Orem planning commissioners recommended approval of the conditional-use permit for the new high school in north Orem Wednesday despite renewed pleas from area residents who fear traffic will access Main Street and threaten children attending Windsor Elementary.
Commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of the plan although Chairman Berdean Jarman and at least two others voiced serious concerns about the site plan."I'll be point blank," Jarman told the Alpine School District representatives attending the hearing. "The site's just not large enough."
Jarman chastised the district for not looking far enough ahead to predict the need for the school before land options became so restricted and for trying to squeeze the school onto 38 acres. He said the property does not allow for enough expansion, and the district is short-sighted to build so small a school.
Alpine planning representative Jack McKelvy said the site is actually 40 acres including roads and access. His associate, Dennis Cicinni, of MHTN architects, said the acreage is less than the district would like but is workable.
The school will provide 667 parking stalls, he said, more than any other high school in the area. It will also bring recreational opportunities to the area for residents and their families.
He said the plan saves $1.5 million by keeping the school to one story, and McKelvy said the educational experience is better if the population is held to 2,500 or less.
He said the district hopes to put the building out to bid by Sept. 15 in order to take advantage of the prime building season and get the school up and running as soon as possible.
Neighbors to the high school were adamant about preventing the access onto Main Street, asking it be moved to 1600 North or 1200 North or both.
Richard Shipp, representing the Windsor Elementary Safety Committee, said the increased traffic will endanger children going to and from school.
Shipp called into question the traffic study conducted earlier by Orem city staff members and the subsequent study done by Centennial Engineering for the district.
Shipp and Perry Hardin, an associate trained in traffic engineering, said the numbers used in the studies were 20 years old and did not account for the small number of students who will be bused.
Shipp added that the counter used in the study was placed too far north on Main Street so that it missed cars coming into Windsor and turning back south after dropping off children.
Orem city engineer Ed Gifford asked for Shipp's verification on several points, and Centennial defended its study. "We stand by our figures," said Steve Meyer.
Both counts put 1600 North "far and above the highest" in terms of daily vehicle trips, said Commissioner Lisa Deason.
Main Street drew the smallest number with 3,100 vehicle trips per day as opposed to 10,000 vehicle trips per day on 1600 North.
Shipp said access is possible onto 1200 North even though the stubbed road at 300 East is reportedly too narrow to support bus traffic. He submitted a written response to the traffic report implying that because Alpine Super-in-ten-dent Steven Baugh lives near 300 East he has a vested interest in keeping the road from further development.
Gifford said 300 East doesn't have enough available right of way for a city street.
Commissioners said they aren't comfortable forcing the school district to put in access on property they do not own.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the 80-acre parcel where the school is being built and intends to maintain orchards surrounding the 40-acre plot sold to the district.
"We do need as many accesses as possible," said Commissioner Ray Nelson. Commissioner Stan Adams added to his motion for approval language asking the district to continue to explore options for additional access.