Medical City Plano’s plans to expand a four-story tower to eight stories and move its three helipads from ground level to the building’s roof will proceed despite concerns from nearby neighbors.

Plano City Council voted 6-1 at its Sept. 20 meeting in favor of the hospital’s expansion plans. Council Member Kayci Prince abstained from the discussion and vote. Council member Shelby Williams voted against the rezoning case, saying he had hoped more time could be spent considering creative alternatives.

“I think that most of this plan is positive. It’s good. It’s needed,” he said. “But I don’t believe that it’s an all-or-nothing equation.”

The rezoning approval came after a 2-5 failed vote to table a decision until the council’s October meeting to give the hospital and residents more time to find a better solution.

Medical City Plano is the fifth-largest hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the only Level 1 trauma hospital in Collin County, according to a presentation by hospital CEO Jyric Sims. That trauma designation means the hospital at Coit Road and 15th Street is able to treat the most critical patients.

Plans include increasing inpatient beds and adding two parking garages and three medical office buildings. Much of the discussion during the meeting centered on the plans to add four more stories to an existing tower to increase capacity for burn, trauma and critical care patients.

“We are, as a hospital, just physically out of space,” Sims told the council. “Right now as we sit here today we have 27 patients waiting in our emergency room" for a bed to open so they can be admitted.

The building targeted for expansion is located within 82 feet of the residential area, which does not provide enough transition “to protect the quality of life for the existing adjacent neighborhoods,” according to city planning documents.

One study showed how the proposed eight-story building would cast a long shadow over the nearby apartments, condominiums and homes late in the day. Another study showed how noise from the helicopters would increase in duration and intensity with the landing sites on the roof. The current location has the building serving as a buffer between the helipads and the neighborhood. But the helicopters are still noisy, neighbors said.

“They promised that those helicopters were going to fly in a north-south pattern right along Coit Road,” said Judy Malandruccolo, president of the nearby Park Bluff Condominiums HOA. “They don’t. They fly directly over our property.”

Experts representing the nearby Aspen Court Apartments shared alternative plans they crafted to put the helipads on a new building farther away from residents. But hospital officials said those plans were not workable for many reasons, one being the 20-plus months of construction would limit access to the hospital’s emergency room.

The hospital had proposed constructing the eight-story building in 2018 but scaled back plans at that time to four stories due to the effects on nearby neighbors, according to discussion at the meeting.

Council Member Anthony Ricciardelli made the motion to table the vote and give the hospital and residents more time to talk. But after his motion failed, he said he would vote to support the hospital’s expansion.

“I am deeply sympathetic to the concerns of the neighbors and the impact this will have,” he said. “At the end of the day, saving lives is the overriding consideration.”