Fire chief says height of planned new Havre de Grace hospital won't be a problem

With the potential of having up to seven stories, the new medical center proposed by Upper Chesapeake Health at the I-95 interchange in Havre de Grace would be a fairly tall building, but it would be far from the tallest building in town.

The city has at least three buildings around that same height, Susquehanna Hose Company chief Scott Hurst said Wednesday.

The J.M. Huber storage tower on Juniata Street, as well as the St. John's Towers retirement home on Congress Avenue, are both seven-story buildings, Hurst said.

The Graw apartment building at the end of Revolution Street is six stories and Harford Memorial Hospital is five stories, he said.

Zoning versus plans

Martha Mallonee, spokeswoman for Upper Chesapeake Health, said the nonprofit company is planning for the hospital to have two or three floors, although the zoning being sought by the company would permit a higher building.

The zoning change before the city council, however, allows up to 115 feet or seven floors.

At the most recent city council meeting June 18, Mike Nicolaus, of HKS Architects, the hospital project's design firm, said the hospital building could be up to seven stories tall.

Fire issues

Hurst said the potential height of the Upper Chesapeake project would not pose a problem for his firefighters and the company's equipment.

"Operationally, we do have a 100-foot ladder truck and a 'quint,'" Hurst said, explaining the "quint" is a 75-foot ladder truck.

"We will certainly be able to handle what they are building up there," he said.

Hurst said Susquehanna Hose has not discussed the project with Upper Chesapeake officials yet, but he thinks the new hospital is a great idea.

"Me personally, I think it's much needed, with the way the county's going, the way the city's going," he said.

Council approval

The city council is getting ready to vote on the zoning for a long-discussed mixed-use project at I-95, of which the hospital would be a centerpiece.

A public hearing on the proposal earlier this month drew many residents from the Paddocks at Bulle Rock community, some of whom were concerned about noise, lighting and other nuisance issues.

They generally did not seem opposed to the project as a whole, however.

City officials noted the proposed hospital would still have to go through the planning commission. No site plans have formally been submitted yet, although hospital officials revealed a concept plan for the property at the June 18 meeting.

The next scheduled meeting of the city council is this Monday, July 2.

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