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Joplin City Council approves rezoning for St. John's site

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Last edited 1:30 p.m., Nov. 10, 2011

The Joplin City Council on Nov. 7 approved the rezoning of land on a 116-acre site that is slated to become the new home of St. John's Regional Medical Center.

St. John's and Mercy Health officials were on hand during council meeting to detail their plans for the site, which runs along the southern side of U.S. Interstate 44 to the east of Hearnes Boulevard.

Dick Weber, chairman of the St. John's board of directors, pointed to the importance the creation of the roughly $540 million 800,000-square-foot facility would play in Joplin's rebuilding process.

"It's a huge part of a changing community," Weber said. "And we are really proud to be a part of that."

Gary Pulsipher, St. John's president and CEO, detailed Mercy's nearly $1 billion investment in rebuilding efforts, while Mercy attorney Randell Wallace of Springfield-based Lathrop & Gage LLP and principal architect Greg Garner of St. Louis-based Archimages Inc. addressed the land acquisition process and overall design of the facility, respectively.

The plans call for a multiunit facility featuring an eight-story diagnostic hospital and a five-story clinical building. Garner noted the circular, navigable design of the campus roadways supported "way-finding" - a feature in complex path designs that make them easy to navigate and understand.

Though both Garner and Wallace stressed Mercy's goal to be "good neighbors" - noting St. John's did not request the city to use imminent domain to acquire property and took part in citizen town halls to get feedback from residents of Leawood, the surrounding community - their earnestness did not prevent opposition to the plan.

Denis Desmond, a resident of Leawood and chairman of its board, voiced concerns about noise concerns from helicopters and emergency vehicles, the possible decrease in adjoining residential property values, wear and tear on the roads due to increased traffic and an overall loss of the aesthetic of the neighborhood.

"Leawood will no longer be a quiet, residential neighborhood," he said.

The opposition was not enough to sway the council's decision, however. Eight council members unanimously voted to pass the rezoning, while one member was absent.[[In-content Ad]]

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