A business that buys blood from donors cleared the first hurdle to set up shop at the northwest corner of 59th and Kings avenues despite neighborhood concerns about traffic and the potential clientele.
Now it is up to the City Council to make the final decision on Biolife Plasma Service Center’s request to rezone the vacant site to allow for the 16,692-square-foot business. It would be the only plasma center in north Glendale, according to staff.
“We are FDA-regulated,” said Cristin Frei, BioLife lease manager at a recent Planning Commission hearing. “Our plasma center is audited regularly.”
BioLife collects plasma from donors and process it into a variety of plasma-based therapies, according to a city staff report. The company operates plasma centers in 24 states and Austria, according to its website.
The center with 72 donor beds is proposed to open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. And employ 50 to 60 people. BioLife anticipates 1,000 to 2,000 plasma donors will visit the site on a weekly basis.
Commissioner Gary Hirsch , citing letters he received from neighbors, asked about the type of donors the center takes and how they would they be documented.
“The majority will come within a 7-mile radius of the location,” Ms. Frei said. “Those who donate with us is a lot like you and me. It’s business professionals, moms and dads and college students. As you look around the room, these are the people you will see at our center.”
She said donors must have government-issued identification and proof of address. Homeless individuals and transients are rejected for donation, she said.
She said potential donors undergo a physical, lab tests and are screen for drug abuse such as needle tracks. Once a person is accepted, a yearly physical is required, she added.
She said people would be able to donate blood up to twice a week, 24 hours in between each donation. It would take about an hour to get a person in and out, she said. Appointments are required and donors are paid by a pre-paid credit card.
“We understand the concerns of the community,” she said. “We take that issue very seriously.”
The 11 residents living near the site, all opposed the business at the hearing.
Some point to the Social Security office on Kings Avenue and the Goodwill store at 61st Avenue and Bell Road for already attracting questionable people into their neighborhood and allowing for this business would make it worse, they claim.
BILL Hutsel said he objected to the Goodwill when it came to his neighborhood because of the different types of people such as transients that it attracts. Traffic is another concern for the 30-plus year resident.
“I have grandchildren who play outside in the front yard,” he said. “And to have people come into the area for other reasons than to visit people or participate in a neighborhood event concerns me.”
Jarvi Brown-Harty disputed that BioLife’s facility will be regulated. She said she has researched the proposed business and it is not a medical or clinical facility and as such it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Rather, she said it is a “draw and mail” facility.
She said she could not find a state, county or federal agency that regulates a draw-and-mail facility, which can open up anywhere in the city.
“Everybody is trying to get into Glendale” she said. “There is money in blood.”
Niki Mozart said she has experience with plasma centers, having managed one for 10 years in south Phoenix and seen the types of donors that come in.
“I don’t see why it needs to be so close to our neighborhood,” she said.
Patricia Mick agreed.
“It will torture our neighborhood,” she said. “We have enough undesirables as it is already.”
Others say the business will draw more traffic into their area and affect safety.
“It’s pretty obvious nobody wants the facility on that lot,” said Tom Foy, who lives about four houses away from the location. “I think this is the wrong location.”
Joe Cirone with Rick Engineering Co., the applicant, said they propose to make roadway improvements, which would enhance safety for residents. And, he said it was his opinion that a majority of the traffic to and from the facility would take Bell Road, a major arterial with a posted 40 mph speed limit instead of Kings Avenue, a residential street with a 25 mph limit.
And “we are highly regulated by the FDA,” said David Taufatofua, who manages a BioLife center in Utah.
He also touted the company’s involvement with the community. He said the company sponsors the five high schools near the site in their activities such as football or band