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City approves permit for child care center near downtown

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a special use permit for a new child care center to operate on West Innes Street near downtown.

Lamont Savage, a local real estate agent and CEO/founder of Learning 2 Achieve Success Academy on Willow Road, received a special use permit to operate a 2,400-square-foot child care center at 612 West Innes St., about three blocks from the city’s officially designated downtown. The permit is for a .37-acre parcel in a district zoned “residential mixed use.”

Special uses are generally compatible with the land uses permitted in a zoning district, but also require individual review of their location, design and configuration to evaluate the potential for adverse impacts on adjacent property and uses. Special uses ensure the appropriateness of the use at a particular location within a given zoning district.

Once licensed, the center, to be called Legacy School, will provide before- and after-school child care for children in grades 1-6, with additional programs eventually available for middle and high schoolers. The central room would be used as a primary classroom, with the other rooms accommodating extracurriculars.

Savage’s wife, Engrid, is also leading the project.

Savage is requiring all enrolled children to be current on all childhood vaccinations.

Like its namesake, Savage said the center will take a “more legacy-focused approach” in equipping children with the life skills needed to be a success in the world. The curriculum will touch on healthy habits, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and lifestyle.

“I’m just looking to put some action behind that and bring some new and fun opportunities to the city,” he said.

Council member David Post called the child care center new and exciting, but said he worries about the child safety. Savage is proposing fences be constructed around the building open space in the back. Council members said a chain link fence, particularly around the front of the center, is unattractive. Savage said he’s been looking into building a black aluminum fence around the front to look inviting and that state regulations mandate it be at least 4 feet high.

Development Services Manager Teresa Barringer said the city’s zoning ordinance doesn’t dictate fencing standards unless the property is located within the historic district.

Savage said parking would be located in the back, with the ability to drive along the side of the building. Children would use the front area of open space, but Savage doesn’t anticipate any major play equipment in the front of the building.

Savage said the center would not decrease the value of adjoining property, especially because it’s within a major thoroughfare with similar uses at adjoining properties. The parcel is currently owned by Lloyd and Linda Nickerson of Starburst Properties LLC, and Savage will be leasing the building. The property has a total assessed tax value of $245,781.

Councilman Brian Miller said he’d prefer a child care center to have more open space, and he’s concerned whether the building will comfortably fit 30 children. But he had no particular issues with the permit and joined all others with a vote of support.

Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins said she was happy to hear the center serve a broader age range of children because many centers serve much younger children.

“That is an area that certainly needs to be focused on,” she said.

Heggins also said she’s happy to hear a young person return to their hometown to open a business. She noted the proximity of the center to Bell Tower Green Park.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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