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City accepts new hospital's preannexation agreement

November 22, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - The City of Hagerstown is preparing to send a letter to the Washington County Health System that says preliminary conditions have been met for water service to be provided to a new hospital off Robinwood Drive.

The health system on Feb. 2 applied for annexation review, then signed and submitted an annexation agreement in late October.

The city council has agreed to accept a preannexation agreement, which does not commit the council to annexing the property but gives it more options if or when bargaining on the matter.

"We are in no obligation to annex," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner explained at the council's workshop meeting Tuesday.

The preannexation agreement is what would commit the health system to offering the hospital land for annexation if it becomes contiguous to city boundaries. Zoning variances for the hospital project are in court, and the county's possible waiver of its sewer allocation fee remains in limbo.

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It is the city council's choice whether to annex a property, which is submitted for consideration by the property owner.

James P. Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, told The Herald-Mail last week that officials are looking forward to breaking ground at the new site in January.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer questioned whether the health system considered maintaining its current hospital on East Antietam Street in addition to the new facility. However, her colleagues said they believe the health system is intent on tearing down the existing structure and using the sale of the land to finance the new project.

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