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Sylvania’s Planning Commission endorsed a rezoning request from the Sisters of St. Francis and Lourdes University to use the former Franciscan Academy site for higher education.
The planning commission unanimously recommended the rezoning request to city council Wednesday night. The Sisters of St. Francis asked to rezone the 10 acre from a R-2 residential small lot, to R-1 residential large lot, which would allow the existing building to be used for secondary education.
Before the rezoning request is placed on the city council’s agenda for final approval, the issue will be discussed at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 2.
Consultant and retired Lourdes Vice President Michael Killian told planning commission members that the current 36,600-square-foot building at 5335 Silica Dr. will be used for Lourdes University’s fine arts program, the graduate admissions office, and some graduate classes. The Sophia Center, also located on the Sisters’ Motherhouse Grounds, will be home to an extension office. The counseling center is a part of Sylvania Franciscan Health, sponsored by the sisters.
The building was the home of the Catholic Franciscan Academy, a K-8 school operated by Lourdes University on property owned by the Sisters of St. Francis. Franciscan sisters founded the school in 1973, and the university took over operations in 2009. It closed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year because officials said it was not economically viable. The closing angered many school parents.
Apart from maintenance projects, such as repairing the roof, Mr. Killian said that any changes to the building would be done to the interior to accommodate uses by various departments.
Planning commission member Mayor Craig Stough said it was unusual to entertain a request that would change a code from a broader use to a more restrictive one.
“But we appreciate you going through the process to conform to our code and reuse this wonderful facility,” he said.
Mr. Killian said it plans to double parking from 70 spaces to about 180, moving the north parking lot to the south side of the building. The property neighbors Northview High School.
“Northview has had parking challenges for its games and has been using the lot for its needs, so this will help them as well as help us,” he said.
The parking lot relocation will also benefit Northview’s athletic program. The university plans to transform the former parking area to a grassy practice field. Mr. Killian said Lourdes is in negotiations with the school district to provide joint use of the athletic green.
Officials have not determined a price tag for the building renovations and parking lot construction. Mr. Killian said it plans to have the parking lot completed by the winter. Officials aim to have it operational by early 2015.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or email@example.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.