Supporters and opponents testify Thursday at hearing
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After holding a public hearing for more than 4 ½ hours Thursday in the Minocqua Center’s gymnasium, Oneida County’s Planning and Development Committee could decide Wednesday afternoon on an application from the Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000-square-foot hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua.
Committee members will resume deliberations on the application Wednesday after wrapping up other items on their agenda when they meet in the County Board Room at the Courthouse in Rhinelander.
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 also heard from those supporters and opponents while considering whether to 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 debating what impact the Marshfield Clinic’s project would have on the health, safety and welfare of the area, another one of the issues that has been raised is the potential effect the hospital addition could have on competition between the two healthcare organizations.
Though the Planning and Development Committee has the authority to give the permit application final approval, the committee’s decision could be appealed to the county’s Board of Adjustment.