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Centegra warns Crystal Lake about fallout if Mercyhealth loses lawsuit

Attorney: City should request 'security' if microhospital isn't finished

CRYSTAL LAKE – An attorney for Centegra Health System showed up Wednesday night to a meeting of the Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission, where Mercyhealth detailed plans for a new microhospital on Route 31.

Attorney Thomas Zanck pointed the commission’s attention to a lawsuit filed in July by Advocate Health and Centegra that seeks to overturn a decision by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, which granted Mercyhealth a certificate of need for the microhospital.

Centegra and Advocate argue in the lawsuit that review board members failed to follow their own rules and abused their discretion when they approved the 13-bed hospital. Centegra alleges that the board failed to follow its requirement that hospitals have at least 100 beds. The next court date for the case is Feb. 21.

Zanck cautioned the commission and city about proceeding with plans, and he asked for the city to include additional conditions on any approvals that might be given to Mercyhealth.

If the city were to grant Mercyhealth the necessary approvals to build the microhospital and medical offices, and if Mercyhealth went ahead with construction – then lost the court case – Zanck said it could put the city in a bad spot.

“The question is, who loses if Mercy loses in the litigation?” Zanck said to the commission.

He asked that there be “some sort of security” posted by Mercyhealth as a condition of a special use permit to guarantee that there are funds for the city to remediate the project if a semi-finished building is left on the 18-acre site at the southeast corner of Route 31 and Three Oaks Road.

But that matter is out of the purview of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said Chairman Tom Hayden and Commissioner Dave Goss, who encouraged Zanck to attend the next meeting Mercyhealth will have with the city – likely a City Council meeting Jan. 16.

Hayden referred to state statutes that allow the city to demolish the building and return it to its previous state if such a scenario were to happen, and the owner of the property would pay those fees. Goss also noted that it’s a preliminary plan at this stage, and nothing is final after these meetings.

The 111,346-square-foot proposed hospital would house 11 medical-surgical beds, two intensive care beds, a comprehensive emergency room, two operating rooms, full-service radiology imaging, a laboratory and a pharmacy. The 39,922-square-foot office building, which would be connected to the hospital, would have 42 examination rooms.

Much of the traffic to the site would be between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., representatives for Mercyhealth said at the meeting.

Although a lawsuit is hanging over the project, traffic and road alignment discussions took up much of the meeting. All commissioners were fond of the building’s design, but they were split on the ideal traffic pattern surrounding the area.

Mercyhealth officials and the commission discussed at length the traffic problems and poorly functioning intersections that already plague the area. The city has projected adding a traffic light at Tek Drive and Route 31 for more than a decade, and would have to align a road to that intersection through hospital property, which Mercyhealth is opposed to.

A couple of commissioners wanted to stay true to the plan for a traffic light at Tek Drive, but other commissioners and Mercyhealth are confident – based on traffic projections and the proximity to other intersections on Route 31 – that the Illinois Department of Transportation will not allow a light to be installed there.

Dissenting commissioners recommended that the city focus on improvements to Three Oaks Road in collaboration with McHenry County and the village of Cary, as well as Lutter Drive to the east of the Mercyhealth property, and find ways to improve traffic flow near Pauly Toyota and Walmart.

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