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The Town Council set up a win for all interested when it voted unanimously June 4 to make a zoning adjustment on property being proposed for the first hospital in Fountain Hills.

With two votes the council reverted an existing PAD zoning on the parcel at Saguaro Boulevard and Trevino Drive to its original C-1 zoning. With its second vote the council rejected a request to rezone the C-1 to C-2 commercial zoning.

Neighbors with property adjoining the parcel were happy to have the C-1 zoning, seeing it as more compatible with the residential housing nearby. The hospital developer is likely to need a special use permit to allow for 24/7 operation as the plan progresses.

While many have been supportive of the hospital proposal, the neighbors were adamant they did not want C-2 zoning on the site due to the allowable building height and potential for more intense commercial uses permitted. The group was quite vocal at the Planning and Zoning hearing on the issue.

After she opened the public hearing, Mayor Ginny Dickey immediately asked council members for their public comments and it quickly became clear the council would support the C-1 zoning on the site and not vote to change it to C-2.

Dickey noted there are concerns about traffic and parking, as well as landscaping that will need mitigation, but said she is positive about the potential for long-term success.

“We want a project we can be proud of,” Dickey said. “I’m much more comfortable with the C-1.”

Long-time resident Jane Bell, whose home adjoins the property, was pleased. Bell was among those very vocal in opposing a plan for an assisted living facility on the same property about a year ago.

“Thank you for keeping this C-1,” Bell said. “I’m going home tonight to celebrate.”

Project plan

The developers have announced plans to have Phase I of the medical center, a hospital and emergency room, open in nine to 12 months to provide 24/7 emergency and walk-in urgent care, according to Andrea Davis CRE, commercial real estate advisor for the group.

Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeume and Dr. Sandeep Yarlagadda are the physicians behind bringing Fountain Hills its first community hospital. They have been in the business of working with troubled hospitals around the country and re-staffing and reorganizing them for success. Pete Peters, based in Texas, is the development project manager. Peters has been involved in the development of micro-hospitals in Texas since 1995.

The Fountain Hills Medical Center will provide a full service emergency department (seeing pediatric and adults), primary care/urgent care and walk-in clinic.

The new hospital will be located at 9700 E. Saguaro Blvd. and sits on approximately 5.74 acres. This is the lot on the northwest corner of Saguaro and Trevino Drive.

The hospital is designed in three phases. The cost for Phase I of the hospital is $15 million and projects between 50 and 75 new jobs for the Fountain Hills community. Phase II incorporates operating rooms and Phase III includes additional diagnostic medical services. Davis said the plan is to have Phase II under construction about one year after completion of Phase I.

Fountain Hills Medical Center is planned as a physician-owned hospital offering a variety of services, including an emergency room, imaging center with CT, MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, laboratory, pharmacy and in-patient beds. The fully accredited hospital is planned to serve both children and adults and include in-patient and primary care. The hospital will accept all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Davis said doctors Ezeume and Yarlagadda did the research in determining a location and decided that Fountain Hills is an ideal location for the proposed project.

A statement provided by the development team states “the Fountain Hills Medical Center medical management team promises a quality healthcare facility for the Fountain Hills community that will be staffed with people who live in the community.

“We listened to the community’s outcry for more choices in emergency and in-patient care closer to home and are excited to build the next chapter of healthcare in Fountain Hills.”

The medical center management team has developed a website so individuals interested in learning more about the hospital may visit fhmcaz.com.