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Hospital annexation request draws ire of council member

October 03, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

HARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town City Council members Monday night gave preliminary approval to an annexation of land south of the city which is expected to be the home of a new Jefferson Memorial Hospital, despite concerns from one council member about traffic generated by the project and other issues.

Greenvest L.C., which also is building 950 living units on the property, agreed to donate 30 acres at the site for the new hospital.

Jefferson Memorial Hospital officials have discussed building a new hospital in recent years, saying the current 60-bed hospital at 300 S. Preston St., in Ranson, W.Va., has space limitations and parts of its layout are not conducive to efficient operations.

The 183 acres being proposed for annexation is north of Old Cave Road and is known as the Hayes property. It also is near the Charles Town Bypass, which was built to improve traffic flow around Charles Town, City Council member Matt Ward said Monday night.

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Now a traffic light is being proposed on the bypass at the project site and Ward said he is concerned about potential traffic issues there.

Ward was the only council member to vote against the first reading of the annexation proposal.

Annexation proposals require two readings from the council.

Ward also questioned what would happen if the hospital decides not to build at the site.

Specifically, he wanted to know if that would affect other planned commercial projects on the property.

The 950 living units will consist of town houses, apartments and condominiums, project officials said. Also being planned is about 14 acres set aside for commercial use like restaurants or a day-care facility, project officials said.

Mayor Peggy Smith said she does not think there is any need to worry about the hospital's plans not coming through.

"I think they will do it. I believe what they say. It's probably one of the best things that's ever happened to Charles Town," said council member Randy Breeden.

The hospital is expected to take ownership of the land next year, at which time it will begin construction of physician office space, said Roger M. Eitelman, chief executive officer of West Virginia University Hospitals-East, the organization which operates Jefferson Memorial and City Hospital in Martinsburg.

It will take about seven to 10 years to build a hospital at the site, Eitelman has said.

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