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Council passes hospital expansion plan

Posted: November 19, 2008 8:08 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 9:51 a.m.
 

UPDATED 1:30 a.m. Thursday:
The City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to adopt a resolution certifying the final environmental impact report and adopt a statement of overriding considerations and the mitigating monitoring and reporting program for the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital master plan.

Mayor Bob Kellar dissented in the vote.

The City Council also passed an ordinance for the master plan's development agreement to a second reading. The decision came at a 3-2 vote with Councilwoman Marsha McLean and Mayor Bob Kellar dissenting.

See Friday's edition of The Signal and The-Signal.com for further coverage.

-- TM

++++++++++

As of 9:26 p.m. Wednesday:
An 11th-hour deal signed by supporters and opponents of the Newhall Memorial Hopsital expansion plan stunned both sides late Wednesday, as Santa Clarita City Council members tried to figure how to put the agreement to a vote.

But David Gauny - leader of Smart Growth SCV, which has opposed the expansion plans - balked at finalizing any language and pleaded for another week before the plan goes before the council for a vote.

"I don't want to rule out any of our options moving forward," he told Councilman Frank Ferry during a special meeting Wednesday night.

The overflow crowd included 90 people who wanted to speak for and against the master plan, which would provide a blueprint for the next 15 years of growth for the Santa Clarita Valley's only remaining hospital.

The $300 million growth plan calls for the construction of a 120-bed inpatient building, three medical office buildings, a central plant and four multi-level parking structures totaling 2,231 spaces.

But a deal hammered out Tuesday night during a meeting brokered by KHTS radio station owner Carl Goldman and developer Larry Rasmussen proposed three changes.

The proposal was signed by hospital CEO Roger Seaver and Smart Growth SCV supporters Gauny and Tony Newhall. Seaver said it called for assurances that expansion opponents would not sue if the master plan was approved.

Gauny, however, noted that he couldn't prevent anyone else from suing the hospital.

Newhall said the agreement was more of a memorandum of understanding than a final document that could be added to the hospital expansion proposal.

The agreement calls for:

1) A commitment that the new inpatient building will be substantially under construction before a permit is issued for the third medical office building on campus;

2) At least 20 percent of medical office building three being set aside for use as Centers for Excellence;

3) Reduced height for the inpatient building and supporting facilities.

Councilwoman Laurie Ender expressed skepticism about the deal's simplicity.

"This compromise doesn't address 90 percent of those (Smart Growth) concerns" about the master plan, she said. "(So it's) just lower the building and we're good?"

Hospital officials submitted their first plan to expand Newhall Memorial some 4 1/2 years ago. Seaver recently said if the master plan isn't approved soon, the hospital's campus might remain its current size, which is inadequate for the valley's present population.

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