County committee to finish reviewing additional information
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After about a half hour of discussion Wednesday, Oneida County’s Planning and Development Committee set a special meeting for June 8 at 1 p.m. at the Courthouse in Rhinelander to decide on a conditional use permit application from the Marshfield Clinic to build a 72,000-square-foot hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua.
The committee, which held a public hearing April 27 on the permit application and also conducted an on-site inspection May 10 of the Marshfield Clinic property in Minocqua, requested more time to review supplemental information committee members requested, such as the storm water management plan for the project, traffic flow in the area, how often a helicopter would fly in and out, etc.
The permit application was back on Wednesday’s committee agenda to discuss when to set a meeting to deliberate on the matter after the members had the opportunity to review the additional information.
Also Wednesday, county planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich provided the committee members with copies of email messages for and against the Marshfield Clinic’s proposal as well as a petition from nearby property owners with 22 signatures opposing the hospital addition and a heliport.
Prior to the June 8 special meeting related to the permit, committee members have another meeting set for May 31 when they plan to discuss whether they have had enough time to review all the material or have additional questions they want answered.
“I want everybody on (May) 31 to say they’re ready (to consider the permit application on June 8),” said committee chairman Scott Holewinski.
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.
Given that both organizations have been opposing each other while the permit application has been pending, committee member Billy Fried questioned whether there could be arbitration between them before the committee would deliberate on the matter.
“It’s unique. There’s a lot of emotion,” Fried said. “There’s a lot of things in play.”
Assistant county corporation counsel Michael Fugle said in response to Fried that the permit application didn’t involve negotiating.
“If you deny the conditional use permit, it doesn’t happen,” Fugle said. “This is your decision.”
The hospital addition proposal previously 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.
Though the committee has the authority to give the permit application final approval and place conditions on it, the decision could be appealed to the county’s Board of Adjustment.