Ministry wants city to revoke Marshfield Clinic’s building permits for East Wing
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — At next Tuesday’s zoning board of appeals meeting, Ministry Health Care and Saint Joseph’s Hospital will appeal a decision by the city of Marshfield from earlier this summer, in which building permits were issued to Marshfield Clinic for the interior remodeling of the second and fourth floors of its East Wing.
Ministry is disputing the issuance of building permits stating that city ordinance should have required the Marshfield Clinic to first receive conditional use permits from the city of Marshfield prior to beginning remodeling.
The city of Marshfield repealed and replaced its zoning code in January of 2013 and all of its zoning classifications. With new zoning classifications, the city needed to also conduct a citywide rezoning.
“One of the new zoning districts that (was) adopted was ‘CD’ Campus Development. The intent of this district is to recognize the presence of large-scale facilities that may be made up of several properties and oftentimes multiple owners that all share a similar use,” said a memo from Marshfield Zoning Administrator Sam Schroeder. There are four campuses recognized by the city: the airport, the fairgrounds, the educational campus of UW-Marshfield Wood County and Mid-State Technical College, and the medical campus encompassing both Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital and Marshfield Clinic.
Schroeder said that campus development classifications are “intended to coordinate the growth of these campuses with surrounding neighborhoods and community as a whole, recognize the sharing of resources between properties, balance the ability for a campus to evolve and the public benefit associated with such development, and also encourage the preparation and adoption of (a) campus master plan.”
City Administrator Steve Barg said that the city cannot require these entities to develop a master plan. Of the four campuses, only the airport has approved and adopted a campus master plan.
Schroeder explained the use of a campus master plan is “basically to establish full confirming zoning status to the campus; facilitate predictable campus development; and enable the nearby property owners, residents, and the community to understand short-term development proposals, impacts, and mitigation strategies within the context of long-term development possibilities.”
Ministry is objecting to the issuing of building permits to Marshfield Clinic in part because under Marshfield city ordinance 18-166 (3), “In the absence of an approved CMP (campus master plan), or within an expired CMP, any development within the Campus Development zoning district shall be regulated as a conditional use.” Ministry asserts that Marshfield Clinic should have been required to receive conditional use permits for remodeling in its East Wing.
Barg said that the city’s position is that because Marshfield Clinic is not changing its use from a zoning perspective, meaning it is still being used for medical-related purposes despite the remodeling, that a conditional use permit is not necessary.
“We don’t consider it new development,” Marshfield City Planner Josh Miller said. “It’s renovating inside an existing structure, and it was a still a medical use.”
In the appeal from Ministry Health Care and Saint Joseph’s Hospital, it is stated, “The appellants (Ministry and Saint Joseph’s) own the property directly adjacent to the property (being remodeled), are located in the same zoning district as the property, are affected by the development on the property, and are part of the same medical campus as the property.”
In their appeal Ministry Health Care and Saint Joseph’s Hospital request that “the city revoke the building permits and issue a stop work order to the Marshfield Clinic for all work taking place pursuant to the building permits; that the city require the Marshfield Clinic to follow the conditional use permit process mandated under 18-161 (which addresses conditional use permit procedures).”
This appeal also stated that approval of a campus master plan, which Marshfield Clinic does not have, would require zoning administrator review, city plan commission review, and common council review and action and that, “The implementation of these processes also allows for public comment before city bodies and/or commissions that meet Wisconsin Open Meetings law and public notice requirements, which in turn is consistent with the objectives of chapter 62 of Wisconsin Statutes that zoning decisions promote health, safety, morals, and the general welfare of the community relating to any development.”
The appeal additionally contended that the issuing of a building permit alone without issuance of a conditional use permit to the Marshfield Clinic “was erroneous and contrary to law for several reasons: It is contrary to the clear and unambiguous language of section 18-166 of the city of Marshfield Zoning Ordinance; it was not based on proper legal standards; it was arbitrary, oppressive, unreasonable, and capricious and based on the city’s will as opposed to its judgment; it is contrary to, and was not based on, a correct theory of the law; and it is not consistent with the decision a fair and reasonable person would make based on the evidence or record.”
Section 18-42 (4) of Marshfield municipal code states that prior to the adoption of a campus master plan, which has yet to occur for the medical facility campus, “All existing land uses, structures, paved areas, and lots are legal conforming, consistent with article V (which is a part of Marshfield’s Municipal Code dealing with nonconforming situations).”
Schroeder’s memo said, “Staff believes that without a change in land use, no structural additions, and no additional needs for parking that the surrounding physical neighborhood would not be affected except during the temporary reconstruction of these floors.”
Marshfield Clinic Health System Chief Operating Officer Dan Ramsey said, “We’re unsure why our permits are being appealed but are confident we followed all guidelines in submission of building permits. We’ll await the appeals board’s decision before commenting further.”
Hub City Times has reached out to Ministry Health Care for comment on this story and is awaiting response. The zoning board of appeals will meet Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 5 p.m. at City Hall in Marshfield, Suite 108.