Neighbors across the street from Cannon Elementary School are objecting to plans for rebuilding the school, saying a two-story wing will loom over their houses.
“It will be like living in an alley,” said Wendell Ponder, who along with his wife Karen have lived on Pebblebrook Drive for 28 years.
The Ponders and several other nearby residents complain that early plans led them to believe the school would be in the middle of the property. When they attended community meetings in late March, they learned the edge of the two-story classroom wing of the building would be about 30 feet from the edge of the property on Pebblebrook to the west and Chelsea to the north.
“It is unfortunate that the new school project is causing concerns with the homeowners and for that we apologize,” said Rick Hadley, director of communications for the Grapevine-Colleyville school district. “District officials continue to be available to visit with our Cannon Elementary neighbors as we work through this project.”
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Karen Ponder said homeowners didn’t have a chance to be involved in the planning process. Now they worry about the impact on their property values.
The Ponders said their three sons attended the school, and the couple enjoys hearing children play on the playground. But they don’t want the new building to block out the morning sun.
Peggy Anderson, another Pebblebrook resident, also objects to the site.
“The highest peak of the complex will be right across from us,” Anderson said.
Her children also attended Cannon, which is “a wonderful school.” But Anderson wants to see the rebuilt school in a “more neighborhood-friendly location.”
Pam and Lee Roy McCain, Anderson’s neighbors, said in an email that it was “inexcusable” that district officials didn’t seek neighborhood input during the planning process.
Hadley said, “It hasn’t been part of our process to seek neighborhood input, but we haven’t had problems with that in the past.”
Officials are considering including neighbors in planning for future projects, he said.
The McCains also say the school’s modern design is not in keeping with the established neighborhood, just west of historic Nash Farm, or the city’s goals for heritage and historic preservation.
Hadley said officials take neighbors’ concerns on the placement and design seriously, but building on a small site with an occupied school is a huge challenge. The site is about 8.6 acres instead of the typical 12 to 15 acres allotted for an elementary campus.
He said school at Cannon must continue during most of the construction process. Other district campuses wouldn’t have room for students to if the district were to demolish the original building and reconstruct the new facility in the same spot.