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Marinette Council Changes Wording in Zoning Proposal

The Marinette City Council voted to purchase a police car, improve the beach at Red Arrow Park, and change key wording in a zoning change proposal for newly annexed land on Highway 41. The decisions were made at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Two committee meetings and two public hearings on the subjects preceded the meeting.

The Plan Commission on Jan. 9 recommended that a recently annexed 35 acre section of land on Highway 41 be rezoned to a B-4 Neighborhood business district, and that B-4 districts allow for “Medical Clinics and laboratories, including hospitals.” The inclusion of hospitals, a change from the previous definition of a B-4 zone, sparked a lively discussion at both the Council meeting and the public hearing held shortly before the Council. Richard Otradovec of Rodac Development and Construction in Green Bay, which recently purchased the property, told the Council that future plans for the medical services building Rodac plans to build on that lot may include units where patients will have to stay overnight, which would technically make the facility a hospital.

Ed Harding, Chief Executive Officer of Bay Area Medical Center asked the Council not to zone the Rodac parcel or any other B-4 parcels to allow hospitals. He noted that BAMC is zoned I for Institutional, and that the proposed zoning change violated the city’s 20 year Land Use Plan. Further, Harding said, the 1985 agreement that allowed the Marinette and Menominee hospitals to merge underwent a lengthy public comment and input process before it was approved.  Any new proposed hospital, he stated, should go through the same scrutiny.

 The Council voted 6-3 to drop the words “including Hospitals” from the Municipal Code proposal, with Alderpersons Carol Kempka, Dorothy Kowalski and Dennis Colburn dissenting.

Upon a recommendation from the Public Safety and Code Enforcement Committee, the Council accepted a bid from Koehne Motors of Marinette to purchase a new Chevy Tahoe LS Fleet Vehicle for the Marinette Police Department. The $29,277 bid was the second lowest of three bids. Police Chief John Mabry told the 6:10 P.M. committee meeting that department investigators liked the vehicle because of its flexibility, and the department had a good relationship with Koehne Motors. Questions arose about the possible cost of delivering a vehicle from Ewald’s Ford in Hartford, which submitted a bid $1,039 lower than Koehne Motors.

Acting on a recommendation from the Board of Public Works and Director of Public Works Brian Miller, the city accepted a $74,258.60 bid from Havelka Construction of Wallace to make improvements to the beach at Red Arrow Park. A recent study of the beach by the Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission and UW Oshkosh reported that Red Arrow Beach has relatively good water quality. It suggested changing some aspects of the beach and park to improve water quality and the health of the beach. The improvements will include a rain garden at the east edge of the parking lot and other items to keep storm water from running off on the beach, and importing additional sand to provide a drier beach. Native plants will improve the improvement of rain water and reduce runoff and erosion. A $50,000 grant from UW Oshkosh and $25,000 from the City’s Water Front Fund will pay for the construction. Miller hopes that the work will be completed by June 1.

The Council also voted to authorize Fire Chief Robert Thull and City Attorney Jonathan Sbar to begin negotiations with the Town of Peshtigo to bring back an Automatic Aid agreement between the two governments.

Harding offered a progress report to the Council on the proposed partnership agreement between Bay Area Medical Center and Aurora Health Care. The two health care providers have signed a letter of intent and have begun the due diligence of financial and other aspects that would affect the agreement.  Harding hopes that the two providers can sign a definitive agreement in March or April. He reports that BAMC entered into these negotiations in sound financial health and from a position of strength.

The Council also passed a resolution commending the work of Kathy Cleven who will retire in mid-February. Sbar, who drafted the resolution, particularly noted Cleven’s work in preparing a budget and dealing with some near-crisis situations during the past few months.  Council members and members of the public gave Cleven a standing ovation after the resolution passed.

Alderpersons Carol Kempka, Dennis Coburn, Martha Karban, Ken Keller and Dorothy Kowalski took part in the 6:10 P.M. meeting of the Public Safety and Code Enforcement Committee, along with Sbar, Mabry, Thull and City Clerk Jim Anderson. 

The 6:20 P.M. Board of Public Works committee meeting included Kempka, Anderson, and Sbar along with John Marx, Bradley Behrendt, Martha Karban, Shirley Kaufman, Cleven and Miller.

Public hearings related to the zoning of the newly annexed parcel on Highway 41 began at 6:30 P.M., and Harding and Otradovec gave voice to their concerns at the first hearing concerning language about hospitals, while no one came forward to speak at the 6:45 P.M. hearing. Council President David Buechler presided at the council meeting in the absence of Mayor Denise Ruleau.


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