Gilbert has granted Banner Health a special meeting to expedite the health care company’s plans to build a hospital.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet Dec. 17 to review the company’s request for rezoning and a minor general plan amendment that would allow the Phoenix-based company to construct Banner Gilbert Medical Center on the southwest corner of the future Santan Freeway and Val Vista Drive.
The nearly 40-acre hospital site is on the opposite side of Val Vista from the planned Catholic Healthcare West’s Gilbert Medical Campus, which had its zoning and major general plan amendment unanimously approved last week by the Gilbert Town Council.
The Gilbert Planning and Zoning Commission called the special meeting, which was requested by Banner Health. The next regularly scheduled commission meeting is Jan. 7.
The Town Council, which makes the final decision, could vote on the project in January.
"It’s an important economic development project for the town. . . . And we’re trying to be accommodating," Gilbert planning director Jerry Swanson said.
Banner Health purchased land earlier this year in a county island surrounded by Gilbert and initially decided to file its rezoning application with Maricopa County. Earlier this month, Banner Health withdrew its county application and filed with Gilbert. As part of the application, the council also will consider annexing the county island into the town, which it legally can do if petitioned by a majority of the landowners. In this case, Banner owns the land.
Banner Gilbert Medical Center project leader Kathy Bollinger said the company originally chose to pursue rezoning from the county to avoid a referendum, which is nearly impossible to obtain at the county level. Banner no longer believes a referendum is likely, she said.
Despite the late switch from the county to town process, Bollinger said Banner has pushed up the opening date of the new hospital from early 2006 to late 2005, with the other medical buildings scheduled to open three months before the hospital.
Banner Health took over the Valley’s Samaritan and Lutheran hospitals. It owns four Mesa hospitals, including Banner Desert Medical Center, formerly Desert Samaritan Hospital.