Weatherford Democrat

April 12, 2013

Willow Park council OKs medical complex plans

Approval follows discussions questioning Board of Adjustments’ action


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



WILLOW PARK – After about an hour of discussion by council members Tuesday night, including the topic of whether to sue the city’s Board of Adjustments in district court, the Willow Park City Council voted to approve a site plan for an emergency room and medical office building proposed by Texas Health Resources.

The medical facility, which THR told the city last year they hope to grow and use as a hospital one day, is planned for the northwest corner of north Interstate 20 service road and Crown Pointe Road.

Representatives of the company told the city Tuesday that they plan build a free-standing emergency department along with a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building for approximately 15 physician offices.

Several council members asked questions regarding the site plan application.

Council member Amy Podany noted council members had received more information and comments from the staff in the past about what had been addressed during the site plan application process and said she would like to start getting more information.

Council member Bernard Suchocki said he believed the new forms for the site plan application process were a start but he wanted to see everybody, from the planning and zoning commission, to engineering and legal, involved.

Mayor Richard Neverdousky advised the council discuss the process at an upcoming workshop.

A variance for a three-story building granted by the city’s board of adjustments late last month was also a point of contention for at least one council member.

Suchocki indicated he had issues with the site plans including a three-story building.

City Fire Marshal Brent Sauble told the council that he had been working hand-in-hand with the engineer and architects all the way through the planning and zoning and board of adjustments process.

They have different regulations for hospitals as opposed to residential or everything commercial buildings, Sauble said.

“We approved everything and everything looks good,” Sauble told the council.

Addressing the concerns about having a three-story building in Willow Park, Sauble said no ladder can reach the top of major hospitals in Fort Worth such as JPS or Harris. 

Suchocki said he wondered if the board of adjustments had enough information to make the right decision, and he was still concerned about not having a ladder truck for a third story.

Suchocki said he doubted the board of adjustments was sitting legally and had jurisdiction.

“The problem I have with this is the way it was done,” Suchocki said. “I don’t know. It bothers me. It was going to be two stories and all at once it was three stories and goes through the board of adjustments. And I have questions as to whether or not what they did was jurisdictional.”

However, an account in the Democrat last November indicates council members were told in a public meeting discussing the preliminary site plan that the company intended to build a two- to three-story office building.

The city’s attorney advised the only way to appeal the board of adjustments’ decision was to sue the board in district court, City Administrator Matt Shaffstall said. 

After approximately 20 minutes of discussion in executive session, the council returned to open session and voted unanimously to follow the planning and zoning commission’s recommendation to approve the site plan.

Despite an open records request made to the city Friday, documents provided to the council regarding the site plan were not provided to the Democrat by deadline Wednesday.

Asked when construction was expected to begin, Wendell Watson, THR public relations director, said THR had not decided what is going to go in there exactly or when and plans have not been approved by the THR board.



Comprehensive plan

The council also approved some portions of a contract with Freese & Nichols to complete a tailored comprehensive plan for the city.

A representative of the firm, Daniel Harrison, told the council that they worked with the city’s planning and zoning commission and the city administrator to define the scope of the plan.

The approximately $74,000 project has three phases and includes a strategic plan to define the city’s vision and mission statement, a mapping that would address city limits and ETJ issues as well as a comprehensive plan to help as the city grows, according to Harrison.

The council and planning and zoning commission chair David Fritz also discussed a zoning map that the city spent money on the past but had not had completed.

City administrator Matt Shaffstall said he would look into how much it would cost the original engineering firm to complete the zoning map, as well.