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Zoning for hospital plan OK’d

Zoning for hospital plan OK’d

The Town Board on Monday gave final zoning approval to plans for a $350 million medical complex that

The Town Board on Monday gave final zoning approval to plans for a $350 million medical complex that may include a new hospital at the former Exit 12 horse farm.

The unanimous zoning approval for the project proposed by Saratoga Hospital came at the end of 21⁄2 years of town review of the plans. Construction is still years away.

“The zoning gives us the latitude to provide the full contingent of health care services if they are needed, but we will be responding to the needs of the community,” said Angelo Calbone, president and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, who attended the meeting.

It could take 20 or 25 years for the site to be fully developed, he said. The next steps will be discussions with private developers about building medical offices, and making arrangements to bring public water and sewer infrastructure to the site, he said.

The Saratoga Medical Park project required a zoning change from the current residential designation to a planned development district tailored to Saratoga Hospital’s plans.

The new complex would be built on the scenic site of the former Saratoga Standardbred horse farm at the northwest corner of the interstate exit — one of the iconic spots in town, which town officials sought to protect. Under the zoning approval, 53 percent of the 139-acre property will remain green space.

The fenced fields nearest Route 67 would remain open land, with the new buildings concentrated at the center of the site.

Calbone said he understand that the zoning change and the project’s impacts needed a lengthy town review.

“The town considers it an important piece of property, and we understand that,” he said.

Town officials have been supportive of the concept since the hospital first proposed it in the spring of 2007. After it stopped being a horse farm more than a decade ago, ideas for the site have included an office complex and a Cabela’s sporting goods superstore, but town officials generally resisted those proposals.

The Town Board adopted a resolution in April saying the expected environmental impacts have been addressed, paving the way for Monday’s vote.

The hospital bought the land for $8 million in 2007.

The hospital’s plans include a 1-million-square-foot group of buildings that may include a new hospital, along with medical offices and an assisted-living facility. An urgent care center is likely to be the first building, hospital officials have said.

The main entrance will be from the Route 67 roundabout in front of State Farm Insurance.

“This is really just the first step,” Calbone said of the zoning change. “We are looking forward to getting the zoning approval finalized before we pursue the next steps.”

Bringing public water to the site from the town of Ballston is expected to cost $1.7 million. In June, the project received a $300,000 federal appropriation to offset some of that cost.

“It’s enough space to truly be a 25-year plan for us,” Calbone said. “We need to grow with the community. We really can’t say what may be needed in 10 years.”

Calbone said he doesn’t expect the new facility to have any impact on Saratoga Hospital in Saratoga Springs, but the town facility will replace the hospital’s urgent care center on Route 9 in Malta.

During a public hearing before the vote, Brian Taft of the Malta Ambulance Corps said town and hospital officials need to be aware a major medical facility will mean more calls for the local ambulance service.

“I think it’s a great project. I just want to be sure Malta Ambulance is kept in the loop,” Taft said.

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