TWIN FALLS — A homeowners association is upset about noise coming from a Twin Falls private school and wants to see its special use permit revoked.
The Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission is slated to make a decision 6 p.m. Tuesday at the city council chambers, 305 Third Ave. E.
The Russell Square Homeowners Association is worried about the noise at Acorn Learning Center on Eastland Drive, a potential loss of property value and tenants in the nearby Russell Square Apartments. But school leaders say it’s a small campus, students don’t spend much time outside and Vera C. O’Leary Middle School across the street — with more than 800 students — generates much more traffic and noise.
Acorn Learning Center board president Tiffany Mayes said school leaders were surprised by the complaint. “We were shocked because we’re small and O’Leary is right next to us. We only have at most 20 children outside at any time.”
The Twin Falls private school serves preschool through fifth-graders. It received a special use permit May 23 to operate in part of an already existing professional office building.
Under the permit, its enrollment is limited to 50 students. “We’re really small,” Mayes said.
Wali Fedaie with the Russell Square Homeowners Association filed the complaint. He didn’t respond to Times-News inquiries Monday.
He began having phone conversations with city staff in early September about the school’s noise becoming a nuisance and the city’s process of approving a special use permit, according to a P&Z meeting packet.
In a letter to the city Sept. 6 — Acorn Learning Center’s first week of school — Fedaie wrote he wasn’t informed of Acorn’s plans to seek a special use permit.
The school is 0.2 miles away from the Russell Square Apartments. That means the apartment complex likely didn’t receive a notice because letters were only required to be sent to neighboring property owners within 750 feet.
If the city doesn’t respond favorably to the homeowners association’s proposal to revoke the special use permit, “we will be forced to use any and all legal means at our disposal in order to resolve this manner,” Fedaie wrote in a letter to the city.
City staff offered to hold a mediation meeting between Fedaie and the school, but he declined, according to the meeting packet.
The city received an application for a hearing Nov. 8 from Fedaie, “citing noise levels from the operation of the school were unbearable to the Home Owners Association,” according to the packet. “Mr. Fedaie states that if the use is allowed to continue there will be irreparable losses in the form of loss of property value and tenants for the multiple owned units within Russel Square Apartments.”
Acorn Learning Center, which was established in 1982, moved into its new building over the summer.
Previously, the school leased a building for 30 years on Filer Avenue East from a Washington-based church, which decided to put the property on the market.
The building sold in summer 2015. One contingency with the sale: The new owner, a different church, was required to honor the lease with the school, which ended this summer.
Mayes, who has two children enrolled at Acorn Learning Center, said the school sent out multiple letters this spring to property owners within 750 feet of its proposed new campus.
“We did everything we were supposed to do to get our permit,” she said.
Mayes said she’s not aware of the homeowners association contacting the school directly with concerns.
At Acorn Learning Center, students are only outside for 15-minute increments, Mayes said. The noise generated is of children playing, “which we think is a good sound.”
“We want to be good neighbors,” she said. “We don’t want to bother anybody.”
At its previous building, the school never received a complaint from a nearby business or resident, Mayes said.
Acorn Learning Center raised money and put a lot of effort into renovating its Eastland Drive building into a school, she said. Now, she’s not sure what will come next.