BERLIN – The Berlin Planning Commission approved minor changes to Atlantic General Hospital’s plans for a new cancer care center this week.
The changes came after officials from the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) informed the hospital of future improvements to the intersection of Route 113 and Old Ocean City Boulevard. Their changes required slight modifications to the site plan for the cancer care center.
“Essentially it’s the same plan it’s just a little smaller,” Steve Engel of Vista Design told the commission on Wednesday.
The commission first approved a site plan for the Atlantic General Hospital Regional Cancer Care Center in July. The facility, which will be located at the intersection of Route 113 and Old Ocean City Boulevard in front of the Berlin Nursing Home, will offer radiation oncology as well as PET and MRI scans, among many other services.
Engel brought the site plan back to the commission Wednesday to get approval to make minor changes on the four-acre parcel to allow for improvements to the nearby intersection. He said that in the next few years, SHA was planning to make a dedicated right turn lane on Old Ocean City Boulevard and to extend the turn lane for vehicles intending to head south on Route 113.
To accommodate those improvements, Engel said the hospital would move the cancer care center back a bit and reduce its size, and its parking lot’s size, slightly. The hospital also eliminated one of two proposed entrances to the facility from Healthway Drive so that the end of the street, where it meets Old Ocean City Boulevard, could be straightened.
Engel said hospital officials were willing to modify the site to accommodate the highway improvements, which they deemed preferable to a roundabout SHA had originally wanted to build to improve traffic flow.
“At one time they were proposing a roundabout,” Engel said, “but the hospital didn’t agree. It didn’t work with emergency vehicles.”
Groundbreaking for the project is planned for July 2017. Hospital officials hope the facility will be complete in early 2018. Once open, the comprehensive cancer care center will serve as a centrally located facility for those being treated for cancer. According to Atlantic General, the current mortality rate for Worcester County and Sussex County residents diagnosed with cancer is nearly 10 percent higher than the Maryland average.