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St. Helens Planning Commission unanimously approves plans, along with a series of conditions Tuesday

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - St. Helens School District Superintendent Scot Stockwell speaks during a St. Helens Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12.Design plans for a new middle school and alternative high school campus in the St. Helens School District have cleared the first hurdle, after a public hearing and deliberation with the St. Helens Planning commission, Tuesday night, Sept. 12.

The St. Helens Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve an application from the St. Helens School District for two new buildings on district property, during a commission meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The school district submitted an application for a site design review on sensitive lands to the city earlier this month. A portion of the property is designated as a protected wetland. Usually, such applications do no require a public hearing, but given the nature of the project and the scope of work, the commission requested a public hearing, according to City Planner Jacob Graichen.

The St. Helens School District submitted a report documenting construction plans for a new building for the Columbia County Education Campus and the St. Helens Middle School, both of which are scheduled to begin this school year. Construction of a new CCEC building will begin first, followed by the middle school. Seventh- and eighth-graders will still occupy the current middle school building while construction of a brand new facility takes place.

After Tuesday's hearing, the planning commission approved the school district's application for construction, along with a series of conditions that will require the school district and its consultants to revise before any groundbreaking can begin.

Most notably, the district will be required to submit a student access management plan to the city to mitigate risks to students walking to and from campus during construction. Additionally, the crews must construct frontage improvements, like sidewalks, on the site before construction of the middle school can begin.

More details about other conditions of the site approval and what the next steps are will be published in Friday's edition of the Spotlight.

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