BENNINGTON >> The District Environmental Commission #8 has approved a change of use for the building used by the Bennington Early Childhood Center, paving the way for the center to purchase the building from its current owners.
The center has rented part of the building, located at 1506 Harwood Hill Road in Bennington, from the Green Mountain Christian Center since 2009. According to Darlene Bombard, co-director of the Childhood Center, the Land Use Permit, which was approved on Jan. 29, is a step towards a sale, which has not yet been finalized. The change of use allows for the property to be used as a day school for 65 students, 11 staff, and a one-bedroom apartment. Bombard said the Center has no plans currently to expand its offerings.
The building was the home of the Green Mountain Christian Center starting in 1995, but was almost entirely destroyed in a fire caused by a lightning strike in July 2007. The group moved to its current location, on Main Street in Bennington, the following year, and has used the Harwood Hill building as a conference and banquet facility, which has hosted weddings and other social functions. The Christian Center did not immediately return a call regarding whether those activities would continue.
The Bennington Early Childhood Center grew out of the nursery school program started at Bennington College in 1933. In 2009, when the college decided to close down the program, a group of staff and parents founded the Center and began renting the space on Harwood Hill. The program currently has 11 staff members and four classrooms.