Providence Health & Services can move forward on a plan to redevelop its chemical dependency center on College Street into a primary care medical clinic after Lacey City Council unanimously approved permits for the project Thursday night.
Approved were conditional use and Class 4 forest practices permits, which will allow Providence to remove 34,000 board feet of timber for an expanded parking area to serve the clinic at 4800 College St. SE.
There was no discussion about the details of the actual clinic, but there was plenty of discussion about trees, following associate planner Sarah Schelling’s presentation about Providence’s proposal.
Mayor Andy Ryder led the questioning about trees, pointing out there has been much public outcry about tree removal in the area. Among those raising the issue is resident Rob Kavanaugh, who complained in June about trees removed from a lot in the Lacey Corporate Center, which curls between College Street and Yelm Highway.
“I just want to make sure our bases are covered because I guarantee we’re going to hear about it,” said Ryder about tree removal on the Providence site.
The 9.5-acre site is surrounded by stands of trees to the north, east and south that will remain intact, Schelling said. Most of the tree removal will occur in the southwest part of the redevelopment site.
“Providence is working with the forester to incorporate as many trees in the parking area as they can,” Schelling told the council.
As part of the conditional use permit process, the proposed redevelopment project had to go before the hearings examiner, who set some conditions for approval, including that a minimum of 83 trees must either be planted or retained on the site.
Schelling said there will be more than 83 trees.
Councilman Jason Hearn said he is satisfied with Providence’s approach to the redevelopment of the site, comparing it to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
“Look at the main property,” he said. “That is a tree property.”
Ryder bemoaned the loss of the chemical dependency center, but Providence has a plan to continue those services at a site to be determined, Providence spokesman Angela Maki told The Olympian last month.
The new clinic is expected to open in September 2016, Maki said.
The number of primary care clinics is on the rise because the Affordable Care Act gave more people access to health care.
Providence Medical Group opened the first phase of its Providence Medical Group West Olympia clinic in July, occupying half of a converted Office Depot building. UW Medicine is set to open its first neighborhood clinic in South Sound in January.