The Ramsey City Council approved a rezoning request to allow PACT Charter School to add a second Ramsey location on 161st Avenue — a residential area.
The council voted 6-1 to rezone the property from residential to public/quasi-public, which allows schools. Residential zoning does not allow schools.
The approval is contingent on a preliminary plat successfully passing. If the preliminary plat fails, the area remains zoned as residential.
The council previously approved a sketch plan and comprehensive plan for the school’s second location, despite a crowd of neighbors speaking against the measure at a public hearing March 8. Those who were in favor were largely parents of children in the schools or associated with St. Katharine Drexel’s.
PACT is an open enrollment, public charter school that has been in Ramsey for 18 years. The proposed new location is at 7633 161st Ave. NW, which is currently owned by the Church of St. Katharine Drexel. The proposed new location is 2.8 miles from the existing school.
PACT is planning a new, 115,000-square-foot, two-story school for grades six through 12 with potential for future expansion. The school plans to split the 33-acre property currently owned by the church so that the school has 18 acres of the lot.
PACT wants to put an athletic field with stadium-style seating on the site, near Central Park, which already hosts sporting events. Future plans need to include information regarding the complex’s lighting and public address systems.
The sketch plan includes access points from Variolite Street and 161st Avenue. Buses would drop students off by accessing the school from 161st Avenue, according to the project concept plan.
Area residents have expressed concern about traffic, turn lanes, noise, lot size, drainage and other potential problems.
Council Member Matt Woestehoff, who voted against rezoning and represents the ward where the school is planned, said he worries about a school being built in this location.
“I just have some real concerns about the impact,” Woestehoff said.
There are no areas in Ramsey that are currently available and already zoned for schools, Deputy City Administrator Brian Hagen said.
“Cities don’t proactively zone for schools,” Hagen said. “Generally speaking, that’s because that type of project doesn’t occur often.”