FSHA Modernization Plans Pass Muster

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Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy President Sister Carolyn McCormack shakes hands with Susan Koleda, the city’s deputy director of community development, after the Planning Commission approved recommending the school’s modernization plans Tuesday.

After five years of discussion, revision and preparation, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s campus improvement plans appear primed to move forward following unanimous approval from the La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission on Tuesday.
All that remains is for the City Council to give the go-ahead for the 86-year-old all-girls Catholic school to begin enacting its modernization plans.
“We started on this journey in 2012,” said Sister Carolyn McCormack, president of FSHA, after commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the plans. “Like all good journeys, there have been many challenges, many moments of concern, but through it all, it’s been an amazing team effort. This will really secure an even better education for our young women as we move beyond the 21st century.”
Despite some questions about the long-term prospects of the 425-student enrollment cap and whether the plan’s goals and objectives were too specific, commissioners agreed to recommend that the City Council approve the Environmental Impact Report and adopt a pair of resolutions allowing for a General Plan amendment and a zone change. That includes the annexation of 24.66 acres by LCF of the campus area located within Pasadena. (Commissioner Arun Jain was not in attendance.)
FSHA’s Specific Plan outlines a 15- to 20-year, multi-phased project. It includes an increase of the campus’s total building square footage by about 116,000 square feet to about 333,502 square feet — 99,000 square feet of which will be included in a new parking structure.
While FSHA was developing its plans, a group of residents protested, expressing concerns about traffic on the windy, small streets leading up to the hillside campus. With that in mind, the school instituted a traffic management plan that’s succeeded by requiring students to either carpool or shuttle to school.
The renovation plans will retain those traffic management techniques as the school expands its arts center and high school building, develops a campus plaza and enhances internal open space areas.
On Tuesday, FSHA presented its final revisions, some of which were in response to requests by commissioners who considered the plan last month. Among those alterations:
• Minor modifications to the goals and objectives will allow for use of the proposed plan by any educational institution. Commissioners on Tuesday also asked for a footnote to be added to the beginning of the 200-plus page document, indicating that the plan refers to the current operator but would be applicable to future operators as well.
• An alternate design will include an expansion of the existing high school building and a new two-story building near the existing west wing without changing the square footage or total number of new classrooms.
• There will be no concurrent construction, and there will be a seven-day period between the completion of one project and the start of the next.
• The maximum height of the parking area lighting was reduced to 24 feet from 32 feet.
“I’m really pleased that the administration of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy took this process seriously and was very detailed in their response to the Planning Commission’s concerns so [there can be] a durable document that accurately describes the needs of the school,” Chairman Rick Gunter said.
The City Council will consider the Commission’s recommendation at a date to be determined.

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