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Council votes to change zoning on Holy Trinity property

Opens door for hospital to move forward with plan to expand

GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center could break ground on a new medical office building by spring of 2014 thanks to a zoning change Town Council voted Wednesday night.

Chuck Gijanto, president of BFMC, said with the zone change, the deal is done for the hospital to buy the former Holy Trinity School property on North and Beacon streets.

According to hospital spokeswoman Amy Swisher, the hospital has agreed to buy the land where the former school, convent, helicopter landing pad, and the school’s parking lot are located.

The land where Blessed Sacrament Church and Greenfield Middle School are located will not be part of the purchase.

Gijanto said all that is left is for the hospital and Catholic Diocese of Springfield to sign the papers after the zoning change is filed with the town.

He told councilors Wednesday night that there is a deed restriction on the property concerning fertility issues, including abortions, fertility treatments and birth control, as per the diocese, but the hospital said it has worked out the details with the church.

The council, which said it is not within its purview to inject its members’ individual beliefs in its decision to grant the zoning change, did question what will happen if the hospital ever decides to sell the property. Councilors wondered whether the deed restriction would be placed on future owners.

Gijanto said the deed restriction would only be for the medical office building, not any of the hospital’s other facilities.

“We have lots of plans, but nothing is finalized yet because we need the zone change to move forward,” Gijanto told the council. “What I can tell you is that we plan to expand the hospital and its services.”

Gijanto said with the zone change from urban residential to health will allow the hospital to construct a building that will house doctors affiliated with BFMC and, at the same time, allow it to move ahead with plans to replace the hospital’s current operating rooms with a new surgical suite.

He said the hospital did not want to move forward with its plans for a new surgical suite until it knew it had space to house doctors it hopes to entice with its new facilities.

Gijanto said the hospital will eventually hire new surgeons, including two urologists, at least one orthopedic surgeon and a gastroenterologist. He said the hospital would also like to bring ear, nose and throat specialists to Greenfield, as well as plastic surgeons.

The zone change needed a two-thirds vote of the full council, which means nine of the 13 councilors needed to vote “yes.”

Precinct 6 Councilor Hillary Hoffman and Precinct 7 Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud abstained and At-large Councilor Mark Maloni and Precinct 8 Councilor Karen Shapiro Miller did not attend, which forced President Mark Wisnewski to vote. His “yes” vote brought it to the nine votes needed for the change.

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