The city Planning Commission approved the controversial Ellis Hospital parking garage proposal Wednesday evening, according to Zoning Officer Steve Strichman, who reported the approval on Twitter.
The hospital wants to build a five-story garage on Rosa Road, although some residents who live near the site are vehemently opposed.
Hospital officials had changed the garage plans in response to residents’ complaints to the Board of Zoning Appeals earlier this year, but there is still significant opposition to the project. An earlier proposal called for a 52-foot-tall garage at the edge of the hospital property in a residential neighborhood.
This summer, residents argued the garage would loom over the neighborhood, bother them with constant lights and keep 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 18 feet from the edge of Rosa Road, a change that would keep the shadow of the building from falling on 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 had 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 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.
Opponents have said that patients from outside of 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 of the vehicles.