FOLEY – The new Medical Overlay District will encourage the development of medical services in north Foley to meet growing needs as the area’s population increases.

The Foley City Council voted to amend the municipal zoning ordinance to establish the district, which is centered around the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center. The hospital is undergoing a $200-million expansion, which will increase its capacity to 142 beds.

Wayne Dyess, Foley executive director of planning and infrastructure, said the new district will help guide the growth of the area as a center for diversified medical services.

“The whole intent here is to take advantage of the new construction of the hospital by tapping into those synergies between the uses,” Dyess said.

He said the new district does not change any existing zoning. It does expand some uses, however, such as allowing medical offices in some areas where offices were not included in previous zoning.

“This would allow them to streamline the process a little bit,” Dyess said. 

He said medical service providers are already expressing an interest in coming into the new district.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from this,” Dyess said. “We’ve had several phone calls and meetings with health care providers and developers that want to take advantage of this.”

Establishing district boundaries, also protects neighborhoods near the hospital, which opened in 1958 and is near several residential areas.

“It does provide some protection as you go west from the hospital to the established neighborhoods,” Dyess said. “Some of those have been there for many, many years. So it does provide some protection for them, but then also back to the east that expands it and tries to encourage more of those medical uses in those areas.”

A Design Alabama study announced in July for Foley recommended the creation of a hospital district in north Foley to encourage the development of medical services in that area.

Uses intended for Medical District Overlay District include hospitals, medical clinics, pharmaceutical businesses, medical technology research and related uses. Other related uses may be located within the hospital or clinic buildings or as independent uses within the overlay district area.