John Brooks said he studied the zoning of a nearby 102 acres, the freeway construction plans and even airport flight paths before purchasing his home, only to learn a few months later that a health care group was about to build nearby.
Carol Cordova, a Gilbert resident with a neurological movement disorder, looks forward to the day a hospital affiliated with the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix will open in her hometown.
Brooks and Cordova were two of the roughly 75 people who attended the first Gilbert Planning and Zoning Commission public meeting to discuss Catholic Healthcare West’s proposed hospital on the southeast corner of Val Vista Drive and the future Santan Freeway stretch of L oop 202. The Gilbert Medical Campus is across the street from a proposed Banner Health hospital.
The public meeting Wednesday at the Southeast Regional Library, which attracted opponents and supporters, was the first of two required by the commission for Catholic Healthcare’s requested major general plan amendment. The meeting was for discussion only.
The commission must also hold one public hearing for Catholic Healthcare’s rezoning request. The group will forward recommendations to the Town Council, which is expected to rule on both requests by the end of the year.
Catholic Healthcare West, which operates Chandler Regional Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and Barrow, is seeking to change 102 acres of Gilbert’s voterapproved general plan from residential, light industrial and shopping center to public facility/institutional and general office. This would allow development of a hospital, medical offices and research facilities.
Opponents of the project live in the neighborhoods south and east of the site and have threatened a referendum drive if the hospital is approved. Supporters spoke of the need for closer health care facilities.
"This will be similar to the Bank of America building in Mesa — it’s just out of place," said Stuart Booth, who lives nearby and opposes the project.
Eric Hunley, who lives near Queen Creek and Higley roads, said the nearest hospital today is 15 to 30 minutes away. He supports both proposed hospitals.
"If there’s 50 people in line at one hospital, I’ll go across the street to the other," Hunley said.
Also on Wednesday, Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman met with Catholic Healthcare and Banner Health representatives, who said they agreed to continue their policy of not opposing the competitor’s project.