Committee also favors clarifying zoning code language with permits for hospitals
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Oneida County’s Planning and Development Committee has set a public hearing for April 6 at 6 p.m. in the Minocqua Center’s gymnasium to consider an application from the Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000-square-foot hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua.
The Marshfield Clinic is seeking a conditional use permit for a hospital that would have a surgery center, 12 in-patient beds, emergency room, imaging and lab. The proposed single-story addition, which has an estimated price tag from $30-35 million, would be built to the southwest of the existing clinic and designed for potential future expansion, vertically and horizontally, according to the permit application.
The proposal received the backing of both the Minocqua Plan Commission and the Town Board after both bodies heard from supporters and opponents before the permit application was forwarded to the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee, which could give final approval to the permit.
If approved, the project would place another hospital in the Minocqua-Woodruff area in close proximity to the existing Howard Young Medical Center that is part of Ministry Health Care and owned by Ascension. Representatives of HYMC have expressed objections to the Marshfield Clinic’s proposal. HYMC also recently announced plans for its own multi-million-dollar renovation and construction project.
In addition to the potential effect of competition between the two healthcare organizations, HYMC has raised the issue of whether the Marshfield Clinic property would be properly zoned for the hospital addition.
County planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich provided the Planning and Development committee with a memo in which he requested an amendment to the zoning code to clarify that a hospital would be allowed as a conditional use.
Jennrich noted zoning ordinances dating back to the 1950s allowed business districts in the county all the permitted, administrative and conditional uses that were allowed in District 3-Multiple Family Residential. But he also pointed out that when the county zoning code was revised in 2000, Business Districts 6 and 7 did not incorporate the administrative and conditional uses from District 3-Multiple Family Residential.
After the revisions were made in 2000, however, Jennrich also informed the committee that the county has been allowing in District 6-Business and District 7-Business the administrative and conditional use permits also allowed in District 3-Multiple Family Residential.
“The zoning administrator is on record that I believe (a hospital is) a permitted or a conditional use within that zoning district,” he said.
Jennrich also noted HYMC had been rezoned to a business district.
“We typically don’t rezone things to make them non-conforming or legal pre-existing to make them conforming,” he said.
To specify in the county zoning code that a hospital would be allowed in District 6-Business and District 7-Business with a conditional use permit, Jennrich recommended changing the code so that all the conditional uses of District 3-Multiple Family Residential would be allowed as well as helicopter landing pads associated with licensed hospitals.
The recommended conditions for the permit the Marshfield Clinic is seeking include installing a berm as a sound barrier where a helipad would be located.
Jennrich said the changes in the zoning code would require a public hearing, which committee members agreed to hold April 6 during the day at the Courthouse in Rhinelander prior to the public hearing on the hospital addition permit application that evening in Minocqua.
He said hopefully the question as to whether the Marshfield Clinic property in Minocqua is zoned properly for a hospital would become a “moot point” upon those changes being made to the county’s zoning code.