Item No. 1 - Zoning Amendment at Clear Creek Crossing
Comments & Feedback
I am writing to express my concerns regarding a change increasing building height limitations for the SCL-Lutheran Medical Center (SCL) located within the Clear Creek Crossing Project (CCC). Applicant states that additional building height is needed to accommodate existing hospital rules regarding ceiling height, and also to enable a rooftop helipad and elevator shaft to move patients quickly from the helipad into the hospital. SCL states that since its purchase of property in CCC, it has “refined their needs for PA 1 and their vision for the services they are seeking to provide to the community.” Wheat Ridge Planning Division Staff Report to City Council, 4/13/2020, Lauren Mikulak. (Mikulak)
While the CCC project was initially zoned to allow for hospital uses, no special provisions for building height relating to hospitals and/or helipads was included in that zoning. After SCL applied for rezoning, a neighborhood meeting to allow neighborhood residents to discuss the application occurred on October 23, 2019, during which various neighbors expressed concerns over the proposed height of the building, the helipad height, and air traffic noise and pollution which would be created by helicopters. (Exhibit 6, Mikulak Memo) SCL advised the neighbors that the helipad at SCL’s current location on W. 38th Avenue is used only, on average, 5 times per month. I am uncertain whether this statement means that the helipad is used by patients only on average 5 times per month, or whether this figure represents overall helicopter take-offs and landings. Since I live close to the present SCL-Lutheran Hospital, and often see the helicopter in flight, the 5 times per month figure seems very low.
Once again we have an application for a zoning change by an entity on property purchased shortly before filing its change application. I worry that this will become the norm regarding properties at CCC. An attitude of “buy the property regardless of its zoning because we can easily have the zoning modified to suit our planned use after we purchase the property” shouldn‘t be encouraged. Repeatedly allowing rezoning under these circumstances doesn’t allow property owners to rely on the current zoning within their neighborhoods. The current CCC zoning in area P-1 allows for hospitals. It does not allow for hospitals that are 102’ high, or heliports that rise to 135’ in height. And, most importantly, it did not allow for these heights at the time the property was purchased. I suggest that all other zoning regulations in the CCC complex be reviewed, to insure that other proposed uses and the industry standards governing those uses aren’t in conflict with the CCC zoning, which, according to SCL, is what brought about its need for changes in height requirements. Even without the requested height changes, SCL would be able to build its hospital, by building fewer floors and expanding the ground coverage of its complex.
SCL suggested that it was more than willing to work with nearby neighbors to control noise and air pollution, as well as traffic impacts on their neighborhoods resulting from the new hospital. It would be helpful to the neighbors if SCL agreed to revisit these issues after the hospital has been operating for a period of time, similar to the agreement made between Denver International Airport and Adams County.
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