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East Spencer to hold public hearing next month on rezoning for planned charter school

EAST SPENCER — A public hearing scheduled during the March 5 East Spencer town board meeting will include discussion of the planned Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School and a rezoning request at the former Dunbar Center.

The Dunbar Center property is at 820 S. Long St., but the area that is at the center of the request is on Washington and Broad streets, at the back corner of the property where there used to be football and softball fields.

The property is owned by the Paul L. Dunbar Group Inc., which purchased it from Shady Grove Baptist Church in December for $1, according to deed records.

The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 5 at Town Hall, 105 S. Long St.

East Spencer Town Planner Joe Morris said the parcel consists of 6.64 acres and the group is requesting that it be rezoned from Residential 1 (single-family) to office and institutional, which would allow a variety of uses including public and private schools.

Morris said the group did a general presentation at its February meeting that touched on the highlights of the plans for what has been dubbed the Dunbar Village project.

He further explained that the idea is to bring in modular units and open the school Aug. 18. Morris said he understands that since the Dunbar Group has taken ownership of the property, the group will also take care of outstanding debts.

Some back taxes are owed, and liens were filed by the town for mowing.

“I’ve been told those outstanding debts have been managed,” he said.

The East Spencer Planning Board will have a courtesy hearing to make the request to look at zoning viability, Morris said.

“We want to evaluate the proposed rezoning on what future land uses may occur there and what the people have talked about is this will be a location for a public school/private school,” Morris said.

The planning board will make a recommendation and present it to the town board.

The town board will consider whether its Brownfields grant can help toward the removal of underground storage tanks. The town is working with the group as it develops plans and redevelopment strategies, Morris said.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program allows communities to recycle vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive reuses. The investments provide communities with the funding necessary to assess, clean up and redevelop contaminated properties.

Both Kenneth Fox, chairman of the Paul L. Dunbar Group, and Whitney Peckman, who sits on the charter school board, declined to comment until after the public hearing.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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