Crenshaw Academy proposal moves forward with support

The school is requesting an amendment to an existing special exception in the Citrus Rural District to allow two portables to remain on the existing private school campus.

The request pertains to two portables located at The Crenshaw Academy in Gotha.
The request pertains to two portables located at The Crenshaw Academy in Gotha.
Courtesy photo
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Those in attendance at an Orange County Zoning Division community meeting hosted Wednesday, March 6, voiced support for a proposal brought forward by The Crenshaw Academy.

The Crenshaw Academy is requesting an amendment to an existing special exception in the Citrus Rural zoning district to allow two portables to remain on its existing private school campus. The proposal would yield no change in the number of students or school hours. 

The property is located on the west side of Hempel Avenue, southeast of State Road 408 and north of Florida’s Turnpike at 2342 Hempel Ave., Gotha. The Future Land Use of the 7.9 acres is Gotha Rural Settlement. 

Site access would be from Hempel Avenue to the east, and there would be an addition of decking between the portables. 

“Basically, we don’t want any changes; we just want to remain there,” Brenda Crenshaw, founder of the school, said. “We love the area. We think it’s beautiful, and all is good. We haven’t had any complaints, that we know of, and everybody seems to be very happy with us there.”

Ted Kozak, with the zoning division, led the presentation, and Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson was in attendance.

Basil Savoie, pastor of New Life Worship Center with his wife, Kathy, said the church was built and designed to fit in with the historic Gotha community. He said it has been a joy to work together with Crenshaw and to have the school inside the church. 

“Over these years, we’ve actually become family,” he said. “They’ve got great parents and students; just an exemplary school, really. … We have a heart for her to be there as long as she wants to be there.”

Angela Withers, president of Nehrling Gardens in Gotha, said it has been a pleasure to have the pastors, the church and the Crenshaw school across the street from the gardens.

“They’ve always been delightfully supportive of what we do,” she said. “I think we’re all on the same page in this little part of the Gotha community — that it’s this small-scale, close-knit kind of community that we’re all working toward. Anything we can do to make it easier for the school is fantastic. We don’t need to be putting road blocks in front of what’s a very worthwhile enterprise.”

At the meeting, Crenshaw school officials said there is a plan and consideration being given to replacing the portables with a permanent building within a certain time period. 

“These portables are not old, reconditioned portables; they were new when they got put in,” the officials said. “So, they’re still in good shape. … It’s going to take a little while till (the school) can get to the place where they can determine what they can build and how they can build. As you can imagine, it’s difficult for a tenant who’s leasing from the church (New Life Worship Center) to come up with a plan where they need to build a building. So, that is something that has to be worked out between the church and The Crenshaw Academy.”

The proposal will next go to a Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing, scheduled for April 4, before heading to a Orange County Board of County Commissioners hearing, which has a tentative date set for April 23.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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