Franklin paves way for new hospital
Franklin Township approved an ordinance that may clear the way for a new hospital building during Monday’s special meeting.
“It’s just opening up the zoning so it includes health care, because we have nothing in there right now that says they can put something like that there,” chairman Jason Frey said.
Representatives from St. Luke’s recently presented a basic sketch of a prospective health care center to Franklin’s planning commission, though no other documents have been submitted.
The supervisors said that a similar ordinance was to be added to the zoning code in the near future, but they decided to pass the overlay ahead of time in case St. Luke’s, or any other health care facility, wishes to begin construction any sooner.
“We’re redoing our zoning right now, and that was going to be put in there, but they just wanted to move forward before we get to that point. It may take us eight or nine months yet before we update our zoning,” vice chairman Robin Cressley said.
Frey said that the ordinance will allow for the construction of health care facilities on plots of land measuring at least 30 acres within the township.
“This actually comes out of West Brunswick Township in Schuylkill County. That’s the basis for it, and I reviewed it and somewhat modified it,” solicitor William Schwab said.
In addition to providing jobs and easy access to emergency medical care, the establishment of a health care facility could also increase property values in the area. Frey said that this a particularly attractive benefit, as the township will lose its elementary school soon, which could adversely affect residents’ property values.
Though no one made any comment on the matter at the special meeting, Frey said that he has heard overwhelmingly positive responses from people in the township in regard to a new hospital.
“I believe it means good things. Hopefully, they’ll decide to build in our township. We’re trying to be business-friendly and do exactly what they ask so we can get that in the township,” Frey said.