AUGUSTA – MaineGeneral Medical Center’s planned new regional hospital in north Augusta won approval from the Planning Board late Tuesday night.

Just before 11:30 p.m., planners voted, 5-1, to approve the final major development application for the proposed $322 million hospital.

“I think this is a very exciting opportunity to have another industry-leading facility here in Augusta,” Corey Vose, chairman of the Planning Board, said just before the vote.

The four-story hospital will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED “silver” standards certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a “green” building, according to Craig Piper, prinicipal architect for SMRT on the hospital project.

It’s design will reflect on the adjacent Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, using similar materials including brick, copper, stone, metal and wood.

The main entrance will include an “education center” and feature, like the Cancer Center, a wooden canopy structure.

The project still needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which Mark Johnson, a landscape engineer with SMRT, anticipates it will receive by the end of the month, and and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Board member Linda Conti was the lone dissenting vote. She expressed concerns that more comprehensive planning did not take place in advance, and that there were still too many unknowns about access to the site, including pedestrian acces which she said has been lacking in major local projects in the past, and a lack of a traffic movement permit from the state Department of Transportation.

The project hinges on a new, full interchange being built at Exit 113 to allow direct access to and from Interstate 95.

Chuck Hayes, president and chief executive officer of MaineGeneral Medical Center, said the proposal to finance construction of the interchange, including a three-party agreement between the hospital, state and city, is currently under review by the state Department of Heatlh and Human Services as part of the hospitals Certificate of Need process.

MaineGeneral’s downtown hospital in Augusta and the Seton campus in Wateville would close when the new facility opens.

 

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