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Written opinion on hospital proposal is released

December 23, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A planned hospital that would connect to Robinwood Medical Center is the "highest and best use" for the property off Robinwood Drive, according a written opinion by the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The opinion states the proposed hospital would have no adverse affect on surrounding homes, as argued by some property owners.

"Placement of a hospital on the subject property will not result in a disruption of citizens' quiet enjoyment of their homes and will not result in a decline of property values in the immediate area," the opinion states.

"The proposal does not appear to be incompatible with the neighborhood when considered as a whole," it states.

The opinion, signed Dec. 21 by board Chair Clint Wiley, backs the decision the appeals board made earlier this month in favor of requests for zoning modifications made by Washington County Health System.

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The health system has proposed building a 502,200-square-foot hospital with 267 beds on Medical Campus Drive.

The health system asked the appeals board to waive setback requirements to allow a hospital with a helipad and ambulances, and allow a taller building than the county's zoning ordinance allows.

The $230 million hospital would be five stories and 80 feet high.

The opinion addresses arguments made by those opposed to a hospital at the site. One of the arguments was that a 1991 special exception to build Robinwood Medical Center prohibited a hospital from being built on the property.

The appeals board said in the opinion that had the 1991 decision ruled out a hospital, "it certainly could have set forth that prohibition expressly and unambiguously."

The opinion states that residents' concerns that roads near the proposed hospital are inadequate to serve the facility and homes in the area are "without merit."

"While it is true that road improvements are required in the neighborhood, those improvements are needed regardless of the hospital's establishment on the subject property," the opinion states.

The Washington County Planning Commission still must review and vote on the hospital's site plan. Planning Director Michael Thompson said earlier this month the site plan might reach the planning commission in February.

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