A Salt Lake City councilwoman said Friday that LDS Hospital is breaking a decade-old no-growth promise by building a new physician's office at its Avenues hospital complex.
But hospital officials say their plans to build a 20-physician office complex are within an agreement reached with the city and Avenues residents who surround the hospital.The hospital is scheduled to appear Jan. 9 before the Salt Lake City Board of Adjustments to try to secure several variances for the office complex on the southeast corner of Ninth Avenue and D Street.
The office building, which would include additional parking space, will actually be an addition to the hospital's existing surgical center, city Deputy Planning Director Brent Wilde said.
But City Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck, who represents the Avenues district, said the expansion flies in the face of promises made by the hospital when it built a new hospital in 1979.
"It sounds like this is growth at LDS Hospital in direct violation of the promise that there would be no more growth," for 50 years, she said.
Fonnesbeck said further growth of the hospital is out of character for the historic Avenues neighborhood, primarily a center for residential living.
"It's in the middle of a highly residential area," Fonnesbeck said. "If they were out where there was plenty of land to expand, it would be fine."
But Richard Scott, an assistant hospital administrator, said the proposed expansion is within the intent of the agreement.
"The (hospital) did make an agreement to confine the growth to certain blocks and by doing this office we are not violating this agreement in any way," he said.
The agreement spelled out a district bound by B Street, E Street and Seventh and Tenth Avenues within which growth could occur, Scott said.
The hospital is scheduled to appear before the Board of Adjustments to seek a permit to build the addition on to a building that currently does not conform to minimum parking requirements, according to the city planning office.
A variance is also needed because the proposed office building exceeds height limits for the residential area and intrudes into the rear yard of an adjacent residential home owned by the hospital, the planning office said.
Fonnesbeck said she would testify at the board hearing in an attempt to kill the expansion plan.
Avenues Community Council Chairman Willy Littig said he would lobby to ensure that the hospital be a "good neighbor" and effectively address parking and traffic congestion issues and other issues connected with the office.
"We aren't telling them what they should do, but I think some of our suggestions could be constructive," he said.
"I am a neighbor," Scott said. "I live two blocks from the hospital. . . . I'm one of these people, I know them and I appreciate them and we want to give them every consideration."