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Watchdog group appeals hospital site plan approval

March 14, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY

A watchdog group has formally appealed the site-plan approval given to a proposed Washington County Hospital on Robinwood Drive.

Eight members of the group Citizens for Responsible Health Care filed their appeal with the county Wednesday.

The planning commission approved the site plan 5-0 on Feb. 6.

In January, the same eight members of the group - J. Michael Nye, Ronald L. Horn, Charles B. Hongell, Gary C. Miller, Gordon A. Bartels, Janet E. Bartels, Sally R. Hatch and Robert C. Hatch - challenged two variances granted by the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The variance challenges are pending in Washington County Circuit Court.

The board of zoning appeals approved the variances by a 4-1 vote Dec. 7.

One variance allows the new hospital building to connect to the existing Robinwood Medical Center. The other lets helicopters and ambulances serve the new hospital and allows the building to be taller than the zoning ordinance permits.

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Last week's site-plan challenge alleges that the planning commission's approval in February was an "administrative error" because "several conditions mandated by the Board of Zoning Appeals" were not met.

The complaint does not name the conditions, but Nye, the group's spokesman, on Monday identified water and sewer services and road improvements as the major ones.

The board of zoning appeals' written decision in December says, "Water and sewer availability would need to be confirmed before any site plan would be approved."

In February, when the site plan was approved, planning commission member James F. Kercheval said the city and the hospital had agreed "in concept" to water and sewer service, but had not decided on costs.

Nye alleged Monday that the same uncertainty exists over road improvements needed to serve the new hospital.

At the February planning commission meeting, Gary Rohrer, the county's public works director, spoke at length about road projects planned on and around Dual Highway, Robinwood Drive and Mount Aetna Road.

James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, the hospital's parent company, said in January that Nye is a gadfly who, with his group, is trying to tie up the project in court and kill it.

"They just don't want it built at Robinwood," Hamill said.

The board of zoning appeals is scheduled to hear Citizens for Responsible Health Care's challenge to the site-plan approval at an April 26 meeting.

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