On-site inspection to precede possible vote May 17
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Holding a public hearing for more than 4 ½ hours April 27 in the Minocqua Center’s gymnasium didn’t provide enough answers for Oneida County’s Planning and Development Committee to decide on an application from the Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000-square-foot hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua.
Committee members resumed deliberations on the application Wednesday after wrapping up other items on their agenda when they met in the County Board Room at the Courthouse in Rhinelander, but they had more questions they wanted answered before making a decision, which could come May 17 after they conduct an on-site inspection of the Marshfield Clinic property in Minocqua on May 10.
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.
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.
Committee members asked representatives of both organizations present for Wednesday’s meeting to provide answers to a variety of additional questions, such as the effect the project would have on staffing levels, traffic flow in the area, how often helicopters would fly in and out, stormwater runoff and retention, etc.
The hospital addition 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 also heard from those supporters and opponents as well as others with an interest in the project.
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.