The Pasco City Council on Monday unanimously approved a special permit allowing a 55,000-square-foot expansion of the Franklin County Courthouse and jail.
Voters in November approved a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to pay to expand the almost 30-year-old jail, which routinely sees double the number of inmates for which it was built, according to a city staff report.
The expansion will add a new 192-bed jail to the existing facility, which will be remodeled once the new jail is complete.
The project also will add Pasco Municipal Court space, a Pasco police station and a gang-suppression program.
The new and remodeled jail will be a two-tiered building with cell blocks arranged in a wheel around a small area where the overhead master control booth hangs. An officer inside it would control the interlocked doors and monitor the cells by sight and video.
Franklin County commissioners said at a meeting in May that when they signed off on the sale of $20 million in bonds for the project, the county hopes to go to bid in August and start construction in the fall.
The expanded jail will be built first, then inmates will be moved from the current jail to the expansion so the remodel of the existing jail can take place.
The expanded jail will be north of the current jail, with a two-story administration building that may have Pasco Municipal Court on the first floor and the sheriff's office, information services and dispatch center on the second floor.
The administration building will face Fourth Avenue and feature brick and mortar similar to the county courthouse.
Construction is expected to take 16 to 18 months to finish both phases.
Also Monday, the council:
-- Voted 4-2 to send a letter to state and federal officials asking the two governments to reconcile conflicts in state and federal laws regarding medical marijuana growing and possession. Mayor Matt Watkins and Councilmen Mike Garrison, Saul Martinez and Al Yenney voted yes. Councilmen Bob Hoffmann and Tom Larsen voted no.
-- Unanimously approved a six-year transportation plan for 2013-18 that includes improvements to Road 68 and surrounding streets, widening of Argent Road and improvements to Oregon Avenue in 2013.
-- Voted 5-1 to deny an appeal seeking to stop a church preschool on Road 72 from expanding from 50 students to 80. Council members agreed with the planning commission that no valid reason existed to deny the permit. Larsen voted against granting the permit.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; email@example.com