The Belden Street Montessori School is planning for a new parking lot that will cut down on congestion near the school.

The Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission recently approved a specific use permit and granted site plan approval for the school to build a new parking lot at 1111 North Ricketts Street, which is adjacent to the school’s property.

“We are asking to build a 10 spot parking lot, for primarily employees only, for Belden Street Montessori School to help with congestion the school might cause on Belden Street and so parents have the option to stop at the school and come in,” Director Allison West said. “Right now, any time during the year, I have between 10 and 15 employees at the school. Two of them walk and live close by. The other employees are stacked in the front parking lot area. Then my part time girls, a lot of them park on the street.”

West explained employees’ use of the parking available in front of the school means sometimes parents have to unload their children in the street.

“We have heard about this before,” commission Chairman Clay Mahone said. “There’s a lot of congestion there. So I certainly think this would be better. Glad you’re working on a solution for that.”

The planned parking lot would be around the corner from the school’s location at 618 W. Belden St. on North Ricketts Street.

“We are wanting to keep as much green area as possible,” West said of the new parking lot. “We don’t want it to look like a big parking lot. We want it to look almost like a nature park area where some of our employees are parking.”

She also told the commission she didn’t expect drivers would be coming in and out of the parking lot often, mainly just at the beginning and end of the day, as well as lunchtime.

During the public hearing on the request, a neighbor with adjacent land on North Lockhart inquired about the proposed location of the parking lot.

“I would like to know where that parking lot is going to go because I’m afraid it might make the drainage worse in that area,” Robbie Pruitt said before addressing the representatives from the Belden Street Montessori School directly about water that has backed up into his backyard. “There’s a little detention pond, whether it be natural or man made I don’t know, but there’s just a low lying area back in there off your property.”

When it was explained to him that the parking lot would be on North Ricketts Street and not behind the school, Pruitt said that was his only concern.

“I agree you all need some parking area over there,” he said.

The school’s representatives said there are no plans to put any sort of concrete in the area behind the school, so it is not expected to change any of the drainage or runoff as they currently exist.

Commission members asked about the city’s requirement the parking lot be fenced in, and West said she’d already gotten a bid on that. She asked about an existing city fence along the property of the proposed parking lot from a city lift station and the commission made the fencing on that portion optional assuming the city’s fence is adequate.

The specific use permit request will next have to go before the Sherman City Council at an upcoming meeting.