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Upper Chesapeake Health receives extension on proposed Havre de Grace medical campus plan

Site approval was extended for another year for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s new campus near the Route 155 and I-95 interchange in Havre de Grace.
Site approval was extended for another year for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s new campus near the Route 155 and I-95 interchange in Havre de Grace. (AEGIS FILE / Baltimore Sun)

For the third straight year, site approval was extended Monday for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health's proposed medical campus, a member of the Havre de Grace Planning Commission said.

Five members of the seven-member group voted to let Upper Chesapeake continue to delay construction on a 97-acre site off Route 155, near I-95, commission member Robin Shane said.

Upper Chesapeake leaders again cited uncertainty over the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act in their decision to request a delay in site approval, she said.

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In 2012, Upper Chesapeake received approval from the city to develop the property for a complex that would include a new hospital to replace the aging Harford Memorial Hospital in downtown Havre de Grace, medical offices and outpatient facilities, a hotel and retail.

At the time, officials with the non-profit, which is part of the University Medical System, said they expected to break ground by 2016. Within months, however, the project was put on hold indefinitely, with Upper Chesapeake's president citing the economic uncertainty over the Affordable Health Care act, which was just beginning to be implemented, and its impact on health care providers.

The site plan approval can be extended by the planning commission for up to 10 years, but Upper Chesapeake officials must request that extension one year at a time.

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Shane noted the city and state have approved plans for the hospital's sewage pumping station and water tower at the new campus, as there is a sewer connection behind the Paddocks area of the Bulle Rock development.

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She also said "it's all about figuring out how this is going to be paid for," whether it is through more hospital beds at the proposed new hospital or other facilities proposed for the site.

Hospital leaders have also addressed new state stormwater management regulations in their proposed site plan, although Shane said that would still need to be reviewed by the planning commission.

She nevertheless said she feels confident about the hospital moving forward and said commission members have not had any serious concerns about it yet.

"It's vital still," Shane said about the project.

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