PBMC Health is proposing a new medical building in a portion of the parking lot of the Wal-Mart and Bob’s Discount Furniture store on Route 58.
The hospital has filed a preliminary site plan application that calls for a 3,500-square foot building for hospital use in the corner of the parking lot in front of Bob’s.
The building would have 20 hospital beds, according to the application, which also calls for a future expansion of the building by another 1,945 square feet.
Although no one from the hospital was at Thursday’s Planning Board meeting, PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said in a phone interview afterward that “beds” may be an old fashioned way of describing it.
“We will have multiple treatment spaces to provide services to patients on an outpatient basis,” he said. “It will not be an overnight facility like we have on our main campus [on Roanoke Avenue].”
The Riverhead Town Planning Board briefly discussed the proposal at its meeting on Thursday and scheduled a public hearing on the application for its Dec. 18 meeting, which starts at 3 p.m.
“It’s an annex to a hospital,” town planning director Rick Hanley said at the meeting. “Apparently they are inundated with individuals using the emergency room as primary care and they are trying to divert that traffic to here.”
Mr. Mitchell agreed with that explanation and said they hope to have the new building complete by Memorial Day because they will need more space once summer arrives.
“The best way to describe this is that it will be a smaller version of what we’ve done at our Feil Campus in Manorville,” he said, referring to the 25,000-square foot campus of Route 111.
That facility is slated to expand to 45,000-square feet, he said, with four buildings and will provide a variety of medical services.
“We believe this is the future of medicine, and it’s happening all over the country,” Mr. Mitchell said, referring to smaller, outpatient facilities that are spread throughout various locations instead of just one hospital. PBMC plans to add more of those types of facilities locally in the future, he said, adding the hospital can’t expand at its main campus due to the property’s limited parking.
Mr. Hanley said that while a hospital is a permitted use in any zone in Riverhead Town’s code, this proposal still needs to acquire additional development rights to meet the requested lot coverage.
The application for this shopping center, which features a Wal-Mart store and is called Gateway Plaza, required 41 development rights, which are transferred off of farmland that the town wants to preserve and onto so-called “receiving areas” where additional development is deemed appropriate, in order to allow those projects to be bigger than normally permitted by zoning. To put any more development on this lot requires additional credits, Mr. Hanley said.
Planning Board members raised some concerns, which they said they will bring up at the hearing.
Planning Board member Ed Densieski questioned why the hospital needed to build a new building when a portion of the building that houses Bob’s is still vacant.
Planning Board member Stan Carey said: “I’m not so convinced that this location is appropriate for this use, but this is only for a public hearing, so I’ll ask the questions at the hearing.”
Planning Board member Lyle Wells said: “I would echo your concerns, too. Especially at that junction. The intersection is poorly planned in regards to traffic flow as it is now.”
To add an emergency situation would make it worse, he said.