New hospital under fire at joint meeting of commissioners, planners

March 13, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Residents opposing the construction of a hospital on Robinwood Drive went on the offensive during a Monday night joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and Washington County Planning Commission.

Most of the people who spoke agreed that a new hospital is needed. They basically disagreed with officials on the proposed location.

Robert Hatch said he thought the hospital's construction would ruin the existing natural habitat in that area. Government officials in favor of the hospital have used Gestapo-like tactics to bully the opposition, he said.

"I implore you to consider an enhanced medical center within the city," he said.

A new hospital near Robinwood Drive would cause accessibility problems to people who can't afford transportation, he said.

Chuck Hongell said the Robinwood Drive neighborhood was intended for residential use. As a result, the streets could not support an influx of emergency vehicles if a hospital were built there, he said.


He also said low-flying medical helicopters would disrupt the neighborhood's tranquility.

Gordon Bartels of Mulberry Street said the hospital's construction would violate zoning laws.

In 1991, officials promised that additions wouldn't be made to the existing medical center on Robinwood Drive, he said. The construction of a hospital would break that pledge.

Stephen T. Goodrich, Washington County's chief planner, said construction of the hospital on Robinwood Drive is ready to begin. Outside influences, however, have held things up, he said.

Goodrich did not specifically mention an appeal that Bartels and four other people have filed in a state court to halt the construction as one of those outside influences.

The meeting was still in progress at 10:30 p.m. Monday.

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