STAR JOURNAL REPORT
After being postponed to allow more time to review the official record, a public hearing has been rescheduled for Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. before the Oneida County Board of Adjustment to consider an appeal from the Marshfield Clinic, which is seeking a conditional use permit to build a hospital addition to its current clinic in Minocqua.
The Marshfield Clinic wants the Board of Adjustment to overturn a decision by the county’s Planning and Development Committee, which voted 3-2 on June 14 to deny a permit for a 72,000-square-foot addition. The committee’s majority based its decision on the application not meeting a standard for approval that states, “The establishment, maintenance or operation of the conditional use will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort or general welfare.”
Committee members Scott Holewinski, Jack Sorensen and Mike Timmons voted to deny the permit, while Dave Hintz and Billy Fried favored the permit’s issuance.
In the appeal received July 20 by the county planning and zoning department, Marshfield Clinic assistant general counsel Dan Kirschnik said the committee’s denial “was erroneous, that the planning committee did not keep within its jurisdiction, that the planning committee applied an incorrect theory of law, and that the planning committee acted arbitrarily and unreasonably in denying Marshfield’s CUP application.”
Prior to the Board of Adjustment holding the hearing on the appeal in the County Board Room of the Courthouse, board members conducted an on-site inspection of the Marshfield Clinic property in Minocqua on Sept. 19.
The Marshfield Clinic applied in January for a conditional use permit to build a hospital in Minocqua 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 owned by Ascension. Representatives of HYMC have objected to the Marshfield Clinic’s proposal. HYMC also has its own multi-million-dollar renovation and construction project in the works.
Kirschnik said the committee’s decision to deny the permit “was based solely on concerns about competition with the existing Howard Young Medical Center,” which under case law “is an improper basis upon which to deny a CUP application.”
“In the exercise of its zoning authority, the planning committee does not have the power to regulate competition or establish health care policy,” he said. “The proper function of the planning committee in considering a CUP application is to evaluate the suitability of a proposed use of land. Here, the planning committee found no concerns with the proposed land use. Therefore, the CUP should have been granted.”
Marshfield Clinic’s 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, which held its own public hearing April 27 and also conducted an on-site inspection of the property May 10.