Morgan County Hospital Authority Asks Court to Provide Clarity on Zoning Laws

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Ruling could pave the way for sale of former Morgan Memorial Hospital property

May 14, 2020 — More than two years after first approaching Madison city officials regarding the zoning of the former Morgan Memorial Hospital site, the Morgan County Hospital Authority will be filing an action asking the Court to issue a ruling interpreting the zoning laws governing the use of the property.

If granted, the ruling could pave the way for the sale of the site to Flashpoint Recovery, an upscale drug rehabilitation hospital that will bring new jobs and significant economic impact to Madison.

“While we regret this action has become necessary, we’re hopeful it will provide the clarity needed to move forward. After more than two years of back and forth with no progress, we can’t continue to stand idly by and lose yet another opportunity because the city refuses to act,” said Morgan County Hospital Authority Chairman John Moore. “Continuing to spend taxpayer dollars to maintain an aging, underutilized property just doesn’t make sense – especially when we have a responsible buyer ready to make significant investments that will benefit our community.”

Madison’s zoning ordinance allows the Hospital Authority to transfer the property and allow a new owner to continue a hospital use. Madison has issued a letter agreeing that a rehabilitation facility is a hospital use. Unfortunately, the city contradicted this statement in that same letter, making the zoning letter too confusing to utilize.

Despite these facts and the Hospital Authority’s repeated attempts to address city officials’ concerns, the city has refused to issue a corrected zoning letter that would allow the sale to move forward.

A prospective buyer, Flashpoint Recovery, will make new investments in the hospital to deliver medical services that have historically been provided there. Morgan Memorial provided inpatient drug rehabilitation as a core service in the 1990s with the majority of its beds used to provide these services to Medicaid patients. More recently, the hospital has cared for an average of 450 patients a year with a drug or alcohol diagnosis.

“It’s disappointing the city has chosen to create the false narrative that the Hospital Authority is doing “an end around” to circumvent zoning laws. This could not be further from the truth,” said Sarah Burbach, vice chair of the Morgan County Hospital Authority. “From our very first outreach more than two years ago, we have approached our discussions with the city in good faith and with a strong desire to do the right thing for our community. We are hopeful the Court’s decision will allow the sale to move forward in a way that benefits taxpayers and protects the interests of those who live nearby.”

Flashpoint Recovery would provide inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation services to high net worth individuals voluntarily seeking care. Treatment costs are expected to range from $30,000 to $40,000 per patient, per month.

Flashpoint Recovery has committed to investing $3 million to make renovations and additions to the facility. Flashpoint has also agreed to work with the city to develop reasonable but effective requirements for the future sale of the building to ensure continued community friendly use.

Unlike the hospital, Flashpoint Recovery will not be serviced by ambulances or operate an ER that draws traffic at all hours of the day and night. Patients will remain on campus for the duration of their treatment, minimizing traffic and noise in the area. Flashpoint’s purchase promises a safer and more attractive alternative for our community.

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