Education

Discovery Charter gets OK, but fight over Durham County charter school may not be over

This is an artist's rendering of Discovery Charter, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-themed charter middle school proposed for Orange Factory Road.
This is an artist's rendering of Discovery Charter, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-themed charter middle school proposed for Orange Factory Road. Submitted

In a hearing with as many twists and turns as a country road, the Board of Adjustment all but cleared the way Tuesday for construction of the proposed Discovery Charter School in northern Durham.

The BOA was expected to rule on the permit for the 59.8-acre school site located on Orange Factory Road last month but rescheduled the hearing because the required public notice wasn't in compliance.

Steve Hubrich, president of Hubrich Contracting, Inc., said pre construction on the site for Discovery Charter, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-themed charter middle school , will depend on whether neighbors who oppose the school appeal.

The project already has been delayed for months after neighbors sued Durham County over the Board of Adjustment's approval of the school site plan.

"We've got to wait another 30 days until we get the official order," Hubrich said. "And then they [project opponents] get 30 days to decide whether to file an appeal based on today's testimony."

LeAnn Nease Brown, the attorney who represents several nearby landowner, said she and her clients will "discuss our options."

The neighbors represented by Brown and others contend the school will increase traffic on already well-traveled roads that are too narrow to handle additional traffic.

They have also expressed concern about the potential harm to nearby Little River Reservoir from a 3,000 gallon a day septic field that will be installed in the South Reservoir Wildlife Habitat Area and chemical runoff into the reservoir from sports fields and other cleared areas at the proposed school.

On Tuesday, several landowners also said they fear they will no longer be able to hunt on property near the school.

Discovery Charter was supposed to open last August, but the State Board of Education (SBE) let school officials delay its first scheduled opening until the 2018-19 school year due to its legal issues.

Earlier this year, the SBE agreed to allow Discovery Charter to delay its opening until the 2019-20 school year while it works to resolve its legal issues.

Carl Forsyth, the school's founder, said in January that Discovery Charter had filled its sixth-grade enrollment and half of its seventh-grade enrollment.

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645
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