MARINETTE - A property on U.S. 41, partially owned by Richard and Lynn Dettman, has been rezoned as a highway business zoning district.

The change happened during Tuesday night's Marinette City Council meeting and earlier in the meeting, council members voted to change the zoning to include medical clinics and laboratories. The original recommendation from the Plan Commission also included hospitals into the zone change.

Hearings on the matter took place immediately before the council meeting, during which representatives from both Bay Area Medical Center and an unnamed party interested in developing the property spoke.

Ed Harding, president and CEO of BAMC, asked the council to approve the request to change the zoning to include medical clinics and laboratories, but not hospitals.

"I'm asking you tonight to focus on being planners, not reactors and see that the only reason you are considering this is that a potential Green Bay purchaser is asking, in the 11th hour, to include hospitals," Harding said.

He continued saying that voters and constituents need time to research and fully understand the issue before being able to make an informed decision on it and determine if there is actually a need.

"This isn't a matter of competition like if you would place two gas stations down the road from each other," he added. "The is health care that we all pay for. Having two (hospitals) in one community can be problematic."

Harding also brought up that in the research he did to understand the issue of zoning, he came across the city's comprehensive land use plan for the next 20 years and quoted the introductory paragraph which basically dictates which buildings are covered under the institutional zones and includes BAMC hospital.

"In effect, simply stating, those institutional categories should remain where they are and should not change," Harding said.

Rich Otradovec, president of Rodac Development & Construction, replied on behalf of the potential purchasers of the land in question.

"To add the language of including hospitals to that zoning district was actually the recommendation of the Plan Commission and we saw that it would fit our needs quite well, especially if we were to expand the services given," he said.

Alderman John Marx stated in the meeting that he was concerned about granting a hospital zone to one entity when they refused one to Aurora Medical Center years ago. Aurora Medical Center is located about a mile north of the Dettman's property.

"I am confused as to why one entity can't be a hospital but now this one can," he said.

The motion to accept the amendment to the zoning district to include medical clinics, laboratories and hospitals failed in a 3-6 vote. Alderpersons Dorothy Kowalski, Dennis Colburn and Carol Kempka voted for the amendment.

In a second vote, the amendment to include medical clinics and laboratories, but not hospitals, was approved in a 6-3 vote. The same alderpersons that voted for the previous amendment voted against the second one.

"In regards to Aurora, that is the past and this is moving forward," Colburn said. "That's why I'm sticking with this (voting to include hospitals in the zoning district). We've wavered from the comprehensive plan before."

The council also approved two bids during the meeting. One bid was from Koehne GM for a Chevy Tahoe for the Marinette Police Department squad.

The other was from Havelka Construction for the Red Arrow Park beach improvement project. The project will include several plans to reduce erosion and decrease bacteria levels in the sand. The project was suggested by the Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission and UW-Oshkosh after they conducted a study along the beach. The study revealed that the beach and surrounding area were relatively healthy but there were still some improvements that could be made. UW-Oshkosh gave the City of Marinette a $50,000 grant to make those improvements.

The council also approved a resolution commending Kathy Cleven for her work as the city's financial director and treasurer. Cleven will retire on Friday after working for the City of Marinette for eight months. City Attorney Jonathon Sbar presented her with a framed copy of the resolution.

"Whereas Kathy's work ethic, drive and determination went beyond the call of duty as Kathy worked many long nights and weekends doing whatever was necessary to get the job done," Sbar read from the resolution.

Cleven received the framed copy amid a standing ovation from the council and those attending the meeting. She thanked the council for a wonderful year and said she enjoyed working with everyone in the city's departments.