CLEARWATER — After months of suspense, Countryside Christian Academy will be able to keep its basketball court after all.
The legality of the hoops court behind the private school had been in question, especially after a few neighbors complained about noise and bright lights there. But the city's Community Development Board decided Tuesday to allow the outdoor basketball court to stay.
"We are pleased. They made a fair decision. It's in the best interests of our children and the neighborhood," said Glen Gammon, pastor of Countryside Christian Center, which operates the 155-student school at 1850 McMullen-Booth Road.
The basketball court had been in legal limbo for months. Parents of Countryside Christian students donated most of the $27,000 cost of building it, and they feared the school would be ordered to tear it out. Parents said their children needed the court for daily exercise.
The problem was that the court was built a few years ago without a permit. After some neighbors complained, Clearwater planning officials concluded this year that the court violated the city's rules.
The court is a paved surface in the middle of a large grassy parking lot behind the church and school. Clearwater planning director Michael Delk said the court's location didn't comply with the original site plan that the church submitted and that was okayed by local officials.
According to that site plan, the spot where the court is located is only supposed to be used for parking. But cars sometimes parked on the basketball court.
When the Community Development Board reviewed this issue in May, most board members supported keeping the basketball court where it is, but they couldn't legally overrule Delk's objections.
On Tuesday, the church submitted a revised site plan. It counted 860 parking spaces on Countryside Christian's campus, more than the 833 spaces that were specified in the original plan. Church officials reached that total without counting the 33 spaces that are also occupied by the basketball court, said their attorney, Katie Cole.
The board voted unanimously: The court can stay.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.