Nearly a decade in the making and still years away from fruition, Sutter Health's plans for a new hospital north of Santa Rosa won final approval Tuesday from the county Board of Supervisors.
As expected, the board confirmed its earlier informal votes approving the hospital's business plan and its environmental impact report.
The final vote lasted all of five minutes and involved no public testimony. Still, it marked the end of years of planning, including haggling over site selection and the hospital's size, various land use and health care studies and dozens of public meetings.
Sutter officials on hand Tuesday cheered the decision.
“I knew we would have a plan that was acceptable to the county,” said Mike Cohill, senior vice president of Sutter Health. “I think it's fair to say that I didn't think it would take this long.”
Opponents, meanwhile, many of whom had lobbied for a site closer to low-income populations or to a planned SMART rail station, said they were not surprised by the vote.
“We're disappointed that they didn't decide to deal with the issues we raised,” said Steve Birdlebough, chair of the Sierra Club's Sonoma Group.
The new 82-bed hospital is slated for 25 acres off Highway 101 and Mark West Springs Road near the Wells Fargo Center.
Sutter officials said the parcel's size, location at the center of the county's patient population and its unobstructed flight path for helicopters made it the best among more than two dozen sites considered for the new hospital.
Sutter Health took over the former Community Hospital on Chanate Road in 1996, but has been pushing for a new medical campus for years to comply with state seismic safety standards.
Construction of the new campus is slated to begin as early as October with some grading of the site. Until then, Sutter officials said they'll be busy securing about a half-dozen land use permits from federal, state and local agencies.