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Freehold Township Planning Board approves addition to hospital

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Members of the Freehold Township Planning Board have granted site plan approval and variance relief to the administrators of CentraState Medical Center to build an addition to the hospital.

The medical center is located on West Main Street (Route 537).

Representatives of the medical center appeared before the board on Jan. 16 in the municipal building to present plans for a one-story, 8-700-square-foot addition on the north side (rear) of the hospital to upgrade and consolidate the existing cardiac catheter laboratory and treatment center.

Variance relief was requested for building materials that were proposed on the roof to shield mechanical units from view.

Attorney Martin Pfleger represented the application and presented testimony from CentraState Medical Center Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas W. Scott, traffic consultant Scott Kennel, engineer Eric Rundstrom, and architect Suzanne Brown.

Scott testified the proposed addition is a permitted use in the hospital zone and he said there would not be any direct public access to the new space except in the case of an emergency.

Under questioning from Pfleger, Scott said the equipment in the hospital’s cardiac catherization laboratory and interventional radiology laboratory is aging. He said the existing rooms would not accommodate new equipment.

Scott said if the current equipment could be replaced at its present location, the replacement procedure would necessitate a three- to four-month shutdown of the laboratories. He said a shutdown of that length would not be acceptable to CentraState administrators.

Given those issues, he said hospital administrators are proposing to create a new three-room suite with new equipment. During construction of the addition, the current laboratories will remain in use and all services will continue to be provided.

The existing rooms will eventually be vacated and will become storage space and will, in Scott’s words, “allow us to de-camp some cluttered spaces” elsewhere in the hospital.

During his testimony, Rundstrom, the engineer, said the goal in constructing the addition was to minimize new impervious surface on the site. Five parking spaces will be lost as a result of construction, but there will still be a surplus of 230 parking spaces at the hospital, he said. The addition will not be visible from West Main Street.

Brown, the architect, provided testimony about the rooftop equipment and described how it would be screened from view. She said the screen would serve to mute sound coming from the equipment.

Kennel, the traffic consultant, said the planned modifications to the hospital would not be a detriment to the property or to the movement of vehicles. He said no new employees would be hired as a result of the construction of the addition and therefore, no new traffic would be generated.

A motion was made to approve the CentraState Medical Center application for the building addition and a unanimous voice vote by the board members signaled their approval of the motion.

Prior to hearing the CentraState Medical Center application, the board held its 2020 reorganization meeting.

Richard Gatto was elected by his fellow board members to serve as chairman for 2020. Robert Kash was elected to serve as vice chairman. Robert Shortmeyer was elected to serve as secretary.

Gatto recognized Shortmeyer, who is serving his 30th year on the Planning Board.

Board members appointed Roger J. McLaughlin to serve as the panel’s attorney for 2020. McLaughlin’s appointment marks the first time in 40 years that Frank Accisano will not serve as the Planning Board attorney.

During a meeting in December, the board members recognized Accisano for “his 40 years of dedication and professionalism in service to this board” as he prepared to step away from the position.

Gatto, who chaired the board during 2019, spoke about Accisano’s personal and professional achievements and said, “On a personal note, it has been a tremendous asset to me to be able to ask Frank for advice, to express my thoughts openly and to have 100% confidence in his response and legal guidance.”

Accisano, a native of Freehold, has been admitted to the New Jersey State Bar Association for more than 50 years. He served as a municipal court judge in Freehold Borough and Allentown, and as township attorney in Howell, according to the board.

Board members appointed Paul Phillips, of the firm Phillips Preiss Grygiel Leheny and Hughes, and Thomas A. Thomas, of the firm Thomas Planning Associates, as planning consultants.

Kate Keller, of the firm Phillips Preiss Grygiel Leheny and Hughes, represents the firm at board meetings.

Finally, board members appointed Township Engineer Timothy White to continue to serve as the board’s engineer.

The Planning Board members for 2020 are Gatto, Kash, Shortmeyer, Mayor Lester Preston, Township Committeeman Thomas Cook (mayor’s designee), Township Committeeman Anthony Ammiano, Margaret Jahn, John Bazzurro, Leon Bruno, Patrick Coburn, Apryl Kurtz (Alternate 1), Kevin Asadi (Alternate 2) and Jason Levy (Alternate 3).

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