A Havre de Grace Planning Commission hearing to review the most recent site plan for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s planned medical center and psychiatric hospital was abruptly canceled Monday at the request of Upper Chesapeake Health.
A Havre de Grace Planning Commission hearing to review the most recent site plan for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s planned medical center and psychiatric hospital was abruptly canceled Monday at the request of Upper Chesapeake Health. (Aegis file/BSMG)

A Havre de Grace Planning Commission hearing to review the most recent site plan for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health's planned medical center and psychiatric hospital was abruptly canceled at the request of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, a city government spokesperson said.

The hearing had been scheduled for early Monday evening at City Hall; however, a note was posted on the door that it was postponed.

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In a written statement issued late Tuesday afternoon, Adam Rybczynski, digital marketing strategist for the city, wrote: "On Monday morning, April 9, the City of Havre de Grace was informed by counsel representing University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health that UCH was formally withdrawing their application for site plan approval of the proposed freestanding medical facility and psychiatric hospital on Bulle Rock Parkway south of MD Route 155. Both the Administration and Planning Department staff were surprised at the last minute cancellation, in light of the efforts put forth by the City in expediting a hearing to meet the timeline proposed by UCH."

"As community leaders, our obligation is to seek the best solutions and outcomes for our residents and business community," the statement continued. "From the City's perspective, the preferred outcome of this project is the construction of a full service general hospital that will continue UCH's tradition of serving the City of Havre de Grace and the surrounding region, as originally promised by UCH. We also recognize that the UCH Vision 2020 plan no longer supports a full service General Hospital for Havre de Grace."

Martha Mallonee, Upper Chesapeake director of corporate communications, marketing and public relations, could not provide additional comment Thursday, other than what was already posted online.

Upper Chesapeake Health posted a statement on its Vision 2020 website: "The University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health has formally withdrawn its revised site plan review scheduled for Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. with the City of Havre de Grace Planning Commission," the statement read. "Despite considerable efforts to reach agreement with the City of Havre de Grace Planning Department, we have been unsuccessful in securing an agreement on the required conditions being placed on our project and have made the decision to formally withdraw our site plan from further review at this time. We maintain an approved site plan with the City of Havre de Grace which was approved on January 29, 2018. UM UCH remains committed to the Havre de Grace community and the Harford County community overall in the delivery of high quality, comprehensive health care."

Havre de Grace officials, echoing some residents, have continued to express concerns about the loss of their full-service Harford Memorial Hospital once the planned new medical center opens. The estimated cost of the medical center and 50-bed psychiatric hospital is $118 million.

The city's statement pointed out that the city government addressed its concerns about the project and the Harford Memorial closure through a series of zoning code amendments approved in February and then required submission of a revised site plan to the planning commission.

"When UCH sought a very aggressive timeline, which included having their application heard before the Planning Commission on Monday night, April 9, we agreed to meet their requirements and worked diligently toward that goal," the statement continued. "In the spirit of cooperation, our professional staff met with representatives from UCH's development team several times in the preceding weeks to offer comments and suggestions on the revised site plan to ensure that the requirements of the Zoning Code were met prior to UCH's formal submission. City staff characterized the meetings as collaborative and productive in nature and vital to ensuring that UCH's timeline could be achieved."

"The Mayor and a majority of Council members have continued to support a policy position of seeking a small full service general hospital to serve our citizens," the statement continued. "At no point has this policy infringed upon the city's commitment to UCH's timeline or our obligation to review and forward recommendations to the Planning Commission in a timely manner. We have received great cooperation from UCH's representatives in our recent meetings, with City staff believing that all open concerns and questions had been resolved or answered. We were fully prepared for a positive and productive hearing before the Planning Commission on Monday night, with the ability for the public to participate in an open forum.

"This administration continues to stand ready and willing to work together with UCH toward the goal of receiving site plan approval for their current proposal. We invite UCH to rejoin us at the table to continue working collaboratively towards meeting the medical needs of the City of Havre de Grace and the adjoining regions of Harford and Cecil [counties]"



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.
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