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East End appeal on Bannock St. design upheld: St. Luke’s hospital plan can’t move forward until it’s resolved

A large portion of St. Luke’s Health System’s Boise campus can’t move forward until the debate over what to do with a small plaza along Bannock St. is resolved – and that debate suffered a setback Wednesday night.

As only BoiseDev reported, the City of Boise and St. Luke’s hammered out a compromise for Bannock St. between the main Boise hospital building and Mountain States Tumor Institute.  It is currently closed to traffic – but could eventually open to cars depending on a process hammered out between the city and hospital.

But the East End Neighborhood Association wasn’t satisfied, and appealed an administrative approval of the project.

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And during the public meeting – Boise’s Design Review upheld that appeal.

The bottom line is St. Luke’s cannot build its hospital expansion until this is resolved – because they can’t close Jefferson St. to the north until a deal is in place for Bannock St. – though a hospital spokesperson expresses confidence this can all be resolved before that piece of construction begins. 

“I don’t know why you’d deny the neighborhood association the opportunity to add comment and continue to work with the city to come up with that final answer that everyone would be proud of,” commission member David Rudeen said.  “It defies my logic.”

After some additional discussion, the design review group voted 4-1 to uphold the appeal.

Nearly three hours later, after debate over a commercial trucking terminal wrapped up, commissioner James Marsh swung back to the earlier decision. 

“Based on what was submitted and with staff , the decision was one without… rational basis or in disregard of all the facts and circumstances presented,” Marsh said. “And that there was additional public testimony that had not been considered and that’s our findings for the upholding of the appeal.”

The City and St. Luke’s will now likely go through another round of hearings.

“We felt that the staff report and recommendations reflected the situation but it would be inappropriate to make a comment because now we have a process to go forward with now that that vote has taken place,” City of Boise spokesperson Mike Journee said. “We will be engaging in that.”

St. Luke’s says it feels like the design is a good compromise.

“The current proposed design meets the specifics outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding between St. Luke’s, the City and ACHD,” St Luke’s Health System Public Relations Manager Anita Kissée said. “It’s the direct result of input from several years of public planning sessions and workshops with the City Council and key community stakeholders, including EENA.”

The hospital system says it is weighing what to do next.

“As for what’s next, St. Luke’s will continue to follow the process laid out by the city and is working to better understand potential options moving forward,” she said.

The path forward could include appealing to design review or heading to planning and zoning.  The hospital system could also let the appeal stand – but moving forward with its expansion and master plan wouldn’t be possible.

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