MANATEE — Permitting issues are threatening to delay Bradenton Preparatory Academy’s plans to reopen for classes next week.
The private school does not yet have the necessary approvals to hold classes in its new location, Manatee County officials said Tuesday. They said it could take a few weeks to a few months for those approvals to be issued, casting doubt on whether the school will open Monday as planned.
“I don’t see how, but then again I don’t know what exactly they’re proposing to do,” said Doug Means, a county planning division manager.
School officials and one of the school’s attorneys, Ed Vogler II, did not return telephone messages Tuesday. Eddie Mulock, an attorney who also represents the school, declined to comment.
The school lost its west Bradenton campus to foreclosure in July and has since relocated to a leased storefront at 7700 Cortez Road. The site is zoned for general commercial use.
Schools are allowed under that zoning, but must be reviewed and permitted by the county before they can operate. Means said that process is expected to begin Friday, when an initial meeting between school and county officials is scheduled.
From that meeting, the county will determine whether Bradenton Prep needs an administrative or special permit.
“An administrative permit takes two to three weeks typically,” Means said. “A special permit takes longer because of the extra review, and it requires a public hearing.”
It’s just the latest delay caused by permit problems at the school’s new home.
Earlier this month, a county building inspector discovered two interior walls and doorways were constructed without permits. A stop-work order was issued to the building’s owner, said John Barnott, the county’s building director.
The contractor applied for the permit Monday, but it had not been issued as of Tuesday.
Once a permit is issued, the walls will be inspected to make sure they comply with building codes. If they don’t, the contractor could be required to remove them, Barnott said.
“Our concern is the life, safety and welfare of those students,” he said.
Meanwhile, the school’s legal and financial troubles — which include IRS tax liens, lawsuits by creditors and ex-teachers threatening to sue over unpaid wages — continue to grow.
Earlier this month, a Tampa attorney became the latest creditor to sue the school. Mark Aubin’s lawsuit contends he is owed more than $5,700 for defending Bradenton Prep against charges of athletic recruiting violations in 2008. The Florida High School Athletic Association assessed a then-record $34,650 fine against the school, which subsequently resigned from the association and joined an independent league.
Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.