medical center

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider its recommendation on a special use permit (SUP) for the Fountain Hills Medical Center when it meets for a regular session on Monday, June 8.

When the commission met May 11 it voted to continue the item until its July session. However, staff asked the commission to reconsider the date of the continuance based on timing issues related to council summer break and the applicant’s construction and hospital permitting process.

The SUP being considered would allow for the hospital to operate 24 hours on property with a C-1 zoning designation. C-1 prohibits operational hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Following the commission meeting (May 11) staff reviewed the impact of the delay on the total timeline for the development of this facility,” Development Services Director John Wesley stated in his report to staff. “Because the council takes a break in July and most of August, the (special use permit) would not be considered by the council until that time.

“The delay would create further challenges for the applicant to address the requests of the neighbors and requirements of the approval as more of the project is constructed.”

Wesley also said he had received a letter from the doctors building the medical center outlining how they intended to address neighbors’ concerns. They had withdrawn a request for a variance on a wall between the hospital property and the adjoining residential properties, and made a commitment to reconfigure the ambulance drop-off bay to eliminate any need to back up and trigger the potentially disturbing back-up alarm on the vehicles. Also, the lit sign on the ambulance will be relocated to face away from adjoining properties.

Wesley said they also submitted a revised landscape plan for parties to review prior to the meeting June 8.

Commission Vice Chairman Peter Gray said he had no objection to changing the date, but was concerned the commission might be forced into a “do or die” situation.

Larry Meyers, a citizen representing the adjoining property owners, was at the May 11 session and stated the residents are still not satisfied with the efforts of the developers to address the neighbors’ concerns. He said they had not yet, at that time, seen the letter from the doctors outlining their plan.

Meyers has since sent a letter to staff outlining “requirements” the residents are asking for on the project.

The letter states that issues presented by neighbors in early 2019 have not been addressed or to their satisfaction. The letter does acknowledge the cancellation of the Board of Adjustment review of a variance request to eliminate the property line wall, and the relocation of the illuminated ambulance bay sign. They also note that the revised landscape plan will be considered.

The letter states; however, that the developer has not addressed the key issues of noise, light and traffic. There are concerns about noise from HVAC units which are to be installed on the roof behind a parapet. Neighbors had asked that the design provide for the units to be installed on the ground.

They are also asking that short bollard lights be used instead of lights on posts 15-feet high.

The neighbors also want the widening of Trevino Drive, between Saguaro Blvd. and Burkemo Dr., to be done at one time during phase one of the project. The developer indicates they plan to do that expansion in phases.

The letter is signed by six residents representing four properties on Monterey and Burkemo drives that adjoin the hospital property.

Wesley said the developers have met all of the codes and requirements of the town, which allowed staff to issue the building permits for construction to proceed. He notes that additional requirements may be attached to the special use permit; however, those must be specific to the permit request, in this case 24-hour operation.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet on Monday, June 8, at 6 p.m. in council chambers at Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public, but restrictions on spacing and number continue related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council is scheduled to consider the permit application for approval when it meets on Tuesday, June 16.