Planners OK permits for 2 public projects

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Planning Commission approved conditional use permits for the School District’s construction project at Sweet Home Junior High School and the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District’s plans to expand Foster Station.

The School District’s project also included a variance from parking requirements, allowing 62 in stead of more than 200 required based on the building’s gym space. That’s an increase of 16 spaces, while the district anticipates that enrollment will continue about where it is now, according to Supt. Tom Yahraes.

Commissioner Greg Stephens said the projects were well-planned, and the commission quickly voted 4-0 to approve the applications following brief public hearings. Neither project received public comments.

The junior high, 880 22nd Ave., request includes a neighboring property, 706 Mountain View Road, that will be used to create a new bus driveway to separate bus traffic from public and parent traffic, which will enter and exit from 22nd Avenue.

A letter from Donna Short a member of the Safe Routes to Schools Committee told commissioners that her committee’s action plans include a roundabout at the intersection of 22nd and Mountain View, “which fits in well with the changes to the parking lot that the School District is proposing.”

Joe Graybill, the city’s staff engineer, said he has been working with the committee, which is pursuing a grant to build a sidewalk along Mountain View Drive.

“Joe and I reviewed this, and we felt overall, traffic in the area would be improved,” said Community and Economic Development Director Jerry Sorte.

“This whole area is crowded and congested at times,” Graybill said. “This is a pretty effective solution.”

A roundabout may further help, Graybill said, as drivers enter the roundabout to the right and exit when they need to.

“Things just keep moving,” Graybill said.

Among improvements are a new gymnasium, office space and a cafeteria. The public will enter the building through a single secure entrance controlled by office staff, and the art and Basic Life Skills classes will move into the main building. Modular buildings housing those classes and the cafeteria will be demolished.

The project includes improvements to the building’s electrical, HVAC, mechanical and fire suppression systems, and the district will install a slope on the building’s roof to resolve issues with water puddling and leaking through the roof.

The junior high will increase from 53,000 square feet to more than 64,000 square feet on 28.5 acres in the proposed remodel.

The project is funded by a $4 million bond approved by district voters last year. The state matched the bond measure with a $4 million grant. The majority of the $8 million is slated for use in the junior high project. The district also will install secure entrances as well as building infrastructure improvements, such as hot water, at elementary schools.

“We’re really excited about this project,” Yahraes said. “We’re excited about the new spaces.”

And district officials are excited about the traffic safety improvements, he said.

The Fire and Ambulance District request is to remodel the Foster Fire Station, 1390 47th Ave., adding a new vehicle bay door to the structure and constructing second-floor living quarters. The remodel would increase the space available for the storage of apparatus that are already housed at the station and overall storage.

It also will provide a storage area for turnouts seprate from vehicles, said Fire Chief Dave Barringer. Turnouts should be separate from diesel vehicles to meet National Fire Protection Association standards. Ventilation, which is in use at the Fire Hall, also meets those standards.

The new living quarters would be built to house up to three people, with a small kitchen, living area, full bathroom and two bedrooms.

“It’s really planning for the future,” Barringer said. Initially, the district will use the living quarters for storage.

“I think it’s a good idea especially to have living quarters in the future when you need them,” Stephens said.

When necessary, they’ll already be in place, said Commissioner Eva Jurney.

The new bay would allow the district to more easily store up to three vehicles. At this time, a third vehicle must taken through one of the existing doors into an empty bay while one of the other vehicles waits outside the station.

The project is among several projects and equipment purchases requested in a 6-year $1.575 million bond levy approved by voters in May 2016.

Present at the meeting were Thomas Herb, Henry Wolthuis, Stephens and Eva Jurney. Lance Gatchell and Edie Wilcox were absent.