After nearly three hours of discussion, the Pinehurst Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday unanimously recommended approval of plans for FirstHealth’s proposed cancer center on Page Road.
The regional healthcare provider is asking the village to rezone a 6.32 acre site across from its main campus and to approve a site plan for the 120,000-square-foot, four-story center and an adjoining four level parking deck with 400 spaces.
The village will have to waive a number of its zoning requirements to accommodate the facility on that site: the 75-foot maximum building height, the 15-acre minimum lot size, the rear setback and allowing the parking deck to front on Page Road.
As a result of the discussions during the meeting, FirstHealth officials agreed to a number of concessions to ease some concerns about the project. Those include making the facade of the parking deck facing Page Road look more like the adjoining cancer center as much as possible, adding a 10-foot landscape buffer with the adjoining property behind the facility and dropping a condition that solar panels on top of the parking not have to be screened.
In addition, the board included additional conditions that a sight distance study be done where the drive comes out on Aviemore Drive and having a traffic impact analysis done before the final site plan is approved. That will dictate if any improvements, such as turn lanes, will be needed on Page Road.
Some of the concerns among board members, as well as some adjoining property owners at a required neighborhood meeting in July, dealt with the size of the facilities and the appearance.
“I think it is a great idea,” board member Paul Roberts said of the project. “It is a lot of building on a little space.”
Roberts said given the smaller site, the only other option to reduce the building footprint would be to add another level or having a level below ground.
“Going down, the cost goes up,” board member David Kelley injected.
Micheal Satterfield, an architect with McCulloch England Associates, agreed.
“When you go down, you are spending your money instead of on care, on burying the parking,” he said.
Roberts and board Chairman Leo Santowasso expressed concerns about the solar panels on top of the parking not being screened in some way.
“It certainly isn’t Pinehurst,” Santowasso said of the appearance, adding he would make screening them a condition of approval.
In response to a question from Santowasso, Satterfield said construction would take 18 to 24 months and that they hope to have the center completed by November 2022. He said the parking deck would be built first.
Several board members expressed concerns about the number of requirements the village will have to waive. But Planning Director Darryn Burich said a number of them — including allowing buildings to be up to six stories in the Hospital Zoning District — are “consistent” with what is being proposed in the village’s new comprehensive long-range plan, which is nearing completion.
“But it is not adopted yet,” Roberts said. “We’re making assumptions.”
Board member Cyndie Burnett said she would like to see an improvement in the appearance of the parking deck visible from Page Road. She said she favors the plans.
“I think this is a great project,” she said. “I just want to make sure it folds into the comprehensive plan and the look of Pinehurst. … I like doing something on the Page Road side.”
Board member Joel Shriberg added, “Whatever you can see from the road needs to look like the cancer center.”
Kelley said that could be a challenge.
“It is hard not to look like a parking deck,” he said. “I like the building. It integrates with what is there. It doesn’t stick out.”
But board member Jeramy Hooper said that with all of the variances the village would have to grant, he said improving the facade of the parking deck “will soften the blow” from an appearance standpoint.
“It would make me more comfortable with approving all of the variances,” he said.
Village Senior Planner Alex Cameron also said the village should try to address the concerns raised by Frank Maser during the neighborhood meeting about the large structure overpowering his adjoining building, given the proposed 25-foot reduction to the rear setback.
Kelley said that could be done with additional landscaping, which led to the board’s decision to include requiring a 10-foot buffer as a condition for approval.
No one from the public spoke during the hearing. After closing the hearing, the board had to reopen it to allow FirstHealth officials to agree to the additional conditions it proposed, which they did.
The board’s recommendation for approval with the 12 conditions goes to the Village Council, which will hold its own public hearing before taking final action.
Some of the conditions sought by FirstHealth include allowing a maximum building height of 100 feet, allowing the parking deck to be four levels instead of the maximum of three under the zoning ordinance, a 25-foot reduction in the rear setback
FirstHealth is currently using some of the property on Page Road for two parking lots. One lot with 96 spaces is at the corner of Page Road North and Page Drive, and the other with 72 spaces is on Page Road North across from the Reid Heart Center. It is accessed from Aviemore Drive, according to information included with the application.
The lot across from the Reid Heart Center is on the site of a former medical clinic building on Page Road that FirstHealth tore down late last year for additional parking.
The cancer center would face Page road North, with the parking deck to north, according to information from LKC with the application. They would be connected by a covered walkway. There would also be additional ground level parking in front and to the side of the center, and at the eastern portion connecting to Aviemore Drive.
The main entrance would be on Page Road North, with a single lane coming and two lanes going out, according to the application. It would lead to the parking deck and will also connect to the drop-off at the main entrance.
Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or email@example.com