Letter to the Editor: Grosse Pointe City 'Medical District' Zoning

Resident shares his concern for the proposed zoning changes to areas presently zoned residential in the City of Grosse Pointe.


I grew up in Detroit and, over the years, it’s been somewhat depressing to see whole areas where I spent my youth fall into disrepair and then be torn down.  The Detroit Boat Club, the Whittier, two apartment buildings I lived in while in my 20’s….

It never occurred to me that I had something similar to look forward to once I moved to Grosse Pointe.  I moved here for schools, proximity to the water, and, a sense of security.

Now I find myself in the position of seeing my neighborhood destroyed, not by remote economic forces or social upheaval, but by the simple actions of the Grosse Pointe City Council.

I live on Notre Dame, close to Jefferson and I’ve been here  with my family for 21 years.  We are surrounded by attractive houses, trees and pleasantly landscaped lots.  As in most neighborhoods we have bike riders, parents pushing their babies in strollers, people walking their dogs….the whole panoply of suburban life.  That will all disappear with the City’s approval of Beaumont’s request to change our zoning.

Suddenly, without any input from me, the City Council seems to have their sights set on doing the bidding of Beaumont Hospital, a nonvoting non taxpaying corporation headquartered in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Beaumont wants to expand and, has acquired adjacent residential properties, including the properties across the street from me, which have been zoned single family residential for as long as we have had zoning laws in our city.

It is hard to imagine that Beaumont embarked on such a program without having a pretty good idea that the city would ultimately rezone the properties to accommodate their desires.

Homeowners rely on the protection of zoning laws to maintain their property values.  It is difficult to understand why the City Council of a residential suburban community would be interested in tearing down the nicest residences on Notre Dame and eliminating tax payers, just to serve the bidding of a non local corporation.  We are already suffering from lower property values due to economic conditions and now we are further threatened by having our neighborhood destroyed by a City Council fiat.

This, of course, is the same City Council that has given us the vacant lot, on St Clair, south of The Village, which is now described as an economic opportunity rather than the fiasco that it is.

It is my understanding that the City is holding a public hearing (October 29th) on the “Health Care District” although it is my guess that this is just window dressing for a fait accompli.  Tearing down perfectly good houses in our small residential city and destroying a good neighborhood doesn’t seem like great public policy.  I hope the City Council will give the whole matter a second look. 

Peter H. Fortune

Mark October 10, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Peter while I understand it is probably disconcerting to the nearby residents it is a worthy project for GP. Beaumont is truly a center of excellence as well as a large employer in our area. Bringing more capabilities and more jobs to the area is great for GP in totality but granted is not so beneficial to immediate residents' home values. A word of caution though if you plan on moving again choose somewhere far enough away from healthcare facilities or a commercial district where encroachment could be an issue.
Frank Walshingham October 10, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Peter, it's a done deal. The city council has sold out to Beaumont. My advice is call a good land use attorney, like Dan Dalton of Dalton Tomich at 248-971-2400. If you don't have any legal recourse, then hold out and be the last one on the block to sell out to Beaumonyt at top dollar.
Bob Frapples October 10, 2012 at 01:54 PM
In reference to the vacant lot on St. Clair: wouldn't you agree that marketing it as an "economic opportunity" could make it more appealing to investors rather than calling it The City Fiasco as you seem to suggest? Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.
GP For Life October 10, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I have to agree with Mr. Fortune that the GPC council should have shown a little more diligence in their decision making process. Yes, Beaumont especially and our hospitals in general, are good for the community, but the needs of all the citizens should be considered in zoning.
Benjamin October 10, 2012 at 06:08 PM
For all its excellence, how does not paying any property taxes and removing tax paying real estate off the roles enhance Grosse Pointe? Also being a bedroom/residential community how does job creation beneift us?
Mark October 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
It benefits you when a level 2 trauma surgeon saves your life. Also I didn't know it was a secret that businesses and restaurants in the Village and other commercial districts don't do all that well. Orrrr maybe it brings it more nurses, doctors, and mid level providers to live here. But I say again Benjamin when I make a decision on where to live I tend to steer clear of areas where economic opportunity infringe on my privacy or property. How about blaming all the people on your block who sold out to Beaumont...
Mark October 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
That being said Benjamin I do not agree with the council's decision to not be transparent. That wasn't fair to the community. But I'm not all that concerned about it as I do truly believe it benefits the community to have a top tier hospital within its borders. Also I'm not sure if you know about the wellness center Beaumont is involved in here in GP or achieving the only "baby friendly" determination for a hospital in the state. Both worthy endeavors that benefit our community.
Lisa C. October 11, 2012 at 01:12 AM
so all the gunshot and gang victims can come here instead of going to St john's? That's brilliant. Now we have no where to go for stitches and broken bones unless we want to wait 5-6 hours.
Benjamin October 11, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Mark unlike you I do have direct experience with Beaumont and I would never go there for any trauma, my first choice would be St. Johns. Talk to any emegency room doc in the city and none them would recomend Beamont. As for my stay there and a very similar stay at St. John's for a similar problem the care at both was more than adequate. Although Beaumont charged 3 times the price tacking on needless tests and held me there 4 days longer than St. John for essentially the same proceedure. After checking with my sources while there are many staff members who live in the area most live outside of the pointes. Also I bet if you did a study of expenditure of resources versus the benefits the hospital is a drain on the community. You are very smug telling everyone to move if they do not like it what would you do if I bought up the block across the street from your home and turned it into a parking lot? Also thank you for the inspiration! With the historic nature of the area its time to take this problem out the hands of the city counsel.
Mark October 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Well Benjamin I didn't tell everyone to move if they don't like it. I suggested using a more pragmatic approach to home buying next time and not locating yourself a half a block from a hospital or commercial district that could at some point expand in the future. Also I do not disagree with your assessment at all about St Johns and Beaumont. Is it surprising considering the difference in facility? Beaumont is attempting to improve and expand their facilities for just that reason. I doubt you would find too many emergency docs in Royal Oak or Troy saying "don't go to Beaumont". Fight the good fight sir I won't stand in your way.
Chris K October 11, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Yes, that is right Lisa. Now we can have the Gun and Knife Show North and Gun and Knife Show Lakeside and the nearby residents can be at risk while gang members wait outside for revenge with the public safety department nearby instead of patrolling our streets. Medical care has changed tremendously since that hospital entered the community with big profits margins the major objective. I suspect if Beaumont did not expand it would not be profitable and then close leaving a large empty hospital building. While I think the lack of transparency of the council is deplorable and typical of all of the councils in the Grosse Pointes we have to cut them some slack, they probably still think Jacobson's is open. Moreover, the residents don't bother to be involved until something like this happens. Of course, councils will do as they please. it is a political country club.
Linda October 11, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I am speaking as an expert now on which hospitals to go to. NEVER go to Beaumont for any Trauma. Go to St. Johns. You will get excellent care. My husband has been there now several times for serious health issues and he was taken care of immediately. Granted at night when you have to call GP EMS and go to ER there after 10 p.m. it is scary but have Valet park your car and you walk in and you do have to go through that security check which is necessary there for obvious reasons. Beaumont had my husband for a minor issue, a fractured little toe!!!! They kept him in hospital 5 days which was insane. He was furious but because he had insurance he was seen by as many as 5 different doctors! He was ot even diagnosed properly until we left and then the RN told him he only had a small fractured toe, nothing more. The trauma doctor at Beaumont does rectal surgery!!!!! Think before you go there and go to St. John's if you are in serious trouble as well as heart issues. St. John's has an excellent group of cardiac doctors who all work out of the EastLake Cardiac Care Clinic on Little Mack in SCS. If anyone wants advice about doctors and hospitals just ask me and I will tell you.
Mark October 11, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Linda you will get no argument here. As it stands in a real trauma situation you have to be daft to choose Beaumont over St John's. Beaumont GP is for the most part a small community hospital without the same breadth of staff or facilities as St John's. That being said I have no idea what occurred that had your husband in the hospital for five days but I find very hard to believe that the only thing going on was a fractured toe. I won't go so far as to call you a liar but it sounds far fetched. If that story is in fact true why not leave in the first 24 hours? If I know I busted my toe and they haven't figured out a game plan in six to eight hours then I'm going to leave.
Ralph Deeds October 12, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Nice job, Peter, but you were too easy on Beaumont and the city council. You could have called Beaumont a "giant vampire squid" akin to the NY banksters. Anyway, we'll help find you a nice place on a quiet street in Birmingham far from Beaumont.
GP For Life October 12, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Ralph, while the allusion of Beaumont to Goldman Sachs was entertaining I don't think Birmingham is really the answer. Most of those people don't even know how to sail... Disgusting.
Frank Walshingham October 13, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Shame on the nuns for selling Bon Secours Hospital out to a corporate monster like Beaumont who could care less about screwing the long term residents of the area. Benjamin's comments are right on about Beaumont trying to pressure people into having unneeded tests that are marked up three of four times the costs. And Linda is right about the trauma service at Beaumont GP being an absolute joke. Trauma there is covered either by a rectal surgeon, or by a surgeon who got fired as department chief at St. John's but whose boating buddy in Beaumont administration gave him a job there. If you got serious trouble, don't let the ambulance bring you to Cadieux and Jefferson! Plus, any corporate entity that would take crucifixes out of the hospital rooms is shameless!


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