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Crowd is divided over hospital relocation plan

Hospital officials take their case to the public

Hospital officials take their case to the public

October 20, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN

daniels@herald-mail.com

Tom Renwick lives within walking distance of Robinwood Medical Center and he hopes the Washington County Health System will be able to build a new hospital near the center off Robinwood Drive.

"I'm for it 100 percent," Renwick said. "It's something that would help me and my family considerably."

Ron Horn, who also lives within walking distance of Robinwood and the proposed hospital, is bracing himself for the impact the facility would have on his neighborhood. He's hopeful the proposal will fail.

"I don't agree with the hospital coming here - the noise, the traffic " Horn said. "Who's going to pay for all those road improvements?"

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Renwick and Horn were among a crowd of 100 to 150 people who attended a public meeting Wednesday night on the hospital's plans to build a $233 million, 502,608-square-foot hospital at the Robinwood Drive site.

Hospital officials are scheduled to file a Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals request today to build the new facility, and Washington County Health System President and CEO James Hamill said he expects to defend the hospital's case sometime next month.

Hamill said he did not seek to shift anyone's opinion about the hospital's plans but rather aimed to answer outstanding questions residents have about the plans. The hospital did provide petition sheets for residents to sign in favor of the plans.

"I think we're finding that there's a lot of folks that have questions about things that have been raised, and we're just trying to get answers for them," Hamill said.

The hospital needs permission from Washington County to build the facility, to allow helicopters and ambulances to service it, and to exceed the county's 35-foot building height with the proposed five-story, 80-foot structure.

A variance from side-yard setback requirements is also needed in order to build the hospital next to and connected with the medical center.

"The community's growing, and the need's there, and we really have to address it," Hamill told the audience. "We have a real need to fix this hospital, we have to move on with this."

The hospital also needs permission from the City of Hagerstown to transfer some of its sewer capacity from its Antietam Street site to Robinwood, though earlier this month a proposal was announced that would allow the hospital to draw its needed capacity from the city. In return, the city would be able to draw an equal amount of capacity from the county's treatment plant. That deal is pending review by the city.

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