Hospital planning to build new ambulance garage

Must first rezone property

Posted 10/12/21

Powell Valley Hospital District, which owns the properties of the Powell Valley Healthcare campus, is pursuing a rezoning of the property on which The Heartland sits. 

Whereas most of the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Hospital planning to build new ambulance garage

Must first rezone property

Posted

Powell Valley Hospital District, which owns the properties of the Powell Valley Healthcare campus, is pursuing a rezoning of the property on which The Heartland sits. 

Whereas most of the hospital campus is zoned residential general (RG), The Heartland is on property currently zoned residential limited (RL), which doesn’t permit hospital facilities. 

It’s uncertain how that portion of the PVHC campus ended up in a zone limited to residential use. The surrounding residential neighborhood is zoned that way, but the hospital district’s property has always been used for medical purposes. In 1947, the War Memorial Hospital was built on the site and later demolished before the construction of The Heartland.

No one apparently noticed the RL zone didn’t permit hospital facilities until the hospital district began looking at requirements to build an ambulance garage on the east end of the Powell Valley Clinic parking lot. 

“Originally there was a hospital there, but somewhere along the line it got zoned wrong,” said Scott Shopa, director of facility management for PVHC. 

Powell Valley Healthcare leaders initially planned to build the new facility on Grand Street, in a field that sits west of the care center. Originally, the hospital planned a 2,240 square foot structure, but under the current plans, which could still change, it will be 2,700 square feet. Leaders also decided to switch locations so the property on Grand Street will remain available if PVHC plans a larger construction project in the future. The new location by the clinic will also have less impact on neighboring residences. 

At the PVHC board meeting last month, Shopa received board approval to pursue the rezoning. 

The hospital will begin discussing the plans with the Powell City Council this month. Before the area can be rezoned to facilitate the garage construction, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will need to consider the request and make a recommendation to the council. The council will then need to hold a public hearing and have three readings on the measure before it can pass. 

The process could bring out many unknowns, including public objections, but City Administrator Zack Thorington said it wouldn’t conflict with “spot zoning” issues. (City code forbids islands, where a property or group of properties has a different zone from adjacent areas.) 

Shopa said the garage the hospital intends to build will be used for storage and maintenance of ambulances, but it will not be used as a dispatch facility. 

“There should be no encumbrance on the surrounding neighborhood, and a siren should never go on at that location,” Shopa said. 

He said the only situation where ambulances would be dispatched from that garage would be a very large event — and if that many vehicles were needed, it’s unlikely the hospital would have the drivers for all of them. 

Further,  Shopa said, the ambulances now dispatched from the hospital’s ambulance bay typically don’t turn their sirens on until they reach Coulter Avenue. 

Were it not for The Heartland likely qualifying as a healthcare facility, the property would probably not need to be rezoned for the new garage; the RL zone permits accessory buildings, Thorington said, which would include garages.

Back in July, Park County commissioners agreed to give Powell Valley Healthcare $298,493 to construct the new ambulance station and $209,025 for a new ambulance, with the federal dollars coming from the county’s share of the American Rescue Plan. PVHC said the garage could house the entire EMS fleet, while also being available for drive-up testing and vaccination.

Comments