Regardless of whether you believe WellStar Kennestone Hospital’s new ER should go on the triangle between Church and Cherokee, the reality is WellStar is proposing a new 200,000 square foot intensive, commercial project with a multi-story parking deck adjacent to residential neighborhoods. Given this, the City Council has a duty to conduct the same due diligence they would for any other proposed commercial project before moving forward.
At Wednesday night’s Council meeting, more time was spent discussing the impact of five proposed residential homes on the adjacent subdivision than on the impact of this 200,000 square foot expansion and how to mitigate its impact.
If Wal-mart proposed a 200,000 square foot store, with helicopter landings three or four times a week for the corner of Allgood and Scuffle grit, Whitlock Avenue or the triangle, Council would conduct a full analysis of its impact on surrounding residents; including increased traffic, sound pollution, light pollution height impacts, storm water runoff and most likely the aesthetic design. The developers would be required to submit plans and drawings for consideration, not just concepts.
If City Council moves forward and approves the bridge easement without completing their analysis, all hope of mitigating the impact on the community will be lost. Given that WellStar’s land is owned by the Hospital Authority, once the easement is approved, WellStar can do anything it chooses. It could build 700,000 square feet, 20 stories tall and the city would have no recourse.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council members repeatedly stated they hoped WellStar would do the right thing. I don’t recall Marietta ever approving a large development with the hope the applicant would do the right thing. Rather, City Council scrutinizes every minute detail, right down to the placement of shutters on homes, so why not the same evaluation here?
Now is the time to determine the impact of this large expansion, not after the easement is granted. The City Council owes the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods the same due diligence they would for any other project to help mitigate its negative impacts.