Isn’t an educational use (e.g., a seminary) an educational use (e.g., a high school)?

A:

No, because they have very different impacts.

When the Seminary was originally approved they promised that 100% of their students would be living on campus (hence the 300 units of student housing). The seminarians could walk and bike to class. Also, the Seminary, like most colleges, didn’t have a morning bell and fixed class schedules. Instead, students went to a few classes a week at various times of day. Finally, the Seminary had no theater or sports programs.

By contrast, the Branson students arrive and depart at mostly the same time five days a week. The students will come from all over the Bay Area and by necessity will depend mostly on cars. Many don’t yet have their driving licenses so a parent will have to drop them off and pick them up (thus doubling the trips) and those that do drive are young inexperienced drivers. Finally, the plan includes football and baseball stadiums as well a theater, all of which are expected to be offered for wider general use, not just Branson events. Branson intends to host regional and statewide athletic events. The campus will be used day and night year round.

Hopefully, these simple contrasts make it clear why not all educational institutions are equal. It certainly must have been on the minds of the community leaders and County officials in 1982 when they specially granted a use of a graduate level seminary and not just any educational institution. To be clear, our opposition is not about Branson as a school, it’s that a massive commuter school just doesn’t fit here.


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