at the Lake Avenue location wasn’t appropriate and a much taller and sturdier fence would be required if approved. 

During the discussion it became clear that the Board of Zoning Appeals wasn’t leaving toward a favorable recommendation.  It was noted that if the Special Use was denied the petitioner would have to wait a year to apply again.  There was discussion about tabling the request for additional information but in the end the Plymouth BZA voted 4-0 to deny the request noting the requirement for off street parking for the homeowner and employee, additional parking concerns for parents during pick-up and drop-off times, the additional traffic congestion and losing the tranquility of the neighborhood.