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Questionable lease led to Rocklin charter school shutdown

9:00 PM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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ROCKLIN, CA - A regional charter school operator signed a 10-year lease for classroom space in a Rocklin industrial center, apparently unaware its new school was prohibited by the local zoning code.

News10 obtained a copy of the lease between Horizon Charter Schools and GroupAccess, which is the master tenant in the Placer Corporate Center at 290 Technology Way.

The July 2011 lease calls for rent payments from Horizon topping out at $25,000 per month for 20,000 square feet of classroom space and related services.

A Placer County business license application filed by GroupAccess president William Brockmeyer in May 2011 claimed the space would be used as a "resource center" with no more than one employee and an average of five clients.

According to the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency (CDRA), the current zoning allows the resource center to legally accomodate 75 students at any one time, but not in a traditional classroom setting.

The Rocklin campus was home to 391 students from grades three through 12 when Horizon Charter Schools CEO Craig Heimbichner shut the doors on Tuesday.

Heimbichner took the leadership position at Horizon several months after the Rocklin lease was signed by another company representative.

Horizon Charter Schools attorney Glenn Peterson said the charter school operator spent $600,000 on tenant improvements and would have never signed the lease knowing the restrictions.

"GroupAccess knew full well what the limitations were for the use of that facility," Peterson said.  "What I don't find any indication of is that GroupAccess shared those limitations with Horizon."

Following complaints about traffic congestion from neighboring businesses, a Sept. 2011 letter from Placer County CDRA reminded Brockmeyer "the facility is not authorized to operate as an elementary or high school... which is prohibited in the Industrial Park zone district."

Brockmeyer, who lives in San Jose, said he could not comment on the lease dispute.

Although Placer County did not put a time limit for Horizon to come into compliance, the property management company representing the building's owner gave Horizon until Nov. 5 to reduce its enrollment to a legal level.

Heimbichner said several recent parking lot incidents involving parents dropping off or picking up their children led to his decision to close the doors immediately.

GroupAccess holds the master lease on two other Horizon Charter Schools; 3161 Dwight Road in Elk Grove and 11641 Blocker Drive in Auburn.

Peterson, Horizon's attorney, said he was researching zoning restrictions on those two properties to make sure the charter schools were operating within the law.

by George Warren, 


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