Ridgewood board: Restrict Valley Hospital’s expansion

In stop valley, Valley Hospital on February 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Valley Hospital should be restricted from expanding into surrounding residential neighborhoods, members of the Ridgewood Planning Board said.

The board, which is considering an expansion plan by the hospital, has also asked village planner Blais L. Brancheau to include language about hospital design, signage, bed use, outside lighting, parking and construction in amendments to Ridgewood’s master plan.

“There should be a statement in the master plan that the board finds it is detrimental for the hospital usage to go beyond the four corners of the hospital zone,” planning board attorney Gail L. Price said at a meeting Monday night.

Valley is asking the board to change the village master plan and Hospital-zone ordinance to accommodate its $750-million expansion plan. The hospital wants to increase its size 67 percent by adding a parking deck and replacing two older buildings with three new ones.

Valley is surrounded by residential streets and Benjamin Franklin Middle School. While hospital officials said they do not plan to expand off their campus, residents have voiced concerns that the hospital would eventually encroach on the neighborhood.

Board chairman David Nicholson asked if master plan amendments could include “a mechanism so the board could influence the overarching design of the building.”

“I could consult with the hospital about windows and the use of glass,” Brancheau replied. “But the master plan would be more appropriate to have more policy guidelines than details.”

Mayor David Pfund said there should be language describing any structural changes in order to “maintain the integrity of the village. There has been concern about the neighborhood.”

“The hospital will never be consistent with the neighborhood, but certain things can be done to mitigate the impact,” Brancheau said. Materials and design of the facade “should respect the neighborhood character,” he said.

A vocal group of residents have opposed the hospital’s plans, complaining that the new, taller buildings would tower over the neighborhood. They also worry about how years of construction will affect the middle school students.

The board wants the master plan to have language protecting residents from outside lighting glare and to regulate construction activity and traffic.

The board and Brancheau agreed that Valley should move about 100 parking spaces behind homes on one of the neighboring streets to a parking deck. That would allow a 16-foot high fence and buffer zone between the homes and the hospital.

The board deserves credit for addressing issues raised by neighbors, said Paul Gould, a member of Concerned Residents of Ridgewood, who oppose the hospital’s proposal.

But, “this process is still far from over,” he said. An unresolved issue, he said, is, what would be the impact on traffic if Valley changes some in-patient services to out-patient.

Valley has already reduced traffic in the neighborhood by 600,000 trips a year by moving services to other facilities, said Megan Fraser, a hospital spokeswoman. The hospital agrees with the board’s recommendation to move parking from its Steilen Avenue border, she said. “We’ll have the opportunity to work with people and to hear from the neighbors,” she said.

“We’re delighted the planning board is reviewing the master plan and H-zone ordinance, because those changes will allow us to go forward,” Fraser said.

The planning board will hold one more session to complete the draft amendments on March 17. It will then schedule public hearings on the hospital plan.

E-mail: groves@northjersey.com


  1. Someone told me “valley hospital does not pay property taxes to the vllage of ridgewood” is this true?

  2. 67% increase in the size of the facility…?

    Van Dien is a nightmare now…can’t imagine what it would look like when this boondoggle is done…

  3. VH pays zero in taxes, which is in part how they afford the lavish PR and advertising campaigns. They are also a significant drain on public services. Just look at the extent to which they monopolize the Planning Board. How much will it cost to upgrade fire-fighting equipment if they build their enormous towers?

  4. Are they planning to bring the 600,000 trips per year back to Ridgewood?

    The overall “look” of the hospital is not what concerns me. It is the overall size and traffic impact. The board is not doing their job if they think that a “nice looking” building is all the residents want.

  5. 9:42 am

    Valley is a nonprofit hospital and it does not pay taxes.

  6. Valley has not been upfront with its neighbors about its plans from the beginning of this expansion plan.
    They have spent a lot of money and spread a lot of hot air about how they have “helped” the area. What they have never addressed is their negetive impact on OUR COMMUNITY.
    Hospital Officials have not been listening to the Hospital neighbors or given their concerns any real thought.

    Their words are hollow.

    The only thing between the Hospital and their grand plans has been the Planning Board. I hope that the Planning Board can give the Tax Paying Residents some kind of assurance, in writing, that the Hospital will not be able to continue to “hot air” their way through the system.

  7. Valley Hospital pays $0 (zero) property taxes being a non-profit. However, many other non-profit hospital’s who pay their communities taxes-in-lieu (equivalent to land taxes) as a recognition that they impact the community and use services. If Valley were to pay taxes-in-lieu the bill would be over $1 million that would be paid directly to our Village council. Contrast this with the fact that Valley makes over $40 million in profit each year.

  8. The Planning Board has chosen to ignore the traffic issue, and the fact that additional parking requested by Valley will bring 700,000+ additional cars into Ridgewood every year.

  9. Maybe they will name a doormat after Pfund.

  10. i can not belive that valley hospital does not pay property tax! in these horrible economic times the town should postpone any expansion. the residents are already over taxed and the town spending is over budget.we can’t take any more expenses,traffic ,sewers, police, fire dept,etc.

  11. Valley Hospital should pay taxes in lieu to Ridgewood because it uses our services. It should not pay with “service” that it also readily suppies to half of the tri-state area.

    It uses our services such as police, fire, city hall, roads, good reputation etc without giving anything “physical” back to Ridgewood alone.

    What “special” committment does Valley Hospital give Ridgewood? – nothing but the expectation of a growing hospital campus with its associated burden upon the infrastructure of Ridgewood.

  12. I disagree with the Planning Board trying to restrict Valley Hospital’s efforts to expand. This view is far too short sighted. It is has been proven the majority of Ridgewood people support the hospital and this means taking some hard choices. If people want Valley Hospital to stay in Ridgewood, then it must be able to compete with Hackensack to remain economically viable over the next 20 years. The hospital needs over 30 acres to be an optimum facility, so rather than limiting the hospital further the Planning Board should be planning for the future. To achieve the required space, serious discussions should start now on how BF Middle school can be relocated and at least the first row of houses around the hospital converted into low-rise medical facilities. This does mean that people on the East side of town will need to make some sacrifices, but Valley Hospital needs to remain strong.

  13. if valley left ridgewood the land could the be taxed- but they won’t, they have our 25000 already overtaxed residents paying for them.

  14. Funny post 10:20 am

  15. 10:20, I give you credit for at least being honest about the ultimate goal, without hiding behind euphemisms about being a good neighbor or caring about the kids. Valley’s profitability (oops, it’s “non-profit”) is more important than the people living in the neighborhood, any of the kids going to BF (the entire east side of the village), or the quality of life for anybody who’ll have to endure the increased traffic, noise, dust, etc. But hey Valley “needs” to remain strong, so let them eat cake.

  16. 10:20 – Your thinking is shortsighted. Since you claim that it has been proven that the majority of residents want the expansion, we should be looking at this over a much longer time period. Since all of the aging baby boomers will need additional medical care over the next several decades, we should devote the entire Eastside to Valley’s expansion. There are only two certainties in life – death and Valley lying that this will be the last time it needs to expand.

  17. 10:20 Are you insane?

  18. Reluctantly, I agree with 10:20 — we face difficult and unavoidable choices. What must be done is clear, however, and we should own up to that now. Our community needs that Hospital. Collectively, we may need to sacrifice, but it is also possible that re-zoning can provide economic incentives that are beneficial to all.

    BF can be relocated, and it could easily be combined with GW. GW could be physically expanded to the adjoining field, with the recently expanded Citizen’s Park providing playground space.

    If re-zoning allows Valley area homeowners the choice to sell out to the Hospital and private medical practices, we would have the further beneficial effect of reducing the number of schoolchildren on the Eastside, while increasing our tax base should taxable medical practices be given the opportunity to flourish.

    Also, we need to examine the potential re-classification of some othewise under-used land. Again, this can be accomplished with re-zoning that provides both flexibility and economic incentive. Somewhat hesitantly, I refer to Valleau cemetary and the Old Paramus Church.

    For good or ill, we’ve reached the21st century. The cemetary no longer fits with the long range needs of the Village. We need to measure the emotional and, indeed, religious attachments to that hallowed ground and the sacred remains therein, against the needs of the modern era. Once we do that, I think we will see that emotion, faith and reason compel us to re-examine priorities. Re-interment of all or a substantial portion of the cemetary might allow the Hospital to construct a campus-like facility that could endure through the end of this century. Moreover, many of the valid traffic objections of the Hospital’s neighbors would be met by the new site’s easy access to Route 17. If re-internment is not possible within the existing space, then it might be possible to dedicate all or part of the Shindler or Habernickle park properties for this purpose. Jogging and walking path access could provide usable open space for all residents. A clear advantage is that aesthetics could be maintained both as to the new Hospital campus (set off the road) and for any new cemetary area.

    Somewhat more timidly, I question the continued need for the Paramus Reformed Church to maintain its current location. Perhaps the congregation might agree to a relocation deal that would ensure preservation of the old Church building and enough money to move somewhere else?

    I do not suggest that we use any force of emminent domain. But changes in zoning laws and economic incentives (not provided by public pfunding, but from the Hospital to willing property owners) could do the trick and end the bitter division caused by this debate over the Valley’s existing parcel of land. A hospital zone corridor starting from Linwood and including one or two adjoining streets of houses up through BF and its fields through to the cemetary and from there to Route 17 would allow us to create a hospital complex that would be, frankly, what the taxpayers of Ridgewood deserve. Perhaps at the risk of sounding somewhat callous, we can no longer afford to devote land to the preservation of what has been, when Valley clearly offers an alternative that is in the best interests of our community and preserving the length and quality of our citizens’ lives.

    I applaud 1020 for having the courage to open this debate.

  19. “If people want Valley Hospital to stay in Ridgewood, then it must be able to compete with Hackensack to remain economically viable over the next 20 years.”

    10:20–your logic is fallacious. VH can choose to be a community healthcare facility or it can choose to compete with Hackensack. You are saying that this community cannot support a community healthcare facilty over the next 20 years. I seriously doubt that is accurate. Certainly the level of administration and profit currently enjoyed may not be sustainable, but I think that there is a market for the right-sized facility. If Valley Hospital chooses another direction, my strong preference is that they leave the Village–the market will replace them.

  20. It’s pretty evident that the pro-expansion folks are working the Blog pretty hard.

    The “not for profit” designation is laughable…

  21. the ridgewood taxpayer is already strongly financialy stressed, this is another financial burden being forced on him/her.valley hospital must pay their share of expenses to the town.

  22. 10:20 and 3:01 are the same person and have a huge interest in this project.

  23. hey- everytime i visit someone in the valley hospital they tell me the employees stole something from them- a wallet, a walker, a coat, a pair of glasses, what ever- point being they’ve got a bunch of crooks working their. how about all the other criminal cover ups the valley keeps from hitting the papers?

  24. 3.01pm what is “public pfunding”? Is “Pfunding” a Freudian slip Mr. Major?

  25. Every sector has its problems with employees and whose to say it was an employee who took the supposed stolen stuff. Alot of visitors in and out all day.

    I hope Valley gets the go-ahead on the project.

    Would you all be happy if they paid taxes?

  26. 5:48 PM Now we are taking Megan. All you need is Audrey and the Trustee’s to agree.

  27. Yeah right- open a satellite here in the village and your emergency services will put more miles on the rigs and need to replace them even sooner due to wear and tear on the vehicles. Oh yeah, and you will have to hire more EMT’s to staff the rigs during the day since your rigs will be out of town on a longer round trip with the patients. Watch your taxes go up even more. Don’t forget those extra hires need medical benefits, etc!

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