Health care district formally announces lawsuit to block new Sutter hospital

HEALDSBURG -- The North Sonoma County Healthcare District tonight at its board meeting formally announced its lawsuit to stop development of Sutter Health’s proposed new hospital next to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

The health care district, which oversees operations at Healdsburg District Hospital, is the lead plaintiff among a group that opposes Sutter’s new, 82-bed hospital on the grounds that the environmental impact report approved by Sonoma County was “flawed and fragmented.”

“All parties of the suit believe there are serious flaws and problems with the project’s approval and its associated environmental documents,” said health care district counsel William Arnone, reading from a statement issued at the meeting. “The issues encompass General Plan consistency, compliance with County of Sonoma codes, confusion regarding the size and scope of the project, inconsistencies in how environmental and socioeconomic impacts are assessed, conflicts with locating the use outside of the city [of Santa Rosa] and more.”

Joining the health care district in the suit is Palm Drive Healthcare District, which oversees operations at Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol; the California Nurses Association; and a San Rafael-based anti-sprawl group, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund.

Sonoma County and the Board of Supervisors are listed as defendants, and Sutter as a party of interest. However, Sutter will foot most of the cost in defending the hospital plan.

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