Creve Coeur's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted Monday to oppose a proposal that would have allowed areas zoned "planned office" to house "Post-Discharge Surgical Recovery Clinics," after hearing from hospital interests who said the move would be the equivalent of a code workaround for someone who wanted to bring a hospital to Creve Couer without calling it one.
Also at issue is that the State of Missouri doesn't yet legally recognize what a "Post-Discharge Surgical Recovery Clinic is.
The request came from property owners at 450 North New Ballas, who say they are trying to make it more marketable in an effort to fill space there that has been vacant in some areas for as long as seven years.
Representatives for the property said several times Monday that their intention was not to turn the site into a hospital and that they have no specific project or tenant in mind.
Representatives from BJC, the Missouri Hospital Association and SSM Health Care either testified Monday or submitted letters to city leaders voicing their objection.
Commissioner Gary Eberhardt noted that the request wasn't asking the city to decide if the use constitutes a hospital, and therefore the state regulation that would come with such a facility, but that it was "patently obvious that it is."
"I think we're on the cutting edge of medical law," said Commissioner Ken Howard, who then openly asked, "what are we trying to approve?"
Besides the legal definition of a hospital, Howard cited his own concerns with the usage slipping into a kind of development for which nearby residents aren't prepared. That was one reason why city staff modified the original request to make the proposed use a conditional one, meaning the city would still have the ability to regulate a facility's traffic, parking, lighting and other impacts.
In the end, Commission members decided there were too many questions about the propoal, on top of questions raised by a similar proposal which was passed by the city of Chesterfield, apart from the lack of clarity at the state level regarding how to define a hospital.
The recommendation against the text amendment now goes before the Creve Coeur City Council. Property owners may also decide to pull their request.