Building height, traffic, buffers, lighting.
The obstacles, which came out of the Lake Forest Plan Commission meeting in March over the proposed master plan to expand the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital campus, were still intact after Tuesday night's revisit.
- See related story: Plan Commission Asks For More Time on Proposed New Hospital
However, the commission could still vote on a master plan draft at its next meeting May 9.
"It is important, there is momentum and we need to move this project forward," said Cathy Czerniak, Lake Forest Community Development director.
Czerniak took a cue from Plan Commission chairman Jack Reisenberg's closing remarks where he indicated that a master plan could be approved without specifics, such as the building's height.
"There are certain things that we can clearly get agreement to – those go into the master plan – everything else that is part of the consideration for the permit is put into next steps," Reisenberg said. "This is perhaps then supported by a time and event schedule. This is what we have to do, this is the responsibility for it, and this is the timeline, so everyone knows when we are going to address those issues."
"This gives you the opportunity to move forward," Reisenberg said to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital President Thomas McAfee. "This gives us and all of the other stakeholders the assurance that all of these other things are going to be given the time and attention that they need."
During the nearly four-hour meeting Tuesday night that included more than an hour of public comment, the idea of a community advisory committee to address the specifics of the plan gained momentum.
"The issues that cannot be included in the master plan are then given to this advisory committee," Reisenberg said. "The responsibility of this group, which I view as a subcommittee, deals with these issues, lives to the sequencing of the time and event schedule and comes back to us with a recommendation."
Reisenberg recommended the five-member advisory committee include a representative from Lake Forest Open Lands.
Czerniak said the Plan Commission does not have the authority to create an advisory committee, and the concept would have to be authorized by the Lake Forest City Council.
"So maybe with this first piece we can move forward with your approval based on numerous conditions and sequencing, so we’re clear on how the different details get worked out, how they come back for review as appropriate," she said.
Before the May 9 meeting, Reisenberg asked hospital officials to look again at lowering the height of the proposed new hospital. McAfee said the building height needs to be 96 feet in order to provide a safe and efficient hospital. He cited an outside peer review panel comprised of eight of Modern Healthcare's top 100-ranked health architects which met since the March meeting to review the building plan. Seven supported the proposed height.
However, Reisenberg wasn't comfortable with 96 feet.
"I was probably OK at 81 feet," Reisenberg said. "We've had building height concerns mentioned by other commission members probably 4 or 5 times tonight. It’s an issue that needs some compromise."
Reisenberg said if hospital officials are unable to return with a proposal at 81 feet, then the height condition would not be part of the master plan and would go to the advisory committee for review.
Other issues that could be left out of the master plan and handled through the advisory committee include:
- traffic proposals for Westmoreland Road at Deerpath, and Waukegan Road and Westmoreland;
- parking structures
Next Up: An in-depth story from Tuesday night's meeting will be posted Thursday morning.