Opponents challenge zoning of new abortion facilty

Ambulatory surgical center now required by state law

SAN ANTONIO – The zoning of Planned Parenthood’s new ambulatory surgical center was challenged at Wednesday’s meeting of the San Antonio Planning Commission.

The center that’s been fully operational since July in the 2100 block of Babcock Road houses the kind of abortion facility now required by law.

But Tim Barker, who lives close by, said it should not have been allowed to open under its current zoning of C-1 Light Commercial, because of the nearby neighborhood.

“Any ambulatory surgical facility shouldn’t be able to locate in the area because it’s a major commercial business,” Barker said. “It doesn’t allow for the type of buffer zone that residential neighborhoods should have.”

But Ximena Copa-Wiggins, a spokeswoman for the city’s development services department, said the 22,000 square-foot building already was zoned C-1 prior to 2010, when the 5,000 square-foot limit was imposed.

She said Planned Parenthood agreed not to expand the facility, but rather work within the existing space. 

Copa-Wiggins also said the building always served a medical purpose.

Instead of changing its zoning designation, the planning commission voted to refer the issue to its technical advisory commission for a definition of ambulatory surgical center to include in the city’s Unified Development Code. The UDC governs everything from historic preservation to new construction.

“When you look at the UDC, there is no definition for that. We believe it is closely aligned with a clinic, and a clinic is allowed under C-1,” said Rod Sanchez, director of development services. “The planning commission agreed with us.”

Copa-Wiggins said the technical advisory committee will return to the planning commission with its recommendation. If approved, she said the City Council could vote by the end of the year.