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Officials plan for growth as more than 200 new dwellings petitioned to be built in Castle Rock

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West Place homes

Developer Matt Morris talks with framer Jose Lopez Sept. 2 about building his 44-home subdivision off Gassman Road, just outside Castle Rock.

CASTLE ROCK — Officials are making room for new neighbors in the rural community as 44 houses are being built, and developers are petitioning to construct another roughly 200 dwellings. Castle Rock officials said water and sewer systems are ready for additional hookups and schools are considering adding more space.

This summer, a 44-house development with starting prices at around $480,000 broke ground just outside Castle Rock. A developer is expecting to start construction on eight four-story condos on Front Avenue this year, and another is petitioning to build 200 multifamily units at Interstate 5’s Exit 48 as part of a multiuse business park.

Utilities

Public Works Utility Director Dave Vorse said there is space to add people to the city’s water and sewage systems. The city’s potable water system, which also covers Toutle, draws an average of 400,000 gallons a day, with a 2 million gallon capacity, he said. The sewer system averages about 300,000 gallons a day, with an 800,000 gallon capacity, he added.

“We could literally double our size and be fine with our capacity issues,” Vorse said.

The 44-home West Place subdivision off Gassman Road is located just outside the city limits and will use city water, but not the sewer system, said Developer Matt Morris. Each 0.5 acre lot will have its own septic system because buildout from the city’s sewer system was too expensive, he added.

Vorse said the West Place developer paid to extend the main line of the city’s water system to the subdivision. He said people nearby can be added to the system for a $10,000 “late-comer fee” that goes to the developer and a roughly $5,000 fee that goes to the city. Vorse said paying the developer for additional hookups will help recoup the cost of extending the line and encourages local construction.

The city also took out a $2 million state loan this summer to add 8,300 feet to connect two dead ends of the water main at Exit 48 to create more flow for industrial, commercial and residential developments, Vorse said. The water main will be extended near the proposed multiuse business park which developers are petitioning to build on 118 acres of land between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line, Cowlitz River and Salmon Creek at Exit 48. Vorse said the water main will be extended regardless of whether the proposed business park and apartments are built because the city’s undeveloped land at the I-5 exit is valuable real estate. He said all nearby property values likely will rise thanks to the extended water main.

“It will be a valuable asset to the whole interchange no matter what,” he said.

Schools

Castle Rock Superintendent Ryan Greene said the district likely will add temporary structures to house students in the next five years as schools are already near capacity.

The district has faced overcrowding for years. Over the last two years, the district added two roughly 750-square-foot structures, known as portable classrooms, to hold students that could not fit in the district buildings, Greene said. For about three years, the middle school theater stage has been used as a gym after added band and choir students forced the classes to expand to the weight room.

This year, Greene said the kindergarten, first and second grade classes each have more than 100 students, whereas typically only one elementary grade has more than 100 students at a time. The district has grown an average of 7% a year in the last two years, he added, and projected another 500 students could enroll within five years if the same rate continues.

Greene said officials are considering whether to add a bond to ballots within the next three years to expand or build a new school to house the growing number of students. More portable classrooms — which cost less than expanding or building — might need to be added until more permanent solutions are found, he said. If a new building was constructed, the portable classrooms could be used for administrative space.

Over the past five years, three bonds to expand the district’s permanent buildings failed, Greene said. As for now, he said the district is “being creative with spaces.”

“There might be a classroom in a faculty room, there might be a classroom in a portable,” he said, “but we’ll still provide high-quality education.”

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