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Extension of site plan approval sought for planned Havre de Grace medical campus

A draft site plan for the proposed medical campus and hospital in Havre de Grace as it was shown to the public in 2012.
A draft site plan for the proposed medical campus and hospital in Havre de Grace as it was shown to the public in 2012. (Record file photo / Baltimore Sun)

Plans for a new hospital and medical campus at I-95 and Route 155 interchange in Havre de Grace have been on hold but they haven't been abandoned.

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health proposed the development in 2012 but then put it on the shelf because of uncertainty over the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act.

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Despite the delay, the nonprofit organization, which operates Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace and Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, has continued to request annual extensions for the site plan the city approved nearly three years ago and has done so again.

The latest extension request will be the subject of a hearing before the Havre de Grace Planning Commission at 7 p.m. this Monday at City Hall.

If approved, it would be the third site plan approval extension, Planning Director Neal Mills said.

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The hospital can extend its approval with the planning commission for 10 years, but it must request that extension one year at a time, Mills said.

"It's within our code that the site approval is only good for one year," Mills explained.

Mills said Upper Chesapeake officials are expected to attend Monday's hearing and noted the public is welcome.

The plan Upper Chesapeake submitted for the 97-acre site it owns near the interchange included up to 20 buildings, encompassing about 500,000 square feet, plus a new hospital to replace Harford Memorial, a hotel and some retail. When the plan was approved by the city on Jan. 14, 2013, Upper Chesapeake said it hoped to break ground in 2016.

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A few months later, however, Upper Chesapeake president and CEO Lyle Sheldon said they had decided to take a "wait and see" approach until they could gauge the impact of changes in the health care industry, in particular from the AFA.

"Since the original submission, there have been a lot of changes in how health care should be delivered in order to enhance patient care and outcomes and lower total cost," Upper Chesapeake spokesperson Martha Mallonee said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "We have kept our plans on a 'rolling hold' since then and these annual updates are routine."

"While we have a bit more clarity today on what changes we may need to make to the original plan, we continue to review options and don't expect to have a firm, approved direction until next year," she said.

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