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St. Petersburg hospital's noisy expansion frustrates neighbors

ST. PETERSBURG — For the past two years, Jonathan Dye has endured St. Anthony's Hospital's construction and all the inconveniences it has caused him.

There have been flat tires caused by construction nails and screws. Dents and scratches, caused by trucks, have marred his car. There's the noise at all hours that make it hard for him to enjoy his 7th Avenue North home. And there's the lack of parking spaces, which are occupied by the construction workers' vehicles.

"The hospital has a business to run, I get that," said Dye, who is a police officer for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. "But while they get to go home at 5, I'm stuck with this seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

And after Thursday, he'll have to put up with it for at least 13 more months. The City Council rejected his appeal of a development review board's approval in October of a major expansion for St. Anthony's that includes a new medical office building and a six story parking garage for 800 vehicles.

It's part of a recent growth spurt for St. Anthony's campus, wedged between Dr. M.L. King Jr. St. N, Fifth Avenue N, 14th Street N and Ninth Avenue N. In 2010, it began construction on a new three-story emergency room.

But while Dye and some of his neighbors have been frustrated by the construction, representatives for St. Anthony's said they would do their best to resolve any further issues Dye might have with the construction approved Thursday.

"We'll address any concerns he has," said Marilyn Mullen Healy, an attorney for the hospital. "They have a direct line to communicate their concerns now."

Healy said Dye's complaints weren't known until a day before the Oct. 5 Development Review Commission meeting that approved the most recent expansion. Dye said he finds that hard to believe, considering he filed an insurance claim against the hospital after his fiancee's vehicle was damaged last year, and has consistently complained about the noise.

City staff recommended that council members reject Dye's appeal of the project's approval because code doesn't allow site plans to be rejected over construction issues. Dye's attorney, George Rahdert (whose law firm also represents the St. Petersburg Times) said code does allow a project to be rejected because of construction issues.

Council members sympathized with Dye's plight, and some scolded hospital officials for construction they said could have been better planned so as not to disrupt the lives of the residents. "Common courtesy should have stepped in here," said Bill Dudley.

But in the end, they unanimously approved the project. Jeff Danner said he was convinced hospital officials would respond to future complaints from neighbors. "I think St. Anthony's has heard loud and clear," Danner said. "I think these things will be addressed.

St. Petersburg hospital's noisy expansion frustrates neighbors 12/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011 11:48pm]
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