Earlier this month, Saratoga Hospital’s $14 million expansion project hit a significant roadblock after two city council members, Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and Mayor Joanne Yepsen, recused themselves from any future votes on the project, due to conflicts of interest.
Franck, who is a certified public accountant, has done business with the homeowner’s associations in the surrounding neighborhood. Yepsen has worked as a fundraising consultant for the hospital.
Nearby residents have taken issue with the planned expansion, which would bring a new medical office complex. After a protest petition was filed by the residents, a change to the local zoning to accommodate the expansion would require a four out of five-vote approval. With the two recusals, the expansion plans flatlined.
At the February 2nd meeting, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan had called for a discussion on the matter. Madigan, Public Works Commissioner ‘Skip’ Scirocco, and Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen all expressed disappointment over the setback.
Madigan said it was unfortunate the city could not work with residents to craft a “mutually beneficial” so-called “planned unit development” for the hospital project.
“That does not mean I agreed with the legislation before us. I think there was some work we could have done on it but we will not have that opportunity, and I think that is unfortunate."
Now one commissioner is seeking to bring the land in question back to residential-only use.
This week, Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen set a public hearing on a change to city’s planning document map, bringing the land surrounding the hospital back to a “residential” designation.
“I would like to set a public hearing to speak about reverting the Comprehensive Plan of 2015 – the map of that Comprehensive Plan – from Institutional Designation from Myrtle Street, north of Church Street, and on Morgan Street to the prior location.”
That hearing date has been set for March 15th at 6:50 p.m.
Following the February 2nd city council meeting Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone expressed frustration and disappointment over the compromised expansion plans and said there was no clear path forward for the hospital at this time.
Calbone could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.