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>Concerned Residents of Ridgewood : the Issues with "Valley Renewal"

Valley Hospital is proposing a $750 million, ten-year expansion project. The following information is presented to inform you of some of the aspects of this proposed project, and the impact they will have on your life and our Village.

Current Status: Valley has managed to convince the Ridgewood Planning Board to vote 6/1 in favor of changing the Village Master Plan to allow them to proceed to the next stage, where Ordinance approval from the Council is required. Significant action is required to stop this! Consider the issues:
1.           Blank Check – The unprecedented freedom of development that Valley Hospital has proposed, in changes to the Village Master Plan, would provide them with a “blank check” to develop their site in any manner in which they choose.  This privileged status should not be granted to any property owner in the Village.

2.           Space Deficiency – Valley estimates that 30 acres are needed to create a single campus for all its activities.  They are trying to add over 500,000 square feet of development to the existing 15.2 acre site – over 200% more buildings.  The magnitude of the deficit is so great that this site will not be able to absorb this additional square footage without changing the character of the entire east side of Ridgewood.

3.           Utilization of the Facility – If approved, Valley would be free to use the space as they see fit, without requiring future Village approvals.  The nature of health care has evolved significantly in the time since Valley’s last major expansion. Indeed, short stays and the frequent turnover of beds at Valley are a major contributing factor in the serious traffic problems which have developed on local streets. Our neighborhoods have had to bear the brunt of this evolution and its impact upon quality of life, without complaint, but there does come a time when we must say “STOP!”

4.           Parking – Consistent with the change in Use, Valley acknowledges that there is also a significant parking deficit (400 spaces) at the site as it is used today. This is an indication of how differently the site is used today from what was previously reviewed in an approval process.

5.           Emergency Department – Since the Emergency Department expansion in 2001, emergency room visits are up over 25% from the projected volumes conveyed in that application.   These volumes (62,000 vs 49,000) represent ER visits prior to the Pascack Valley-related volume increases.

6.           Density – The Valley proposal is to add 200% more floor area which is against the precedent set in 1996. At that time Valley had to remove a 21,000 square foot building (Kraft Building) in order for the Zoning Board of Adjustment to approve the 1996 expansion, due to the “bulk” that would be added to the site as part of that project.

7.           Sympathetic Zoning – Planning professionals who have been consulted, have warned that if Valley is given leeway to develop to these standards in the H-zone, they will form a new standard of what’s acceptable in Ridgewood, and could undermine efforts to contain large developments in other zones of the Village.

8.           Land Use Law – Valley has not presented any arguments based on land use to support its case to change Ridgewood’s zoning.  The towns cited by Valley as comparable are not at all similar to Ridgewood.  The hospitals in these towns are not adjacent to a middle school nor are they one block from a grammar school.  Additionally, those town’s residential and commercial standards have not been compared to Ridgewood’s to show that the Ridgewood hospital zone is more restrictive on a relative basis.

9.           Healthcare – Valley Hospital is a fine health-care facility and we are grateful for their presence.  Unfortunately, they are now trying to use the societal benefits they provide as a tool to get corporate benefits no other land owner in Ridgewood would even consider possible.  What if Merck or Johnson and Johnson wanted to build a plant on that site that would produce life saving drugs with the same societal benefits and environmental impacts as the hospital?  Would we be having this conversation?

10.     Dialogue – Valley has pursued this effort as an “all or nothing” battle, and they refuse to have a serious dialogue about the issues or confront any group which may be opposed to their expansion plan. This implies an attitude of insensitivity and arrogance towards the residents, and accentuates their plan of dealing solely with governing officials.

11.     It’s Our Money – All of the money that Valley is spending on their “Renewal” campaign comes from us, the well-insured, paying patients who utilize the hospital.  We pay substantial fees to use their facilities and we are grateful for their quality care and close proximity, but they are well-compensated for the care they provide us.  What about the burden that their presence puts on the Village of Ridgewood?  Are we adequately compensated for that?

The “Renewal” is Really an Expansion

Valley Hospital calls their proposal a “Renewal” because the number of registered beds will only be increased by 3. However, the Valley proposal is really an expansion because:
The total floor space will increase significantly (200%)
The total building height will increase from 5 stories to the equivalent of 7 under the existing code and totaling 94 feet high (70 ft of buildings + 24 ft of rooftop mechanicals)
The number of parking spaces will be increased to 2,000 spaces
There will be more buildings and less open space
Things to Consider
Impact on Ben Franklin Middle School during the estimated 6.8 years of construction just for Phase One. There are more Phases planned. Valley has stated on the record that it “reserves the right” to continue expanding in the future
Increased traffic especially of heavy construction vehicles on the surrounding streets
Effect on children traveling to and from BF, Travell and RHS
Concrete and asbestos dust and other emissions – especially diesel exhaust
If you live in Ridgewood, your quality of life will be affected by the Hospital’s plans.

If you are concerned about the negative impact the Valley Hospital expansion will have on your life and on the Village of Ridgewood, PLEASE let your council people know, attend the meetings, and join us, the Concerned Residents of Ridgewood.  Register

We welcome donations to help the fight!

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