A Sherman pre-school is one step closer to getting its permits renewed. The Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved a renewal of a specific use permit for Little Zebras Child Development Center.

This marks the first time that Sherman P&Z have approved permitting requests for the pre-school since it started operations in 2016. In the two previous renewal attempts, it took appeals to the Sherman City Council to get the permits issued, with time limits.

“You’ve been granted this in the past by city council with a time limit, and presented tonight is a request for permit without time limits,” P&Z Chairman Clay Mahone said earlier this month.

With the P&Z’s blessing the request will move on to the Sherman City Council for final approval.

In 2015, Delmar and Chiniqua Hill purchased a property at 1211 Blanton Dr. with plans to open it as a pre-school for students ages zero through five.

However, when the request went before the commission, it was denied due to concerns of locating a business in what is otherwise a residential neighborhood.

““We’ve had similar things like that come through (the commission),” then Chairman Joe Gilbert said in 2016. “And it just seems like it undermines the single-family residential area, because that’s what it is. It’s not open for business.”

The Hills appealed the P&Z decision to the city council the next month. Despite getting overwhelming support, the request did see some opposition from a neighboring property who expressed concern about noise, parking and traffic.

The appeal was ultimately approved by the council with a one-year lifespan that would require the Hills to reapply after 12 months.

The commission once again denied the request in a three-to-two vote when the hill’s came to renew the permit. At the time, Gilbert said that it was the decision of the council to approve the request, and it would be fitting for them to renew it.

“My perspective is the city council saw something that we didn’t so they thought it was acceptable given these conditions and we can pass the torch again,” Gilbert said.

Just as the commission denied the request, the council overruled it for a second time in early 2017 in a unanimous vote. Rather than keeping a one-year permit for the project, the council asked the Hills to come back for approval in three years.

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.