ELK GROVE, Calif. — In a meeting that stretched past midnight, the plan to build a new hospital in Elk Grove hit a major roadblock. The Elk Grove planning commission voted 3-0 against the project, sending a recommendation of denial to the full city council.
It was a victory for neighbors who live in the Stone Lakes Community and have been fighting to stop the new hospital from being built in their backyard.
"It caught us off guard," said Kelvin Ho. "We're actually considering looking elsewhere to live. We're not, you know, happy with what could happen."
California Northstate University [CNU] is proposing a 400-bed teaching hospital off Interstate 5 on West Taron Drive. The building would include a 150-unit dormitory, 3,400 parking spots, retail space and a Helistop for transfers.
"We respectfully disagree with the Planning Commission’s decision to reject its own staff recommendation, but appreciated the robust public discussion and look forward to the upcoming hearing before the City Council," CNU spokesperson Brian Holloway said in a statement.
Neighbors are against the new 11-story building, they say would tower over the community. Residents also worry about environmental concerns with Stone lake National wildlife refuge nearby and the potential traffic, noise and impact on the area's air quality.
In an hours-long planning commission meeting Thursday night, dozens of neighbors fought against a proposed teaching hospital, but not everyone at the meeting was against the proposed hospital. Several people from medical, real estate and construction fields called into the meeting to voice their support of the project.
Project managers say that for the last two years, they have been working on a plan that will bring in needed high-quality medical care to the community, as well as $4 billion of economic output for the region. Managers continue to stand by that data even after it was disputed by a second opinion commissioned by the Stonelake Homeowner’s Association.
"CNU's commitment and intent is to heal and help," said Project Consultant Alan Warren.
Some changes proposed by the university include changing the helicopter flight path to the hospital to follow the American Bird Conservancy guidelines.
In a final vote, commissioners George Murphy, Sergio Robles, and Mackenzie Wieser voted 3-0 to send a recommendation of denial to the Elk Grove City Council.
Two commissioners, Andrew Shuck and Tony Lin recused themselves. Shuck cited family members who live in the Stone Lake community, and Lin cited his work with an organization that receives substantial donations from CNU.
Despite multiple arrests, the police department continues to investigate a series of explosions.