A larger-than-expected crowd forced the hearing to be postponed as the number of people in attendance exceeded the Grand Haven Township board room’s capacity.
"I have some bad news — we were just informed by the fire marshal that we've gone in excess of the number of people (allowed) in this room," Township Manager Bill Cargo said prior to the start of Monday night's hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. "We will not be able to have a public hearing tonight."
And with that announcement, as quickly as people filed in to the board room, they made their way back out, with the room nearly empty by 7:15 p.m. for the remainder of the Township Board meeting.
The board room is rated to house 226 people, and on Monday night, the number of people in attendance exceeded that number, Cargo said. Attendees were blocking the entrances and standing around the room, and the Grand Haven Township fire marshal was keeping tabs on the number of people filing in.
"We will have to reschedule this to a time when we'll not violate the fire code," Cargo said.
The likely date for the rescheduled public hearing is Jan. 11, 2016, at a larger venue — possibly Grand Haven High School’s auditorium.
Cargo noted that leading up to Monday night’s meeting, they weren’t expecting to have an issue with capacity until they found out that employees of North Ottawa Community Health System were encouraged to attend the hearing.
“At that point, I realized we might not have 120. We may have 320,” said Cargo.
Jennifer VanSkiver, chief communications officer for NOCHS, said they “were overwhelmed by the strong show of support” who came out to Monday night’s meeting.
“Although we are disappointed we did not get the opportunity to voice our concerns about this proposed project this evening, we look forward to January when the township reconvenes for the rescheduled public hearing,” she said. “We remain hopeful that the township trustees will take this time to learn more about the overall business plans of this proposed development, so that together we can manage it's impact to the region."
The Township Board is being asked to approve four departures from the township’s zoning ordinance that’d allow the Health Pointe development to move forward: allowing a building height of approximately 55 feet, approving a total of 590 parking spaces, allowing landscape islands equal to the length of parking spaces, and allowing three 8-foot-tall ground signs.
The purpose of Monday night’s public hearing was to gather comments from residents regarding these departures from the zoning ordinance.
Township officials say the Board can only factor in the zoning ordinance when making its decision on the new facility, and can’t use outside factors such as whether or not there’s a need for a new health care facility, or how it might impact existing services.
If the application is approved, the developer could submit drawings for the building and infrastructure in order to begin the plan review and permitting process. If the application is denied, developers would have two options: make revisions to the site plan and resubmit them, or appeal the decision with Ottawa County Circuit Court.
Representatives from Spectrum Health and Holland Hospital say the primary focus of the planned facility is to serve its current patients in the area and allow room for growth.
Planned services that would be offered at Health Pointe would include primary care, urgent care, radiology and laboratory services, specialty physician services, and CT, MRI and ambulatory surgical services. A future phase would allow for a vertical addition of a single-story ambulatory surgical center, should the growth in outpatient surgical volumes require more space.