BAYONNE, NJ - Following similar actions by Hoboken and Jersey City, the Bayonne city council introduced an ordinance Thursday that would create a hospital zone to ensure that the current site of the Bayonne Medical Center would continue to be used as a hospital should the current hospital operators cease operations.
CarePoint Health, the current owners of the Bayonne Medical Center, announced last year that it would be selling off two of the three hospitals it owns and seeking the new operator for the facility that has delivered healthcare to Bayonne residents for more than a century.
In response to CarePoint’s plans the Bayonne Council established its own hospital authority to guard against the loss of the license should the hospital close. Thursday’s action would further prohibit current or future property owners from using the site for anything other than a medical facility.
While the Jersey City ordinances modeled after the Hoboken ordinance, Bayonne faces a unique situation partly because of the way the property is currently zoned, explained Jay Coffey, Bayonne’s law director.
According to Coffey the property on which Bayonne Medical Center currently stands is comprised of three distinct parcels, each with current zoning that does not require medical uses. One of the three parcels is actually zoned for residential, another commercial, while a third houses the hospital parking garage.
“The proposed ordinance would better delineate the use of these properties and limit is to a hospital use the future,” Coffey said.
While the administration is not directly involved in negotiations with the hospital and a provider, Mayor Jimmy Davis has continued to fight in order to guarantee that Bayonne retains a hospital.
The conflict evolved out of more than a decade of concern over hospital closing. In 2007, Bayonne Medical Center declared bankruptcy and came close to being closed, only to be saved in a last-minute deal with what would later become CarePoint who managed to keep the hospital from closing.
Seeking to prevent the crisis that many stakeholders say would come with the loss of the healthcare giants elected officials have been working overtime to avert closure, including in January when Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop requested and got intervention from the state to monitor the situation.
More recently the Hudson County Board of Freeholders passed a resolution encouraging the Jersey City Council to adopt a zoning ordinance similar to Hoboken’s in order to keep the Christ Hospital property in Jersey City from being developed for non-medical uses, a suggested they heeded at the body’s most recent meeting.
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