A needed zoning change that would allow the Meramec Valley R-III School District to expand Pacific High School by adding a new cafeteria and food preparation room was approved by the Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission at its July meeting.

A second part of the expansion plan also would add a new suite of administrative offices if construction bids on the project come in low enough, according to Superintendent Randy George.

Planning commissioners unanimously approved the expansion with the contingency that the fire district must give its OK. The board of aldermen will consider the zoning change at its next meeting.

George said once it is known that the zone change will be allowed, the school board will have to review the project and give the go-ahead to complete engineering and construction drawings and then seek bids on the project.

The zone change was necessary because the expansion will encroach into the property setback.

Bruce Dell of Hoener and Associates, St. Louis, who is the architect for the project, explained that the location of the new cafeteria and food preparation was the best spot based on the layout of the property.

The plan will move the front lobby entrance from its current location to south of the library and construct a new cafeteria and food preparation center near the new entrance.

It would be the first expansion at the school in many years and the project may be the beginning of a master plan for the campus that has grown in increments since it was built, Hoener said.

The sprawling two-story structure has three wings that contain two gymnasiums, a library, cafeteria/food preparation, and a 350-seat auditorium.

“There was never a master plan,” Dell said. “We looked at the building and land — this is the best way to expand the building.”