Officials to study effect development will have on local schools

Officials to study effect development will have on local schools

April 19th, 2017 by Tyler Jett in Breaking News

Boynton Elementary School fifth-grade students raise their hands hoping teacher Blake O'Keefe will call on them. O'Keefe said students all want to answer questions so they can use the new Smart Board designed for interactive learning.

Photo by Katie Ward

RINGGOLD, Ga. — A potential new neighborhood is on hold as Catoosa County officials try to figure out how it could impact local classrooms.

The proposal to develop 44 acres on Pine Grove Road, owned by the estate of Margaret Sisson, includes the construction of 105 town homes and individual houses, said developer Todd Queen. On March 28, the planning commission split on the rezoning request, 2-2.

But Tuesday, the Catoosa County commission asked the planning board to consider the proposal again. Chairman Steve Henry wanted the school board to weigh in on whether the extra families in the area could put too many students in a couple of schools. Commissioner Jeff Long, meanwhile, said he wants the road department to determine whether a new neighborhood would create too much congestion.

Fade Crump, a second-grader at Boynton Elem.; Maggie, a 3-year-old greyhound; Ashley Crump, a seventh-grader at Heritage Middle School; Melissa Holcombe, volunteer coordinator for READing Paws; and Jeffery "J.P." Collins, a third-grader at Ringgold Elementary, from left, are some of the faces of the READing Paws program.

Fade Crump, a second-grader at Boynton Elem.; Maggie,...

Photo by Mike O'Neal

"Everything's kind of preliminary at this point," Catoosa County Planning and Zoning Director James Davis said.

Queen said he hopes to start working on the site this summer and finish the first houses midway through 2018. He plans to build town homes for about $200,000, while the standalone houses would sell for $250,000-$375,000. The community would be gated.

"It's going to be a real nice development," he said. "Probably one of the nicest to come to Catoosa in a while."

The homes would be zoned for Boynton Elementary School and Heritage Middle School, which are both already well populated. Over the past 10 years, according to the Georgia Department of Education, Boynton Elementary has averaged 597 students in the spring semesters — accounting for about 15 percent of public elementary school students in the county.

Heritage Middle, meanwhile, has averaged 995 students during that time. That is about 40 percent of all Catoosa County middle school students.

In a statement, Superintendent Denia Reese said Boynton Elementary is at capacity, while Heritage Middle is "very close."

"Since the subdivision is in the early planning stages," she said, "the school system would want to have time to work closely with everyone involved to develop a plan to accommodate potential new students."

The Boynton Ridge division of the county houses about 13,500 people — 20 percent of Catoosa County's total population, according to U.S. Census Data. The area skews slightly wealthier than other parts, with a median household income of $58,000, which is 16 percent higher than the average across the county.

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfree Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.