The Sept. 7 Town Council meeting is expected to include consideration of updated zoning to cover the question: What is a hospital? This issue has generated a lot of public interest and attendance at meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Here’s a recap of the issue. Keep in mind that construction of the current Fountain Hills Medical Center near Shea and Saguaro required variances to current zoning ordinances. The concern of many residents of Fountain Hills was that our current zoning could allow facilities which specialize in areas such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other longer-term psychiatric treatment. While these facilities serve a need, they typically bring serious social and economic consequences to the residents and businesses of municipalities where they are located. There are numerous examples of this negative impact in Arizona and elsewhere. So, many Fountain Hills residents voiced legitimate concerns.
To address the issue, the Planning and Zoning Commission did its job and is recommending an updated ordinance which provides a clear description of a hospital and what is and what is not allowed in Fountain Hills. I've read the proposed ordinance and, as someone who has worked in and for hospitals for over 35 years, I find it to be very well written and accurate. I believe that it goes a long way to address the concerns raised by many people in town and protect us against negative consequences.
Will the Town Council accept the expert recommendation of Planning and Zoning and approve the well-written and accurate ordinance as is, or will they tinker with it and make unwanted and harmful amendments to defeat its purpose? My advice and hope is that council votes “yes” on the ordinance as is. Listen to the people and don’t tinker with what works.