Alpine School District can go ahead and put the new north Orem high school out for bid and even start - and finish - building the school, but it won't be able to open the doors until a third access to the property has been added.
Orem's City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow a conditional use permit for the 275,000-square-foot building with the two accesses as drawn on the map onto Main Street and 400 East from a new road (1450 North) that will run along the northern edge of the school.But during the next two years, or before the building opens for classes, the district must provide a third access onto 1600 North - thus spreading the impact and allowing for expansion to 2,500 students, if necessary.
Alpine School District was also advised to look at redesigning the traffic patterns around Windsor Elementary before the high school opens.
The decisions came after another hour of discussion on the issues surrounding the placement of the high school on a 40-acre plot at 1400 North and 200 East. Previously, the Planning Commission listened to almost four hours of debate from residents in the area who primarily opposed the Main Street access.
Residents said children attending Windsor Elementary just two houses south of the proposed Main Street access would be endangered by the increased traffic, particularly by inexperienced high school drivers.
Issues raised, explained Ed Stout, director of developmental services for Orem, included the size of the property, whether the building would be one or two stories, the location of an LDS seminary building, lack of parking, the size of the bus access road, traffic safety, changing neighborhood dynamics and the need for additional access onto 1200 or 1600 North.
Stout said the city could legally address only those issues that dealt specifically with safety and land use.
City Attorney Paul Johnson verified that the city could not dictate construction plans, building use or aesthetics.
Gary Keetch and Jack McKelvy, representing Alpine School District, said the site was selected after years of searching and deliberation.
McKelvy said if the district were forced to find the third access before the conditional use permit was granted, "we'll miss this go-around."
Johnson told the council they could tie the opening of school to having the 1600 North access, because the district could wield its right to eminent domain if it needs to do so to get the land.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the property the district is purchasing for the school site and had indicated the orchards around the school would stay active.
To gain access to 1600 North, the district will need property extending north from the high school site.
"Basically, you're mandating that third access," said Johnson.