Planning Board Approves Cape Tech's Special Permits

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Cape Cod Tech

An architect's rendition of the new Cape Tech building.

HARWICH — The planning board last week unanimously approved the site plan review and use special permits for the new Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. The project is scheduled to get underway in December and is estimated to cost $128 million.

The new school will be located on the east side of the 69.46 acre lot that presently holds the existing Cape Tech school in the Pleasant Lake section of town. The building will contain 221,880, square-feet, less than 8,000 square feet larger than the existing school built in the early 1970s, which will be demolished when the new school is completed.

The new structure will be two stories and organized in four clusters making up the classrooms and shops. The design is primarily a flat roof with low slopes raised in areas to let light into the building. There is a core facility down the center that accommodates access to the gym, restaurant and other services serving the public, such as shops where hairstyling is offered. The design encourages use of the main entrance to the school for security purposes.

Engineer David Michniewicz of Coastal Engineering, Inc. of Orleans said the conservation commission has issued approvals for reconfiguration of the parking lot entrance, which is across Route 124 from cranberry bogs, and they approved some work to the buffer zone of the irrigation pond by the ball field. The board of health has approved a new septic system to handle more than 2,000 gallons of septage per day, he said.

The landscape design, which was done in conjunction with the roadways and parking lot for the new school, has been designed to try to hide the parking lots. The design emphasizes stormwater management, including bio-retention, rain gardens and swales that will allow water to dissipate rapidly through sand. The plant designs work in conjunction with the school's horticultural classes as a teaching tool.

“The plantings are amazing, that's commendable,” Planning Board member Joseph McParland said.

Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh told education construction is exempt from most zoning requirements under Massachusetts law. But Michniewicz said the school is looking for one waiver from the regulations related to the number of parking spaces required. He pointed out 409 are required under zoning and 392 are provided. The present school has 377 spaces.

The engineer said the vast majority of the spaces are driven by the gymnasium capacity of 850 people, but it is not likely gym activities will take place at the same time as full staffing is on hand, thus the waiver request. There is the potential for additional parallel parking along the driveways should it be needed. The board had no problem with the request, approving the waiver unanimously.

McParland wanted to know if the new school would alter the number of students who traditionally attend. Michniewicz said a similar student population is anticipated.

A question was raised about the use of solar panels given the plan to remove an existing wind turbine. Town Administrator Christopher Clark, who serves on the building committee, said Massachusetts School Building Authority guidelines and the funding from the commonwealth did not cover solar panels.

“It's something we'd have to do later,” Clark said.