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City of Blue Earth: Ambulance garage must be moved

By Staff | Feb 8, 2010

The Blue Earth City Council decided the ambulance garage at United Hospital District (UHD) is in the wrong place and has to be moved.

The hospital had relocated the garage building last year, in preparation for making room for the new clinic project.

And, the city had given UHD permission to do so.

However, City Councilman Dan Brod appealed the decision by the planning and zoning commission, and a public hearing on the matter was held during last Monday’s council meeting.

Brod pointed out set- back rules in the city code, saying the garage was just 42 inches from the street and needed to be 25 feet instead.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey explained that the code also lists a provision for ‘accessory’ buildings which do not have to follow those setback rules.

“I felt the garage met all of the requirements for an accessory building,” Bailey says.

Walter Rockenstein, an attorney for UHD, was at the meeting and agreed with Bailey.

He presented a multi-page report which he says shows the right decision was made as to the placement of the ambulancegarage.

He also says the hospital board would have the right to make a claim for the cost of moving the building, which he says will run between $55,000 and $65,000, if the city demanded it be moved.

On a split 5-2 vote, that is exactly what the council did. Mayor Rob Hammond and Councilman Glenn Gaylord were the two dissenting voters.The motion was to require UHD to locate the garage at least 50 feet from the back and side of the lot.

UHD Administrator Jeff Lang says that relocation will affect the parking area planned for the new clinic, as well as access to the oxygen tank also planned for the area.

“This could negate our 30-stall parking lot,” Lang says. “And it will make it more difficult for the truck to fill the oxygen tank located there.”

Brod said the city was in error to have allowed the relocation of the building in the first place, and he proposed that the city pay one-third the cost.

A vote on that question passed 6-1, with Hammond the lone dissenter.

Mayor Hammond proposed an alternative site, the Public Safety building where the fire hall and police office is located.

Brod says he missed the planning and zoning meeting in May when the garage relocation was first discussed.

“We did a real disservice to the citizens who live in that area,” Brod says. “It should never have come to this. I hate to be the one to pursue this. There are good people at the hospital and are a good business to work with. But we failed the residents when this was allowed to happen.”

There were six residents from the neighborhood in attendance at the hearing. Several spoke about their concerns with the location of the ambulance garage, as well as other issues with the UHD project, including parking and moving snow all to one side of the street.