According to David Romano, a real estate consultant for the project, the foundation has done as much as it can to respond to objections from the planning commission and neighbors.
“We’ve done a lot and tried to be responsive to the concerns we heard,” Romano said. “We listened to all the input, and we’ve tried to accommodate as many concerns as we can into the new plan.”
The previous development plan for 441 Eaton Ave. was rejected by the Tracy Planning Commission in late March. Sutter officials were scheduled to go before the City Council to appeal the decision May 20, but they withdrew on the day of the meeting.
On July 17, project representatives had a third neighborhood meeting at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.
At the meeting, Romano said that the foundation had reconfigured its plans, adding brickwork and columns to the façade of the proposed Sutter Tracy Care Center to help it blend into the neighborhood and moving the building a total of 49 feet from the residential properties to the east — five feet farther than previously planned.
But the majority of the more than two dozen residents at the meeting still objected to the plans to level the existing two-story, 29,000-square-foot plaza and build a two-story, 45,000-square-foot building on what is now a tree-shaded parking lot.
“This building is not designed for this site,” resident Pete Mitracos, who also serves on the planning commission, said. “We expect you to honor and respect our (city) general plan. At the minimum, it needs to be on the corner (of Bessie and West Eaton avenues).”
Romano said the planners wanted to place the new building on the eastern side of the lot to balance the “operations and functionality of the facility.”
Members of the community were worried about added traffic, among other concerns.
“You will have three times as much medical activity, three times as many doctors and three times as many patients,” said Mary Mitracos, who is married to Pete Mitracos.
“It’s simple math,” area resident Bethany Neal said. “This neighborhood in Tracy made me feel like I was home. I’m heartbroken. I’m concerned with the neighborhood feel.”
Jim Noah said he had lived on Wall Street for more than 50 years and had seen increasing congestion in the area, which is home to two schools, three churches and other businesses.
“You still have traffic that gets worse every day,” he said. “I’m not for it. I will do whatever it takes to stop this project.”
Romano pointed out that the site was zoned for medical businesses and said foundation officials believed it was the right location.
One woman who lives nearby said that she and others feared that the hospital would eventually move to a new site and the center would be abandoned. She said that would leave the neighborhood “holding the bag with this building.”
“We’re not saying, ‘Not in my backyard,’” she said. “We’re saying it doesn’t work in the neighborhood. You’re imposing it on us, and it affects all of us personally.”
A couple of people said they liked the new brick façade of the building, but they still felt the larger medical center did not belong there.
Romano said that Sutter officials expected to present their plans to the city soon and would schedule a hearing before the City Council sometime in September.
After the meeting, Freddie Berna, a resident of the neighborhood, said, “I think they are beating around the bush and they’re going to do it one way or another. I think our voice is not being heard.”
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