Andersen field development could bring traffic problems

Andy Andersen, owner of a 7.8-acre pasture bordering Mountain Street, wants to donate that land to Carson-Tahoe Hospital as part of his legacy.

But a meeting this week between hospital representatives and neighbors brought up serious questions concerning the price residents would be paying for Andersen's philanthropy.

The house was full and tempers occasionally flared in the first of a series of meetings between Carson-Tahoe Hospital representative George Szabo, engineer Mark Palmer and neighbors surrounding the hospital.

A land planning consultant, Szabo has been retained by Carson-Tahoe Hospital to gather comments from people that might be affected by the project.

For years the pasture, bordered by homes on three sides, has afforded a peaceful view of the Sierra Nevada as well as the wildlife that frequents the area.

The hospital proposes a 50-foot buffer permanently deeded to open space between the existing houses, a 100,000-square-foot two-story medical building, and the required 450 to 500 parking spaces needed to accomodate a building of that size per Carson City's municipal code.

Some were satisfied with the buffer, but traffic posed a problem. Traffic on Mountain Street could more than double, increasing traffic on surrounding roads such as Winnie Lane, Fleishmann Way and Washington Street. Fritsch Elementary School could also be affected.

A medical or dental building would generate about 4,500 trips per day, or 45 trips per 1,000 square feet of space on a week day, according to figures from the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Mountain Street presently carries 3,000 to 3,700 vehicles, so the addition of a 100,000 square-foot building would more than double the present traffic load, according to Harvey Brotzman, senior engineer for the Regional Transportation Commission.

This type of development would require a lengthy process, including master plan amendment and public hearings.

While Szabo and Palmer openly discussed possibilities for development of the property, many details and concerns about the effect on surrounding areas were left open. Residents presented a tangle of issues, including loss of property values, zoning changes, water tables and drainage.

One resident suggested a zoning change for the area to mitigate the problem of selling their homes should traffic double.

Szabo said a contractual zoning option could provide a level of confidence as to how the land could be developed. Some residents were receptive to the idea but others were skeptical.

"I'm not trying to be mean-spirited," resident Pat Anderson said. "But I'd be willing to bet about 70 percent of this audience doesn't really trust the hospital."

One resident noted the hospital has previously embarked on financial ventures that turned out to be less than satisfactory. He wondered what would happen if this turns out to be one of those.

Another possibility: an affiliating entity could decide the designated use of the building is not feasible, leading to a change in the building's use.

"We can't promise what future partnerships with outside entities will do," Szabo said, noting that whatever happens here could be irrelevant without set contracts and covenants.

Many residents asked why the hospital felt it needed the parcel, wondering whether the hospital could meet its expansion needs within the superblock.

"It seems that land is the hospital's drug of choice," Pat Anderson said. "Once it's been put in front of them, it's like they can't say no."

A second meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Brewery Arts Center.


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