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Snellville gives green light to Eastside Campus Village

SNELLVILLE - By unanimous vote at Monday night's city council meeting, Snellville officials gave the green light to Eastside Campus Village LLC to begin development. The project, a continuous care retirement campus to be situated on about 44.6 acres along the north side of Tree Lane and adjacent to Emory Eastside Medical Center, will include more than 700 residential units as well as medical office buildings.

The plans for the campus have been in the works for about two years, but there are several issues to be ironed out before all the involved parties are happy, particularly the hospital. Emory Eastside representatives voiced concern about the competition medical office buildings will bring to the hospital.

Michele Battle and Jennifer Malinovsky, both attorneys representing the hospital, said the development company was not being cooperative with the hospital in planning the massive retirement campus. Specifically, Malinovsky asked Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and council members to specifically exclude ambulatory surgery centers, diagnostic imaging facilities, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers and rehabilitation centers.

"We in no way oppose free enterprise," Battle said. The hospital's objection to these services is that Emory Eastside Medical Center is required to provide these services to indigent patients, whereas medical offices are not. This, according to hospital representatives, presents unfair competition to the hospital.

Lee Tucker, who represented Eastside Campus Village, argued the council could not impose such use restrictions on the property, adding that the hospital had the chance to buy the property in question but chose not to do so.

City residents also voiced opposition to the planned development, citing the added traffic burden as a concern. Tom Flynn cited a study that found that an additional 407 daily trips on the surrounding roads would result from the development.

"There are a lot of hurdles to get over before any development takes place on this property," said Oberholtzer, but the vote was unanimous to rezone the property to accommodate the retirement campus. No restrictions were made on the types of medical services to be offered in the new medical offices, except for the exclusion of another hospital or acute care facility.

Hospital representatives said they were disappointed with the outcome but hoped for the best long-term relationship between the developer and the medical center.

City enters contract

Oberholtzer announced Monday that the city has entered into a contract to purchase two parcels of land at Wisteria Drive and Clower Street. Two public safety buildings will be built on the land, filling one of the needs of the city's police department.