Planned Green Valley hospital meets resistance

Its impact on homes, nearby historic ranch sparks major concern
2012-11-27T00:00:00Z Planned Green Valley hospital meets resistanceStephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Plans to build Green Valley's first emergency-care hospital have run into a snag.

A homeowners association is opposing the height and size of the proposed $52 million project, which is planned for a 22-acre site just east of Interstate 19 by the Canoa Ranch exit, about 25 miles south of Tucson.

Residents of The Springs at Santa Rita northeast of the site say a two-story hospital will hurt their property values.

A Nov. 12 letter from homeowners association President Sandie Stone says, among other things, that residents are worried about round-the-clock traffic and light pollution. Stone writes that officials of the association, which represents more than 440 homes, believe the hospital also will obstruct residents' views of Canoa Ranch, one of the oldest ranches in the Santa Cruz Valley.

Additionally, a committee that oversees the historic, county-owned Canoa Ranch sent a letter to county officials citing "several serious concerns" about the planned hospital, including vibration from medical helicopters that could damage ranch structures.

The county's Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the hospital Wednesday (See If You Go box).

Scottsdale-based McDowell Enterprises entered into a "memorandum of understanding" with Tucson Medical Center in September to build the hospital, which would serve some 50,000 people who live in Green Valley, home to many retirees, and the rapidly growing Sahuarita area. The area does not currently have a hospital or emergency room, and residents must travel about 30 minutes by car to get to an ER.

A recent community-needs assessment completed by Tucson's nonprofit hospitals identified Green Valley as a medically underserved area. Recent additions of urgent-care clinics and a clinic with rotating specialties have been positive steps for the area, but without a hospital, there is still a gap in services.

McDowell Enterprises is asking the county for several zoning variations, including a modification to allow the hospital to be 138,533 square feet, rather than the 100,000 square feet currently allowed.

The plans include a rehabilitation center, medical offices, cardiac catheterization lab, four operating rooms, on-site radiological imaging labs, 26 inpatient private rooms, a six-bed intensive-care unit, a helipad, and the potential to expand from 32 beds to 50. Officials have said they will build with the ability to expand the hospital as the community grows. The hospital is tentatively planned to open in 2014.

In addition to the letter of concern from the Canoa Ranch oversight committee and the letter of opposition from The Springs at Santa Rita homeowners' association, county officials have received several other letters from individuals in the housing development who oppose the project.

However, the Green Valley Council's planning and architectural committee has endorsed the project, said Stan Riddle, president of the Green Valley Council.

Riddle stressed the hospital is still in its very early stages and that there are still issues that are subject to review. But he noted the property, which is immediately north of Canoa Ranch, is already zoned for commercial use and that the community has needed a hospital for a long time.

Frank Thomson, a planner who is working with McDowell Enterprises, said there are 20 acres in between The Springs at Santa Rita and the proposed hospital site. He hopes to meet with homeowners and says he's optimistic about reaching a resolution.

TMC entered into the agreement through its subsidiary, Saguaro Medical Holdings. Though TMC is nonprofit, the new Green Valley hospital would be for-profit. Officials have said it's too early in the process to know specifics of the financing.

IF YOU GO

A public hearing on the proposed Green Valley hospital, before Pima County's Planning and Zoning Commission, is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in the basement conference room of the county's Public Works Building, 201 N. Stone Ave. in Tucson.

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at sinnes@azstarnet.com or 573-4134.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Follow the Arizona Daily Star