Win some, lose some: Construction of East Cobb Health Park clears hurdle
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
October 26, 2011 12:07 AM | 3233 views | 3 3 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WellStar is proposing to build a surgery center and doctors’ offices — the WellStar East Cobb Health Park — at this property at 3624 Providence Road in east Cobb. WellStar Health System was once again granted permission from the state to include an outpatient surgery center in its plans for the 205,000-square-foot, $80 million health park in east Cobb when an appeal filed by Northside Hospital was denied by the state on Monday.<br>Staff/File
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MARIETTA — WellStar Health System was once again granted permission from the state to include an outpatient surgery center in its plans for a 205,000-square-foot, $80 million health park in east Cobb when an appeal filed by Northside Hospital was denied by the state on Monday.

“This is a milestone decision for this project and, more importantly, the residents of east Cobb,” WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster said. “In an August 2010 consumer survey, area residents indicated a strong desire for the WellStar East Cobb Health Park. Any further appeals by our competitor may needlessly delay this much-needed and sought-after outpatient service.”

Bowermaster said Northside could once again appeal the decision, but this time it would be through the court system rather than the Department of Community Health, as was the case in this appeal.

Russ Davis, spokesman for Northside Hospital, declined to comment Monday, saying they “just received word about the decision.”

Bowermaster said the health system is still working with nearby residents and business owners to finalize the design of the health park, but current plans for the 205,000-square-foot building call for four stories of space, one of which will be underground, and approximately 950 parking spaces. To put the size in perspective, the health park will be about 60,000 square feet larger than a typical Home Depot store and about 50,000 square feet smaller than a typical Walmart Supercenter. It will also be about three times bigger than the three-story, 70,000-square-foot Acworth Health Park that WellStar Health System officials broke ground on Oct. 17.

The ambulatory surgery center will be about 20,000 square feet — or 10 percent — of the facility, to be located at the corner of Roswell and Providence roads.

WellStar submitted the first certificate of need application to the state in May 2010. Officials met two months later in July, and Bowermaster said the application was opposed by Northside Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, North Fulton Regional Hospital and some smaller, independent outpatient surgery centers.

On Sept. 20, 2010, the CON was approved by the state and at that point, Northside was the only institution to follow through with an appeal, Bowermaster said. The appeal hearing was conducted Aug. 8 through Aug. 11, and Ellwood F. Oakley, III, an administrative law judge appointed by the state to hear the case, reaffirmed the original approval on Monday.

Bowermaster said WellStar officials still have not yet decided if they will go through the normal zoning process with the county Board of Commissioners or through the Hospital Authority — a decision many nearby residents have waited for closely. If WellStar goes through the Hospital Authority, it avoids measures such as commission stipulations and resident input that are allowed through the zoning process.

The health system plans to break ground on the facility late spring or early summer 2012 and begin seeing patients in late fall or early winter 2013, Bowermaster said.

“With this project now approved multiple times — by the DCH and now by a hearing officer — WellStar is excited to be moving forward,” Bowermaster said.

The attorneys for the appeals process include Armando Bassaratte of Atlanta law firm Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs, representing WellStar; Kathy Butler Polvino of Atlanta law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, representing Northside; and Alex Sponseller, representing the DCH.

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Follow Katy Ruth Camp on Twitter at twitter.com/KatyRuthC.
Comments
(3)
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To The Facts Are...
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December 15, 2011
There is a major difference in your comparison.

Wellstar is not subject to normal zoning conditions, nor is it open to publicly elected officials input. Ask Bob Ott what he can do, or how he can participate- and he will say he has no standing.

With WalMart, or a car dealership or any other commercial enterprise, people (in West or East Cobb) get a say. Not so with Wellstar.

And then they will try to get public funds to support the project. Again without any voter or public input. That is illegal and immoral.

So your "Facts" are misplaced.

the facts are
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October 27, 2011
Why is it so incredulous for WellStar to 'drop a Super WalMart onto a residential neighborhood?' This happened in northwest Cobb in 2007. In fact, it wasn't just a residential neighborhood, but a rural residential neighborhood with WellStar building adjacent to Lake Allatoona, Cobb County's secondary water supply. Where was the outcry from Cobb residents, especially east Cobb, when the same thing was happening in northwest Cobb?

Will not stand
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October 26, 2011
Allowing a monstrosity like this to be justified by only 10% of the project is an abuse of the CON process. We need to look into the financial records of Mr. Oakley!

All they are doing is taking 5 rooms already located on Windy Hill and moving them to East Cobb new rooms...

Does anybody really need that??? Enough to drop a Super WalMart onto a residential neighborhood? And without any zoning responsibility?
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