Thursday, July 2, 2009

HCRPC to consider amendments for Mercy Hospital move today

The Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission (HCRPC) today will consider an amendment to the Green Township Land Use Plan that could pave the way for Mercy Hospital's move to Monfort Heights.

Anchor Properties is seeking to have 66 acres at North Bend Road, Boomer Road and I-74 changed to general office and public/semi-public/institutional (PSI) uses.

Portions of the site currently are assigned attached single-family and single-family uses.

Forty-one acres would be reserved for the $200 million hospital; seventeen acres on the western half of the site and eight acres on the northeastern portion would change to general office to support an associated medical office complex.

HCRPC staff has recommended adoption of the amendment, since the site is surrounded by non-residential uses.

"The area is adjacent to an interstate highway and is very close to the North Bend Road interchange," said an HCRPC staff report. "Large-scale regional uses, such as hospitals and associated medical office parks, are best located in areas that are easily accessible from regional highways. Interchanges offer this ease of access and are the best locations for regional uses."

Township cautious

In early June, after some apprehension, Green Township Trustees approved rezoning the property to support the project.

Opposition to the project over traffic, noise pollution, and a perceived lack of need had surfaced, and more than 1,200 residents of the township signed a petition to try to stop it.

But the worry that new sanitary sewer service at the site and high tap-in fees for developers might lead to increased density – therefore, multi-family housing along the North Bend corridor – caused the trustees to relent…with conditions.

What emerged were 46 development strategies, which the HCRPC distilled into a core set of guidelines, including the amount of parking spaces and impervious surfaces, underground utilities, good interior pedestrian and automobile connectivity, elimination of blank fa├žades, natural cladding, screening of rooftop mechanicals, monument-style signage, adequate landscaping, and vegetated slopes and retaining walls.

If the land use plan amendment is approved, final zoning compliance plans will be reviewed by Green Township Trustees and then submitted to the Rural Zoning Commission for approval.

The new hospital could be open as soon as early 2014 and is expected to bring up to 1,500 jobs to the area.

Emergency rooms and inpatient services at Mercy hospitals in Mount Airy and in Western Hills would be closed.