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Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (via Google Maps)

Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 8/16/2022 — Hektor Fernando Alvarez’s employment at Virginia Hospital Center was terminated on Friday (Aug. 12), the hospital says.

Earlier: A man from Falls Church has been arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a patient under his care when he worked at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (3600 Joseph Siewick Drive), the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Friday).

The victim — a patient who was receiving long-term care at the hospital — told a hospital technician on July 7 that his previous caretaker had “fondled the victim’s genitalia on two separate occasions,” police said.

Detectives from FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau began an investigation on July 8. They identified the caretaker as 21-year-old Falls Church resident Hektor Fernando Alvarez, who was working for a company called Metropolitan Healthcare Services (MHS) that Inova had contracted “to provide sitter services for patients,” according to police.

The FCPD says Alvarez is no longer employed by MHS, but he was working as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. There have been no incidents reported at that hospital, according to the department.

Alvarez was arrested after a month-long investigation on Aug. 9 and has been charged with aggravated sexual battery with a victim through mental incapacity or helplessness.

“He was held on no bond but later released on a secured bond,” the police department said, which means the money was primarily covered by a bond company.

Prosecutors had argued for Alvarez to be denied a bond, but the judge rejected their recommendation, FFXnow was told.

Online case information indicates that Alvarez was arraigned at the Fairfax County General District Court on Wednesday (Aug. 10) and had a bond hearing yesterday (Thursday). A court employee told FFXnow that the bond was served this morning.

Inova Health System says it has been working with the victim’s family and MHS to respond to the assault allegation.

“Inova has been in contact with the patient, their family, and the contracted staffing agency in regard to this troubling alleged incident,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit said in a statement. “Safety is central to everything we do at Inova, and we expect all who work or provide services in our care sites to meet that high standard.”

The FCPD says anyone with additional information about the case can contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars,” the FCPD said. “Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.”

A preliminary hearing for Alvarez has been set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

A flock of birds flies over Route 123 in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — For Fairfax County property owners, it’s the final day to send in the first installment of your annual real estate taxes, which saw significant increases this year even with a 3-cent reduction in the county’s rate. Payments can be made to the Department of Tax Administration by phone, mail, drop box, mobile app and online. [DTA]

Springfield Man Convicted in 2020 Murder — A jury convicted Carlington Fitz Auther Campbell yesterday (Wednesday) for shooting and killing Anthony Sullivan outside a West Springfield apartment in November 2020, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced. Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder and a weapons charge, which carry possible prison sentences of five to 40 years and three years, respectively. [WUSA9]

Decision on Mosaic District Skating Rink Postponed — “Because of some public pushback, unresolved questions and a legal-advertising snafu, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on July 13 deferred until September its decision on whether to allow temporary ice- and roller-skating rinks in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax City Veterinarian Helps Ukraine Animal Shelters — “Dr. Courtney Katsur chokes up when she describes what she saw while volunteering for two weeks in Ukraine. The veterinarian with Town & Country Animal Hospital in Fairfax tried for months to find a way to get to the war zone to help animals she was seeing in the news.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Clinics Available for Required Student Vaccinations — “Before students return to school in late August, families can check to ensure their students are up to date on immunizations required at Fairfax County Public Schools. The Fairfax County Health Department is offering appointments at upcoming immunization clinics.” [Patch]

Inova to Rebrand Urgent Care Centers With Partnership — Inova Health System will soon let patients make appointments, check wait times and more through the on-demand health care platform GoHealth Urgent Care. Announced yesterday (Wednesday), the joint venture will convert seven existing Inova Urgent Care locations in Northern Virginia into Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care centers later this year, with additional locations planned. [Inova]

Penn Daw Firefighters Help Mow Lawn — “Recently, Station 11, Penn Daw, B-Shift responded to a routine EMS incident for an elderly gentleman experiencing distress while mowing his lawn on one of the hottest days of the year. The #FCFRD crew assisted the gentlemen, and then completed mowing his lawn prior to leaving.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Park Authority Fall Registration Begins Next Week — “Fairfax County Park Authority registration for fall classes and programs opens Aug. 2, 2022. Fall classes will be in full swing with programs at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools. Virtual classes are available for those who prefer or cannot attend in person.” [FCPA]

McLean Lidl Hosts Kids’ Drawing Contest — “Lidl is holding a drawing competition for children at its new McLean store as part of a benefit for the SHARE of McLean food bank. Starting Wednesday, children can participate in the drawing competition, with a chance to win a $100 Lidl gift card…Once the competition closes on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Lidl will narrow down the entries and ask McLean community members to vote for their favorite piece of art.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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D.C. region price increases over the last decade for basic needs (via Fairfax County)

Sufficient health care, college degrees, and homeownership are becoming increasingly unattainable for Fairfax County residents with low to moderate incomes, a new report finds.

Late last month, Fairfax County released its “Needs Assessment” study, which comes out every three years with data on the current economic conditions in the county and the impact those conditions have on residents.

The report paints a pretty harrowing picture in light of the pandemic and recent inflation, particularly for lower-income residents. Low to moderate incomes are generally defined as those earning 60% or below the area median income. In 2021, that number was $77,400 for a family of four.

Just in the last year, those living on a limited income are having more trouble affording basic needs, as rising cost-of-living expenses mean lower-income households are spending more than they did in the past.

“Fairfax County residents with moderate to low income may have little to no money remaining after covering essential expenses, such as food and housing,” the report says. “This limits a household’s ability to build savings and restricts economic competitiveness.”

According to the report, household incomes have not kept pace with rising costs of essential expenses over the past decade.

In Fairfax County, the median household income has gone up about 21% since 2012. However, food, housing, and transportation all have risen more in that timeframe. Most notably, health care costs have risen by a whopping 41% in the last decade.

“Longer-term, health care costs have increased the most over 10 years, which may present challenges for residents who do not have health insurance coverage,” the report says.

As a result, the lowest-income households in the county are spending much more on health care, percentage-wise, than other income brackets.

The lowest 20% of households by income are spending nearly 29% of their expenses on health care, while those in the middle are spending between 15% to 17%.

Consumer prices have also gone up more in this past year than at any other point in the previous four decades. Tuition and child care now cost nearly 4% more than last year, housing more than 5%, health care 7%, and food 8%, according to the report. Read More

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Morning Notes

A bicyclist heads down Maple Avenue in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Inova Plans New Recovery Hospital —  Inova Health System will open a Critical Illness Recovery Hospital at the Mount Vernon Hospital in Fort Hunt in the first half of 2023. Operated by the provider Select Medical, the 32-bed facility will provide specialized clinical support for patients who require an extended stay but no longer need intensive care — an option currently not available in Northern Virginia. [Inova]

Jollibee Opening in Lincolnia Area Sunday — “Filipino chicken chain Jollibee announced that, after some earlier delays, the Lincolnia location is scheduled to open this Sunday, June 26. The restaurant is opening at 4809 Beauregard Street in the Plaza at Landmark shopping center.” [ALXnow]

Fairfax City Mayoral Race Adds New Candidate — “Fairfax City Council member Sang Yi announced on Wednesday that he was running in the Nov. 8 general election to be city’s next mayor…Sang will be running against Catherine Read. Mayor Daniel Meyer previously announced that he wouldn’t be running for reelection.” [Patch]

Car Wheels Stolen in Newington — “Two car owners in Newington in Fairfax County woke up this morning to find their cars propped up on bricks and all the wheels stolen. One of the car owners…tells me he works hard to provide for his family and is very frustrated by this. It’s part of a troubling trend that’s been going on for years in the DC area.” [NBC4]

Fairfax County Is #1 in Country for Mental Health — Northern Virginia had a strong showing in a “Healthiest Communities” ranking from U.S. News & World Report and CVS Health, which graded 500 localities nationwide. At #17 overall, Fairfax County got its highest mark for mental health based on reports of mental distress, depression, and death rates related to suicide and substance issues. [U.S. News & World Report]

NOVA Parks Seeks Input on Five-Year Plan — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has released a draft 2023-2027 strategic plan and is accepting feedback via an online survey until 5 p.m. on July 8. Priorities proposed by the plan include a $6 million investment in trails, a visitor center for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and a commitment to plant over 50,000 trees. [NOVA Parks]

Merger Gives Tysons Another Corporate HQ — “Defense contractor Vectrus Inc. and government services company Vertex Inc. are moving forward with a $2.1 billion merger that will move the rebranded company’s headquarters to Northern Virginia…V2X is expected to be based in McLean, where Vectrus already has an office at 7901 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Cuts Ribbon on New Mural — “The new mural, a nod to the month-long Liberty Amendments Month celebration and painted by local artist, Teresa Ahmad, was unveiled today at the Patrick Henry Library! Everyone is encouraged to check out this beautiful addition to the Town!” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Celebrate Hummingbirds in Lincolnia — “For those who can’t get enough of the beauty of hummingbirds, a group of local photographers are mounting an exhibition this summer at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria…The show runs from June 28 through Oct. 16, 2022, at the Historic House at Green Spring Gardens and is free to the public.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 64. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Sunrise Senior Living is under construction at 1515 Chain Bridge Road in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Officials React to Oakton Crash — Multiple Fairfax County elected officials expressed devastation at news that two Oakton High School students have died after a vehicle crash in Oakton yesterday (Tuesday). Crisis support services are available for students, according to school board members. [Twitter]

Fire Reported at Prosperity Flats Apartments — “Fire sprinklers extinguished a fire Tuesday night at a high-rise apartment building in Dunn Loring, according to a 6:58 p.m. post on the Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department’s official Twitter account. Fire units were called earlier to the apartment building in the 2700 block of Dorr Avenue after eighth floor residents reported seeing smoke.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Marks Pride Month — “Today, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed June 2022 as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. We urge all county residents, employees and elected officials to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, and to stand up, speak out and show support for those who face prejudice and discrimination.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Police Set Up Car Parts Theft Task Force — “The Fairfax County Police Department has created a Catalytic Converter Task Force to investigate the theft of the converters and any organized regional rings behind the increase in thefts…From January to April this year, 333 catalytic converters were stolen in Fairfax County, compared with just 27 similar thefts over the same period in 2021.” [Patch]

Major Broadband Investment Announced in Springfield — Virginia will receive $219.8 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to expand broadband access, Sen. Mark Warner announced yesterday at Northern Virginia Community College’s Springfield campus. The American Rescue Plan Act funds will be allocated to local governments through grants and could improve access in an estimated 76,873 locations. [Mark Warner]

New FCPS Budget Supports Virtual Mental Health Services — “As part of the $3.3 billion budget, school board officials allocated $500,000 for telehealth mental health services for students. The Virginia county is still in the early stages of identifying a vendor for the services, but county officials said program possibilities include access to physical and behavioral health providers and mobile services that would allow students to use their devices for symptom management or tracking.” [WTOP]

Fairfax City Moves Back Fourth of July Celebration — The City of Fairfax will hold its Independence Day Evening Show on July 5 at Fairfax High School due to a shortage of licensed pyrotechnicians. The city says its fireworks vendor has canceled more than two dozen contracts, an issue that has also affected the Town of Vienna. [Fairfax City]

New Urgent Care Clinic Opens in Lorton — Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic has opened a new weekend urgent care clinic in its Lorton office (10716 Richmond Highway, Suite 101) to help patients with acute bone and joint injuries. The clinic, which has also has offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and at Mount Vernon Hospital, accepts both walk-in patients and appointments. [M2 Orthopedics]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 82 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The “Ascent” sculpture at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Rabies Confirmed in Biting Coyote — The Fairfax County Health Department confirmed yesterday (Monday) that a coyote that bit four people and two dogs over the weekend in the Lake Accotink area was infected with rabies. Anyone who touched or was bitten or scratched by the animal should call the county health department’s rabies program at 703-246-2433, TTY 711. [FCHD]

Confederate Soldier’s Tombstone Defaced — The letters ‘CS,’ ‘NVA,’ and a Star of David were spraypainted on the tombstone of Armistead T. Thompson in the Thompson Family Cemetery by the Pan Am Shopping Center in Merrifield. Fairfax County police received a report last Tuesday (May 31) and said the property management is working to remove it, though as of Sunday (June 5), the graffiti was still there. [Patch]

Homicide Investigation in Reston Continues — “Detectives and officers are canvassing in the area of Springs Apartments & Hunters Woods Plaza in Reston after Rene Alberto Pineda Sanchez was found deceased on May 31. Call detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2 w/any info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Inova Opens Northern Virginia’s First LGBTQ-Focused Clinic — “Inova’s Pride Clinic will be open to anyone who needs services. It will begin small as a primary care practice for patients of all ages and then grow to include specialties…The Inova Pride Clinic ribbon-cutting will be Wednesday, June 8 at 10 a.m. in Falls Church at 500 North Washington St., Suite 200.” [WTOP]

Tysons Emergency Is Now Open — “HCA Virginia held a grand opening ceremony on Friday, June 3, 2022 for its new freestanding emergency room in Northern Virginia…The state-of-the-art ER will be staffed with board-certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, just like an emergency room that is housed within the walls of a hospital.” [HCA Virginia]

County Puts Food Inspection Reports Online — “The public can now access retail food establishment inspection reports more quickly and easily, as part of an update to the county’s new online PLUS platform…Environmental health staff inspect restaurants and other retail food service establishments to make sure employees follow safe food handling practices, covering sanitation, food storage and preparation, and have adequate kitchen facilities.” [FCHD]

Wolf Trap Nonprofit Awarded by Governor — A provider of short-term, overnight care for children with intellectual disabilities, Jill’s House was honored on May 26 with the second ‘Spirit of Virginia Award’ given by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin since they took office in January. The organization has served more than 1,000 families since it opened in 2010. [Sun Gazette]

Annandale Park Gets Clean-up — “A big thank you to community volunteers who came out to Backlick Park this past weekend and held a spring clean-up. This successful venture was a wonderful way to mark World Environment Day and the National Great Outdoors Month.” [FCPA/Twitter]

Chantilly Neighborhood Watch on the Lookout for Thievery — “Rob, 53, was already a neighborhood watcher in his Brookfield community…before the ransacking incident two years ago but he said it made him increasingly aware neighborhood watch is a needed position to mitigate this from happening to one of his neighbors.” [Fairfax County Times]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 74 and low of 62. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Updated on 6/8/2022Tysons Emergency is now in service after a grand opening on Friday, June 3.

Earlier: There’s nothing like a two-year-long pandemic to drive home the importance of access to quality health care services.

Reston Hospital Center was planning a new emergency department in Tysons before COVID-19 showed up, but the pandemic heightened the sense of urgency around the project, particularly as hospitals continue to see increased demand, Tysons Emergency Medical Director Saad Amin says.

“With Covid having come around, it’s been a real important endeavor that HCA [Virginia] and Reston Hospital have been trying to get done,” Amin said, referring to the company that owns the hospital. “We’re very excited to have this open to the community.”

Tysons Emergency hasn’t opened just yet, but it’s expected to by the end of May. HCA hosted an open house and power lunches this past Thursday and Friday (May 19-20) to introduce community members to the nearly 14,000-square-foot facility.

Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, just east of the Route 123 and Route 7 interchange, the standalone emergency room features 10 private exam rooms, including one where the furniture is bolted down for cases that raise behavioral health concerns.

Other amenities include on-site lab testing, imaging technology, a resuscitation room, a triage room near the waiting area, and a decontamination room with doors that can control the air flow and separate occupants from the rest of the ER.

Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the facility is expected to accommodate about 22 patients on a typical day, according to the staff. The main ER has a TV with real-time data tracking the number of patients and wait times for both Tysons and Reston Hospital.

Serving both adults and children, Tysons Emergency will start with one physician and a support nursing staff on site at all times, but the staffing will increase as more patients come in, Saad says.

Like a standard emergency room, it will be equipped to address life-threatening, critical situations, such as heart attacks and drug overdoses, as well as more routine issues, like a stubbed toe or animal bites.

“We can handle anything that comes in through that door, and we’ll get them to the correct level of care afterwards,” Saad said.

Patients who need to be admitted for a more long-term condition will be transferred by ambulance to Reston Hospital (1850 Town Center Parkway), at no cost. There is also complimentary valet parking with 60 spaces available, saving visitors from the stress of finding a spot themselves, according to Tysons ER Director Kimberly Riley-O’Bannon.

As Tysons’ population has grown, so has the need for medical and emergency services to support those residents.

In February, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine opened a primary care office just to the north in McLean, and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department added a new Scotts Run fire station last fall to serve Tysons East. Plans to relocate and add capacity to Fire Station 29 are now in the works.

Riley-O’Bannon says Tysons Emergency staff have met with all of the fire stations in a 20-mile radius to familiarize them with the new facility, which is expected to shorten travel times for first responders.

“The hope is they’ll come here and be able to drop off their patients and get back out into the community,” Riley-O’Bannon said. “That’s a big selling point for them, so they’re very anxious for us to open.”

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Inova’s new cancer screening and prevention center in Merrifield is the first facility of its kind in the D.C. area, the nonprofit health care system says.

Inova marked the official opening of the Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday (May 4).

First announced in late 2020, the center occupies 24,000 square feet of space in the Inova Schar Cancer Institute at 8081 Innovation Park Drive, according to a news release. Inova says the facility is rare for enabling patients to get prevention, screening, and treatment services in the same place.

“While most people know that early detection saves lives, not everyone knows where to start or has access to quality care,” Dr. Rebecca Kaltman, executive director of the Inova Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center, said. “This new state of the art facility provides greater access to routine cancer screening as well as a comprehensive approach to minimizing cancer risk through techniques including biometric assessments, genetic testing and novel, minimally invasive tools to improve early detection.”

The center was built with a $20 million donation from Paul and Linda Saville. Paul Saville is the president and CEO of the Reston-based construction company NVR Inc.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., as of 2020, below cardiovascular diseases and right above COVID-19.

With health concerns and capacity limitations keeping many people away from hospitals and doctors’ offices, the pandemic led to nearly 22 million cancer screenings getting canceled or skipped between June 2020 and March 2021, the American Cancer Society reported in September.

More recently, health care workers across the country say the severity of cancer cases coming in has increased, particularly among people of color.

“We hope that by providing our neighbors with accessible, multidisciplinary screening and prevention services and a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach, we will help our community get back on track with their health and cure more cancers through early detection and intervention,” Inova Schar Cancer Institute President Dr. John Deeken said.

Appointments at the Saville center can be scheduled online or by calling 571-472-4724. A referral isn’t necessary to receive services, according to the press release.

The center will host a free cancer screening and prevention fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 11. Expected to become an annual occurrence, the event will feature free cancer screenings and information sessions with medical staff as well as food trucks, entertainment, kids’ activities, healthy cooking demonstrations, and more.

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Supreme Court (via SCOTUS)

News that the Supreme Court plans to overturn its landmark 1973 abortion-rights Roe v. Wade decision prompted a rush of support to at least one Fairfax County area abortion clinic and expressions of concern from many legislators representing the area.

The Supreme Court confirmed that a leaked draft opinion published on Monday (May 2) by Politico is authentic, adding that the document does not represent the “final position on any member on issues in the case.”

While the decision isn’t final, it’s already drawing cheers from abortion opponents and horror from reproductive justice advocates, who say a Roe v. Wade reversal will be particularly harmful for low-income people, people of color and other marginalized groups.

“If true, this opinion would be an all-out assault on a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health,” U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) said on Facebook. “I’m doing everything in my power to fight for the right to have an abortion.”

The Falls Church Healthcare Center has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer, development director Mike Scheinberg said.

The private medical clinic provides abortions, gynecology and obstetrics services, counseling, and more. Less than 10% of the clinic’s patients come from out of state, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the health center likely would serve more such patients in the future, he said.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is going to adversely [impact] mostly individuals who are pregnant people of color and those…who are not in great financial state,” Scheinberg said. “It discriminates against the poor.”

He said the possibility of curtailing abortion rights comes as little surprise, as many states, including Virginia, have put obstacles in place to limit access. The Commonwealth started requiring ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods in 2012, but the General Assembly repealed those measures in 2020.

Still, he said advocates are monitoring recent bills in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly.

“It’s unknown what will happen considering that our governor is a staunch opponent of abortion access,” Scheinberg said. Read More

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A rendering of a veterinary hospital that has been proposed in Chantilly (via Fairfax County)

A veterinary hospital could take up a one-acre vacant site at 4700 Centreville Road, right next to the Westone Plaza shopping center in Chantilly.

A one-story building with 3,200-square-feet is planned on the largely wooded area, along with 41 spaces for surface parking. Access to the site would be provided through the existing shopping center.

A public hearing on the application before the Fairfax County Planning Commission was deferred from this past Wednesday (April 20) to April 27.

County staff encouraged the applicant to ensure that a missing trail link between Poplar Tree Road and Stonecroft Road is added. Staff asked the applicant to build the missing connection to complete the trail system in this area.

Although a hospital is proposed, the applicant noted in submission materials that the building could be used for other purposes “to respond to market demand as needed.” Other options include retail, offices, rental services, an instruction center, or a private school.

In an April 7 report, staff noted that other possible uses “complement the existing uses in the shopping center.”

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