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Behavioral health hospital could be on the way in Bern Township

Construction of Tower Health and Acadia Healthcare’s 144-bed behavioral health hospital in Bern Township could begin later this month.

Officials with the two organizations are working through the final conditions of their land development plan with the township, Bern Township Manager Brian Potts said. After that, the organizations can apply for their building permit, he said.

“They are just about through the land development process,” Potts said.

A Tower Health spokeswoman said the groundbreaking for the new facility could occur by Nov. 16 after the closing on the Bern Township property is complete.

Tower Health and Tennessee-based Acadia are looking to build their hospital on Route 183 across from Reading Regional Airport.

The 92,000-square-foot facility would provide inpatient psychiatric care for children, adults and seniors. The facility would be built on an undeveloped tract between Teleflex Inc. and Penn State Health St. Joseph hospital.

The facility would offer outpatient programs and counseling, treatment for substance abuse disorders and other services.

Since it was formally announced last year, the project has been met with fierce criticism from a group of Greenfields residents who are concerned about what the project could to their property values. They came to public meetings to ask questions about the facility’s security plan, traffic impact on Route 183 and the patients it would serve.

Township resident Maureen Huber filed two appeals regarding the project against the township’s zoning board and supervisors. In one appeal, she said the supervisors did not give proper notice for a hearing on the project. In the other, she said the project should have been classified as a hospital, which is not a permitted use in the district Acadia and Tower plan to develop. Both appeals were denied by Berks County Judge James M. Lillis. Huber declined to comment about her appeals.

The initial building project may only be the start for the two organizations. They have also talked about placing a 45,000-square-foot medical office building and a 64-bed residential treatment facility at the site.

When the project was announced in December, hospital officials said it could employ as many as 300 people. Reading Hospital would move its 40-bed behavioral health program from its West Reading campus to the proposed facility.

Contact Matthew Nojiri: 610-371-5062 or mnojiri@readingeagle.com.

Article source: https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/behavioral-health-hospital-could-be-on-the-way-bern-township