TOWN AND COUNTRY • BJC HealthCare won approval Monday night to expand its Children’s Hospital services into West County with a pediatric medical office building and outpatient center at Mason Road and Highway 40 (Interstate 64).
Residents opposed to the office building proposal made a last-ditch effort to defeat it, while several others spoke in favor. In the end, the Town and Country Board of Alderman voted 7-1 on four bills to approve the project and rezone the land.
The 15.8-acre property was once used by the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Alderman Jon Benigas, whose constituents are in the affected Ward 4, voted no.
“Just because a major corporation buys property and decides it has a better use doesn’t mean we have to buy into that,” he said.
Aldermen Skip Mange said the land had been used for an office building ever since it was developed. “To me, it’s not an acceptable site for residential development,” he said.
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Mange said cities “cannot be arbitrary and capricious in turning down zonings.”
The project will provide a West County presence for St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Patients will receive care — including surgeries — for illnesses such as asthma and cancer.
After the meeting, June Fowler, vice president of corporate & public communications for BJC HealthCare, said: “We appreciate the very thorough and comprehensive process taken by the city.
“We respect the positions of all residents and we look forward to proving to them that they will be very pleased with the development of this property.”
Opponents had argued the project would worsen traffic congestion, lower property values and lead to more commercial development without providing additional tax revenues.
Barbara Hughes, an opponent, said there was “no public need” for the services because of several other nearby hospitals.
On the other side, at Monday night’s meeting and one two weeks ago, several residents praised the convenience it would offer West County residents plus “a spectacular level of care.”
At the last meeting, Stephanie Schmidt, a resident, said that the children’s hospital had offered world-class care to her toddler with brain cancer.
“Having a facility in our neighborhood is such a positive, “ she said. “I only wish it was here when we needed it.”
St. Louis Children’s Hospital President Joan Magruder had told the aldermen: “Providing these outpatient services...in a close, convenient and exclusively child-centered outpatient facility will help ease some if the stresses these children and families face.”