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Hospital officials file to change zoning language

November 30, 1999|By ERIN JULIUS

True to their word, Washington County Health System officials filed to change zoning language Tuesday.

The ordinance is in response to an appeal filed by five residents who maintain that moving Washington County Hospital from East Antietam Street to Robinwood Drive would pose traffic and public safety issues.

Eight residents originally appealed zoning variances that the county approved for the project. A Washington County circuit judge upheld the variances, but five residents appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. The other three appellants dropped out of the case.

During a press conference two weeks ago, health system officials said they would pursue talks with county government to strengthen zoning regulations on where hospitals may be located.

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The Washington County Endowment Development Company Inc., is listed as the property owner on the ordinance amendment application. The Endowment Fund is an investment and real estate arm of Washington County Health System, which owns Washington County Hospital.

The ordinance amendment application will be heard March 12 in front of the planning commission and the Board of County Commissioners, said Mike Thompson, director of planning and community development.

The ordinance deals with Article 8, Section 8.0 Residential, Suburban District in Washington County's zoning ordinance.

Current language in the ordinance states that the purpose of the residential, suburban district is to provide for smaller lot sizes for single and two-family dwellings. The amendment proposes that the district also allow "for a medical campus."

The amendment also proposes additional language for Article 8, Section 8.4 in the zoning ordinance, which deals with height regulations.

James P. Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, said he believes the ordinance amendment would "substantially strengthen our case."

"We need to do away with frivolous roadblocks," Hamill said.

William C. Wantz, attorney for the five residents, declined to comment because he had not reviewed the ordinance amendment application.

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