Heliports would be explicitly allowed in a business district
By KEVIN BONESKE
Explicitly stating in the Oneida County code that a heliport associated with a licensed healthcare facility is an allowable conditional use in a business district had undercurrents surface related to the proposal by the Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000-square-foot hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua when the County Board met Tuesday.
County supervisors eventually approved a resolution that included wording allowing heliports after rejecting two amendments offered by supervisor Jack Sorensen, who sought to prohibit the construction of a heliport within a quarter-mile of an existing area with single-family residential housing and then sought to add language requiring Federal Aviation Administration approval before the start of heliport construction.
Only four of the 18 supervisors present backed the amendment restricting a heliport near a single-family residential district and just six voted for the language related to FAA approval prior to construction.
Those against both amendments included supervisor Billy Fried, who like Sorensen is a member of the county’s Planning and Development Committee, which had voted 3-2 against amendments Sorensen previously introduced to the resolution.
Fried noted issues Sorensen raised such as safety and noise are looked at by the committee when it considers a conditional use permit like the one the Marshfield Clinic has applied for to build the hospital addition, while those granted permits are required to comply with the applicable state and federal law.
County planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich provided supervisors 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 in a business district.
Though a zoning code revision in 2000 didn’t explicitly incorporate the administrative and conditional uses for business districts that had been in effect in the county dating back to the 1950s, Jennrich is on record as stating a hospital would be a permitted or conditional use for how the Marshfield Clinic property in Minocqua is currently zoned.
He has also noted the question as to whether the property is zoned properly would become a “moot point” upon those changes being made to the county’s zoning code.
A public hearing before the Planning and Development Committee to consider the application from the Marshfield Clinic has been scheduled for April 27 at 6 p.m. in the Minocqua Center gymnasium.
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 Development 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 has its own multi-million-dollar renovation and construction project in the works.
In addition to the potential effect the hospital addition could have on competition between the two healthcare organizations, HYMC also raised the issue of zoning as to whether it allows such a project. Representatives of both the Marshfield Clinic and HYMC were at Tuesday’s County Board meeting to address the heliport issue contained in the resolution approved by 17 of the 18 supervisors present with Sorensen casting the lone dissenting vote.