Rezoning approved for proposed medical facility

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Three parcels of land located along Prushnok Drive were approved for rezoning for a proposed medical facility Wednesday at a special Punxsutawney Borough Council meeting.

Council first held a public hearing regarding the proposed change in zoning from industrial to town center commercial on Prushnok Drive, where Primary Health Network (PHN) proposed to construct the new, three-story medical facility.

"I just want everyone to know that I'm grateful for the jobs that will be created by this medical facility," said Larry Chenoga, Punxsutawney Borough Council president.

Chenoga said he doesn't want this facility to interfere in any way with the Punxsutawney Area Hospital.

"I'll be keeping a close eye on what is going on, and under no circumstances will I put up with anything that interferes with our hospital," Chenoga said, adding that Punxsutawney Area Hospital has always been an important part of the local community.

"It always has been, and it always will be," he said.

John D. Laeng, chief executive officer of Primary Health Network (PHN) in Sharon, said it was invited to come into town by the hospital and work with some of the medical groups.

"We've asked Dan Blough, CEO Punxsutawney Area Hospital, to be on our board of directors at PHN which he has agreed to do so," said Laeng, adding that PHN has agreed to share information with the hospital on joint projects and programs.

"That's generally how we proceed when we develop a site," he said. "We're looking forward to having Mr. (Dan) Blough on our board of directors."

Jay Lundy, borough solicitor, said the purpose of the hearing was to allow the public the opportunity to speak for or against the rezoning of three parcels on Prushnok Drive.

Lundy said two of the parcels were zoned highway commercial and the other was zoned Industrial and all of them will become town center commercial.

Following the public hearing council voted in a special meeting to approve the zoning changes 4-0 with Chenoga, Mike Porada, William Spencer and Michelle Lorenzo voted yes. Jaime Sherry, Eric Story and Toby Santik were absent.

Laeng said following the vote, the reason PHN needed the zoning changed was because it is building a three story building which required them to have different elevations that wasn't permitted under code in industrial.

"It's going to be 45,000 square feet and we needed to have adequate parking," he said. "There are some significant regulations that we have to adhere to."

Drew Pierce, PHN chief financial officer, said the new facility will be located behind the Jefferson County Assistance Office.

"The one requirement we had was that we wanted to be in the borough," Pierce said. "It was very hard to come by because parking is always an issue."

Laeng said it's hard to find seven acres of land that are clean like this.

"Once we complete all of our legal documents, we plan on breaking ground in September," Laeng said.