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Hospital won't have to pay for intersection improvements

October 03, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

While the Washington County Hospital must pay for some of the $14.1 million in road improvements that will be needed to accommodate its planned relocation, Washington County is exempting it from helping to pay for intersection improvements, a move Hagerstown's mayor protested Thursday.

Plans call for the hospital to move from its Hagerstown site to north of Robinwood Medical Center outside the city limits.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said Washington County officials should have consulted with the city about the exemptions because they are for Dual Highway's intersections with Mount Aetna Road and Edgewood Drive, both of which are inside the city limits. County officials say the improvements will cost about $1.2 million.

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City and county officials met to talk about the impact of the hospital move but the exemption was never mentioned, Breichner said.

The exemption does not mean the city would have to pick up the cost of the intersection improvements, Breichner said.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said he had no comment on Breichner's remarks except to note that unlike the county, the city does not have an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. The ordinance requires developers to provide information showing adequate road, water, sewage and schools capacity before a project can be approved. Developers must contribute toward any needed improvements.

Not only the hospital, but existing and future property owners will benefit from the improvements, Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said.

"Under proposed revisions to the APFO plan, we would anticipate new growth and development will contribute proportionally to the cost of the improvement from which they benefit," he said.

James Hamill, president of Washington County Health System, the hospital's parent company, said he had no comment on Breichner's remarks.

The county is negotiating with the hospital about its share of the cost of the road improvements, but the hospital is not responsible for the intersection costs, Shoop said.

When the Health System built the Robinwood Medical Center in 1995, it contributed about $1.3 million for road improvements that included Medical Campus Road, Rohrer said.

Rohrer said the promised exemption for the intersection was the result of an agreement struck in about 1996 between the county and the Health System regarding Health System responsibilities should it undertake work in the area in the future. Rohrer said he did not make the decision on the exemption.

The $14.1 million in improvements would include building a connector road between Robinwood Drive and Md. 64 that would bypass the portion of Robinwood Drive between Hagerstown Community College and Md. 64.

The city has asked the Maryland Health Care Commission to deny the hospital's request for a certificate of need, which the hospital must have to make the move.

The city says it is not opposed to hospital improvements but thinks the hospital should tell the community and the state whether the proposed move is cost-effective and needed.

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