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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingResidents in Alpine say they bought homes in the area because the town's master plan protected a rural atmosphere, but now that plan is changing with the proposal of a charter school.
The Mountainville Academy charter school wants to move into the area and start classes this Fall. Neighbors say they should have a say in the matter. About 60 Alpine residents showed up today at a city development meeting to voice their concern over a new charter school's proposed site on Healy Boulevard.
Troy Stout, Alpine Resident: "I don't see any need for an additional school in the town of Alpine."
The residents say a big part of the problem stems from a new law basically allowing any charter school to buy private land without getting permission from the city first.
David Barlow, Alpine Resident: "The way the law has been written, we have no voice and we have no choice in the matter."
Troy Stout: "I'm gonna go through more red tape to get a fence on my existing property than this school will go through to build a 45,000 square foot building."
Rep. James Ferrin sponsored the bill.
Rep. James Ferrin, Sponsored House Bill 172: "What the policy attempted to do is put charter schools, which are part of our public education system, more on an equal footing with district schools."
District schools already can bypass cities to get approval for sites. Representative Ferrin says the legislation was necessary for charters.
Rep Ferrin: "There are people who just don't want a charter school in their neighborhood, and if they are empowered to stop that from happening, then we won't have charter schools."
Residents point out Representative Ferrin has a conflict of interest because his private development company helps build charter schools.
Troy Stout: "How are they benefiting financially from the legislation they authored?"
Ferrin says he disclosed this fact and feels his connection to education can actually be a benefit.
James Ferrin: "When the school teachers of the legislature speak, we don't dismiss them because they're school teachers. We recognize they have personal first-hand experience."
The school is still talking with developers to see what is feasible for the land. They were hoping to make a final decision by today, but it looks like it's going to take a little longer.