A rendering of Open Door Community Health Centers’ proposed Arcata Community Health Center. The Arcata Planning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously recommended the Arcata City Council approve the health center’s permits and environmental documents, which could happen as early as March 4. (Open Door Community Health Centers — Contributed)
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The Arcata Community Health Center is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Arcata Planning Commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved sending a recommendation to the Arcata City Council to approve the permits and environmental documents associated with Open Door Community Health Centers’ proposed new health center, which will replace the two aging facilities it currently uses in Arcata.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting project,” said Planning Commission Vice Chair Judith Mayer, “and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Open Door health center built.”

The environmental impact report for the project found there would be significant unavoidable impacts to traffic, but mitigation measures would incorporate constructing sidewalks and bus stops nearby to encourage other forms of transportation, such as walking and riding the bus.

The environmental impact report also stated Arcata and Open Door would enter into a development agreement “to establish, collect, and disburse proportional traffic mitigation fees for future traffic improvements.”

The Planning Commission’s approval Tuesday night included a recommendation to adopt a statement of overriding considerations for the traffic impacts, which is necessary to approve environmental documents for a project that has significant unavoidable impacts.

The statement of overriding considerations states the mitigation measures put in place “will avoid or substantially lessen the significant effects” on traffic, and any lingering effects are overshadowed by the benefits of the project, such as providing health care and employment.

Arcata senior planner Joe Mateer said the environmental impact report also incorporates the concerns of the Wiyot Tribe, who will have cultural monitors on site during ground-disturbing activities.

“That’s not an uncommon standard protocol,” Mateer said. “In some cases, we have inadvertent discovery of cultural resources.”

The applicant, Open Door, also suggested the cultural monitors from the get-go, Mateer said.

The Arcata Community Health Center will consolidate and replace the services being provided at Open Door’s current Arcata facilities, the Humboldt Open Door Clinic and North Country Clinic.

The two previous facilities are aging, weren’t originally designed to be health care facilities and modernizing them would have been costly, the environmental impact report stated.

The Arcata Community Health Center could come before the City Council as early as March 4, Mateer said.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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