GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - The Galloway Township Planning Board approved a hospital expansion at Thursday night’s meeting.

The board unanimously approved an expansion to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus. The plan includes a new 34,000-square-foot addition that would be two and a half stories high. There are also plans to improve the current hospital and parking area.

Some of the new features will include a same-day surgery suite with 10 private patient bays, and a post-anesthesia care unit with 22 beds, new cardiac hybrid operating room and two new cardiothoracic operating rooms.

Construction could begin early in 2014 and will take two to three years.

AtlantiCare CEO Lori Herndon said the project is about creating a more modern and efficient method to treat patients.

“We’re very excited to move forward with the project and improve the level of services to the community,” she said.

The board’s main issues were the amount of parking and implementing changes to the intersection at the entrance of the hospital on Jimmie Leeds Road.

Also at Thursday’s meeting the board heard testimony on an application to eliminate the 55-and-older age restriction for a 944-unit complex at the former Blue Heron Pines East championship golf course located on 400 acres off Tilton Road near Pomona Road and Aloe Street.

The property owners, Ole Hansen and Sons Inc., asked the board to remove the age restriction and allow housing for all ages on the site.

The property was approved for senior housing in 2007 and some changes have been made to the design of units and recreation for the $233.2 million complex to accommodate a residential community for all ages.

The change is permissible under a 2009 state law that allows boards to remove age restrictions from complexes that have yet to be built. Atlantic City attorney Steven Nehmad argued to the board the application meets the state law.

But the change is controversial to some residents who worry about the tax impact on the school district.

An Ole Hanson-sponsored report by Richard P. Reading Associates of Princeton suggested the development would add about 2,587 people to the 39,050-person township, including 248 grade-school children and 117 high school-age children.

The application was continued to the next meeting on Sept. 19.

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