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What you need to know for 01/23/2018

Planning Commission set to rule on Ellis garage

Planning Commission set to rule on Ellis garage

Next Wednesday, city officials will make the final decision on the controversial Ellis Hospital park

Next Wednesday, city officials will make the final decision on the controversial Ellis Hospital parking garage.

The hospital wants a five-story garage. Some residents who live near the site are vehemently opposed.

The Planning Commission will make its decision during its regular meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at City Hall.

The item is at the very end of the agenda, so those who want to watch may have a long wait.

Hospital officials changed the garage plans in response to residents’ complaints at the Board of Zoning Appeals earlier this year. But there is still significant opposition to the project, which would place the 52-foot-tall garage at the very edge of the hospital property in a residential neighborhood.

This summer, residents argued that the garage would loom over the neighborhood, turning night into day with its constant lights and keeping people awake with the sound of traffic.

So hospital officials changed the plan to include baffles that would block much of the noise and light. They also made the garage more aesthetically pleasing by adding bricks to the facade, and proposed taller trees in front of it to hide the lower part of the building from sight.

They also moved it from the edge of Rosa Road. It is now slated to be built 18 feet from the road, a change that would keep the shadow of the building from falling on the houses across the street.

The hospital received a height restriction waiver this summer from the Board of Zoning Appeals, allowing the project to proceed to the Planning Commission, which has the final say.

In September, the Planning Commission postponed a decision and asked hospital officials to come back with a plan that lessened the impact on the neighborhood. Chairwoman Sharran Coppola also questioned the need for such a tall garage.

Hospital officials have said they need 390 spaces to serve the Emergency Department that is now under construction as well as patients coming to doctors’ offices that may someday be built above the Emergency Department.

The second floor of the building will be built as a “shell” for now and later could be marketed to doctors, hospital officials said. It’s not yet clear whether those doctors would bring in their own patients or run tests on patients already at the hospital.

Opponents have said patients from outside the hospital could park in other lots and walk to their doctors’ offices. But hospital officials said they would eventually have so many patients coming to the Emergency Department that they would need a five-story garage to handle all the vehicles.

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