POTSDAM — The village Board of Trustees passed a local law Monday rezoning some properties on Grove, Cottage and Waverly streets to facilitate expansion of Canton-Potsdam Hospital.
The unanimous decision comes after a contentious public hearing two weeks ago, when members of the community expressed concern that the rezoning request would lessen the neighborhood feel of Waverly Street. Trustee Maggie M. McKenna was absent from Monday’s meeting and did not vote.
“I’ve weighed very carefully the proposal we received from the hospital and the feedback we’ve received from the community, and I’ve thought long and deep about this,” Trustee Alexandra M. Jacobs-Wilke said.
She said the board must ask: “What does the future of our community look like?” and “Where do we think growth is appropriate?”
The village Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board have both considered the rezone. Mrs. Jacobs-Wilke said she agrees with the Planning Board’s decision that the rezone “would be in the interest of the community.”
She added that she sees a need — for the health of the community — to attract medical specialists to the area.
“It’s an investment in the lives of our community, and I think it’s appropriate to happen in this area,” she said.
Trustee Abigail D. Lee said CPH, which is governed by St. Lawrence Health, “is an integral part” of Potsdam.
“I think we have to trust that the hospital will do the right thing for Waverly,” Ms. Lee said. “We all understand what an economic engine it is in the village.”
Mayor Reinhold “Ron” J. Tischler was supportive of the hospital’s proposed expansion.
“I think what we need to do is not dwell on what has happened in the past, or what the past is, we need to look forward to the future,” Mr. Tischler said. “I think this expansion will have a huge positive impact not only on the village of Potsdam but the township of Potsdam, and even the county. It’s going to really make CPH a destination.”
The hospital plans to build a new inpatient bed tower and expand its emergency services, which will require a roughly 60,000-square-foot expansion.
The hospital requested the village board change the zone designations for existing hospital-owned properties on Grove, Cottage and Waverly streets from H2 to H1 zones. The local law also changes the zone designation for four Waverly Street residential properties from R2 to H1.
As amends for the bed tower’s encroachments into the village, the hospital is working with an architecture firm out of Rochester to help beautify the affected area.