Nov 28, 2012 7:00 PM by Danielle Lerner and Ian Cross
GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. - Green Valley is another step closer to getting its own hospital.
Tucson Medical Center wants to build a 32-bed facility in the Canoa Ranch area, just off Interstate 19. Right now the closest hospitals are about a half hour away, in Tucson.
Today, the Pima County Planning Commission unanimously approved zoning changes that would allow the hospital project to move forward.
The Planning Commission spent more than two hours on the controversial decision. Several people spoke for and against the proposed project, and while everyone agrees Green Valley does need a hospital, it is the building's size, height and location that's generating the controversy.
"The speed at which this is occurring is mind-boggling to us at The Springs," said Green Valley resident Steve Gilbert.
Tubac resident Judi Monday implored the commission: "Please don't say no because we don't have all the answers today. We're going to get the answers."
Both sides shared their thoughts Wednesday before the planning commission gave the okay to the zoning changes, which allow the facility to be up to 50 feet tall and nearly 140,000 square feet.
It's now recommending the Board of Supervisors do the same.
The project developer and architect also spoke, promising to work with the community and comply with county codes.
Still, opponents say the increase in size will tie up traffic, devalue the area, and create light pollution.
But supporters say the zoning changes are worth it, since a closer hospital could save a life.
"I understand all of you here are involved, but you don't live there, I do," said Green Valley resident Pam Weston.
"For 40 minutes driving up there, I did not know if my husband was alive or dead," said Catherine Ross, another resident. "I'm sure there are many, many people in Green Valley that have gone through this."
The Pima County Board of Supervisors has the final say on this and they'll talk about it during their next meeting on December 18. There is still a long way to go in this process, but if everything goes according to plan, that new hospital could open by early 2014.