Saratoga Hospital plan draws fire from neighbors
By Dennis Yusko (Times Union) on December 11, 2015 at 4:39 PM
- Saratoga Hospital will present its latest expansion plans on Tuesday amid neighbors’ concerns that its proposed medical building for Morgan Street would overwhelm the residential area and lower property values. The project hinges on the City Council authorizing the hospital’s application for a zoning change from urban residential to a planned unit development (PUD). After a handful of residents objected to the project earlier this month, Matthew Jones, an attorney representing the hospital, agreed to provide a 15-minute summary of the project during a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall. The project is opposed by some members of the Birch Run homeowners’ association, who live nearby and worry the large building will bring unmanageable traffic, flooding and light pollution. “This is just a very, very large project that is taking up one of the last green areas on the west side,” said Dean Higgins, an attorney who is president of the homeowners’ association. “I’m concerned for the whole neighborhood.” Founded on Church Street in 1911, Saratoga Hospital employs 2,200 individuals, and spends $750,000 on 10 leased locations in the area, Jones said. The proposed 53-foot high medical building’s interior would measure 75,000-square-feet, though the PUD amendment seeks 88,500-square-feet as a maximum size, Jones said. The project is the latest in a series of expansions the hospital has proposed.In an interview Friday, Morgan Street resident Jack Despart, who lives directly across from the proposed project site, said he wants the area’s zoning to remain residential. If the hospital develops the Morgan Street lot, it would cut into the value of nearby homes because no one would want to buy property that’s essentially surrounded by hospital facilities, Despart said. The hospital has an option to purchase the Morgan Street parcel from D.A. Collins. The City Council this summer adopted changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan that allow for a medical office building to be constructed in the area. That led to the Planning Board in October to issue a favorable advisory opinion on the rezoning request to the City Council. The Planning Board also determined the medical building would not have an adverse effect on the environment. If the council approves rezoning the parcel, the project would return to the Planning Board for a site plan vote.
- “I don’t want to walk out my front door and see a 50-foot building in front of me,” Despart said. “I can hardly get out of my driveway now.”
- The facility just completed a $33 million extension of its surgical unit on the southwest corner of its Church Street property, and in the last couple of years, built a $30 million emergency center and a $3.6 million orthopedic center. Some homeowners in the area are beginning to feel boxed-in by the activity.
- Map shows parcel where Saratoga Hospital wants to build an at least 75,000-square-foot medical office building. (Matthew Jones)
- “This building is necessary for the hospital,” Jones recently told the council. The project is part of the hospital’s effort to increase efficiency and save money by centralizing physicians under one roof that is owned by the hospital, he said.
- The hospital on Church Street applied to build an 88,500-square-foot medical office building with at least 300 parking spaces on a vacant 8.5-acre site located a few blocks away. The three-story structure would allow doctors and staff that work off-site to relocate into one medical building that is about 200 yards north of the hospital.
- Rendering of Saratoga Hospital’s proposed medical building for Morgan Street in Saratoga Springs. (Provided by Matthew Jones).