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School facility gets OK

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Planning Commission approved Thursday a site plan for construction of a new middle school facility at Cathedral School.

The commission discussed fire access to the new middle school after City Planner Frankie Legaux said the fire department had concerns of trucks accessing the school.

City code requires that there be fire hydrant access within 500 feet of the building.

The project’s architect, Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates, said the site plan is designed by code with three access points to two fire hydrants, all within 500 feet.

Legaux said Fire Marshal Aaron Wesley was concerned that one of the access ways would be tough to negotiate.

Commissioner Karen Stubbs, who visited the site and talked to Wesley Thursday, said she did not see the problems with access when she was on the site.

Commissioner Deborah Martin said fire access was a moot point because the planning commission could not direct developers to go against the determination of the fire department.

Waycaster said the school would construct fire access however the fire department deemed necessary, and the commission granted site plan approval contingent upon fire access approval from the fire department.

The middle school facility is part of an approximately $5 million update for the Cathedral campus.

The facility is among the most urgent improvements that also include:

  • Renovating and expanding existing science classrooms and labs.
  • Repurposing junior high classrooms and bathrooms for high school use.
  • Renovating the cafeteria and expanding the kitchen.
  • Constructing a new field house with concessions and bathrooms that will serve the physical education, football, softball and soccer programs.

In other news from the meeting:

  • The commission approved landscaping plans for the Holiday Inn Express that is being built on South Canal Street.
  • The commission welcomed Legaux as the new city planner. Legaux relocated from Rockingham County where she served as the planning director.