Bel Air considering plan to realign main road serving Upper Chesapeake Medical Center campus

The Aegis

A realignment is coming to the main road serving the sprawling University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center campus in Bel Air.

At their meeting Monday evening, the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners voted to 3-0 introduce a resolution to realign a section of Upper Chesapeake Drive, which serves the campus from West MacPhail Road near Route 24.

Upper Chesapeake President and CEO Lyle Sheldon said the realignment is part of a plan to allow the health system to create more parking on-site.

Sheldon said the curved road will be realigned between the main entrance off of MacPhail and the parking garage next to The Shirley & Ralph Klein Ambulatory Care Center.

The health system plans to add 600 parking spaces for the medical center. Construction on a new lot, Lot M, at MacPhail and Tollgate roads, started this year. Officials have said previously that construction of the rest of the spaces near the main entrance should start next spring.

Straightening the portion of Upper Chesapeake Drive allows the health system to “configure parking in a more efficient manor,” plus it provides “greater sight distance” for people crossing at designated areas, town Planning Director Kevin Small told the commissioners.

The town planning commission approved UCH’s parking expansion plans last December. The commission stipulated that two elevated crosswalks be built for pedestrians, citing concerns about drivers speeding on the straightened roadway, Small said.

Upper Chesapeake remains responsible for all road maintenance and replacement costs within the hospital campus, as well as the costs of creating and recording a revised plat and related documents reflecting the changes to the campus, according to Small.

A public hearing on Resolution 1116-18 is scheduled for Oct. 15, Small said.

Rockfield Manor updates

The town commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of a series of changes to the existing lease agreement between the Town of Bel Air and the Rockfield Foundation governing the use of the town-owned Rockfield Manor.

Commissioners Philip Einhorn and Amy Chmielewski were absent Monday.

Town staff recommended the changes as the agreement was renewed, which happens automatically each year, Finance Director Lisa Moody told the commissioners.

“The town took advantage of the [renewal] notification requirement in order to review the agreement for any changes,” Moody said.

The revised lease agreement, which must be signed by the Rockfield Foundation board, is in effect through Aug. 31, 2019. The foundation leases the facilities at 501 and 503 E. Churchville Road for $1 per year, according to the agreement.

The first change covers stating clearly what facilities on the 5.44-acre property are available for the foundation’s use, including the main manor house and garage, cottage house, barn and parking areas, according to the agreement.

The second change is a requirement that the foundation board forward its meeting minutes to the town 10 days after final approval of the minutes.

Third is language governing the use of the cottage house, according to Moody. The house can be used as a bridal suite or for “other events,” but it cannot be used for anything overnight, according to the agreement.

The fourth change is a requirement that any property crimes that happen on the premises be reported “immediately” to the Bel Air Police, Moody said.

The final change is an agreement that the foundation fund improvements to the cottage house. The town can provide furnishings, “but only if they were deemed to be necessary by the town,” Moody said.

The foundation board president has reviewed the revised agreement, along with the town attorney. The board is “ready to sign should you all approve it this evening,” Moody told the commissioners.

The commissioners also unanimously approved a request to spend more than $7,800 for a “chip seal treatment” to improve the rear parking lot at Rockfield Manor.

Public Works Director Stephen Kline said a new layer of tar and chip seal is needed to preserve and extend the life expectancy of the lot, which was built behind the manor house more than 20 years ago and has started to wear down over time.

The town would spend $7,865.98 on the project, according to Kline.

Mayor Susan Burdette said she is “really happy” to get improvements to the rear lot done.

The commissioners last year approved a contract to build a parking area in front of the manor house, to provide additional parking options for visitors beyond the rear parking area — people had to walk up a steep hill from that lot to the manor.

The new front lot has since been completed.

“Everything looks so nice in the front parking lot, and everything is so finished and beautiful around there now,” Burdette said.

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