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Watch now: Mattoon Planning Commission to consider proposal for Christian school in former nursing home

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Maranatha Christian Academy Administrator Ryan Haifley, is shown on Monday, Oct. 18, discussing plans for the school to more next fall into the former Douglas Nursing & Rehabilitation Center building at 3516 W. Powell Lane, along west DeWitt Avenue/Illinois Route 121. READ MORE HERE.

MATTOON — The city Planning Commission is scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 23, to consider a proposal for a Christian school to operate out of a former nursing home.

Maranatha Baptist Church, 3400 DeWitt Ave., has petitioned for a special use permit for its Maranatha Christian Academy to move into the shuttered Douglas Nursing & Rehabilitation Center site at 3516 W. Powell Lane, along west DeWitt Avenue/Illinois Route 121. The nursing home, built in 1964, was closed in summer 2018, as part of a business decision made by its ownership.

The academy's leadership provided a tentative sketch with its petition that shows the retrofitted building having wings for grades kindergarten-fourth, fifth-eighth and high school, plus homeschool support and shop/vocational classes. The accompanying report states that their goals include completing this $500,000 retrofit project and and opening there in fall 2022.

"(Maranatha Christian Academy) gives the community of Mattoon and surrounding areas an alternative option for education of students. This option holds high academic standards and already possesses a strong foundation and solid reputation in Mattoon," the report stated.

The city staff wrote in a report to the planning commission that 3516 W. Powell Lane has R3 multiple family residence district zoning, where schools are allowed with a special use permit. The adjacent properties are R1 single family residential and RS agriculture.

In this report, the city staff wrote that it has requested to see more information from the petitioners on student attendance level, parking and retrofit plans for the property before it makes a recommendation on whether a special use permit should be granted. 

"For example, restroom facilities do not meet minimum state requirements for the proposed occupancy and use, and the petitioner has not presented a plan for meeting such requirements," the staff wrote of this approximately 37,000-foot building.

The commission's meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Mattoon City Council chambers at City Hall, 208 N. 19th St. The commission's recommendations are forwarded to the council for final consideration.

Contact Rob Stroud at 217-238-6861.


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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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