Issue of: May 20, 1998  


County gives St. Luke’s full dose of planning

Express Staff Writer

To aid the ailing new hospital rezone process, Blaine County Officials prescribed one planner dedicated to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center plans every work day until recuperation.

Planning Administrator Deborah Vignes began working full time without interruption on the re-zone process for the new St. Luke’s facility slated to be constructed in Cold Springs, south of Ketchum.

Vignes’ commitment by county officials followed a meeting of hospital administrators, Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig and other county planners last Wednesday.

St. Luke’s, discontent with progress on the project set to break ground in July, initially called the meeting to get the county back on track.

"We had a concern the timing was running slower than we had hoped," St. Luke’s Vice President Bill Bodnar said.

"We weren’t hearing very much, and had assumed some of the planning would have been done by now," Bodnar said.

The two sides now stand on fairly level ground following the meeting, he added.

According to Bodnar, St. Luke’s would like to start site work this summer so the facility can open by the end of the year 2000.

Because no official "hospital zone" exists in the area of the new hospital, planners must create a new land designation before St. Luke’s can pursue building permits.

The county must amend St. Luke’s section of land to recreational development zoning to accommodate hospital uses. Commercial development will not be part of the changes.

The new hospital site lies on a semi-oval-shaped section of land south of Ketchum known commonly as McHanville.

"I think all of us are anxious to get this project up and running," Commissioner Harlig said, "I think we can make all the time constraints within a degree of closeness."

Blaine County will make the requisite zoning changes early this summer to allow St. Luke’s to go forward with construction this building season, county Planning Administrator Linda Haavik said.

"This is a fairly ambitious schedule but it is one that I think is doable," Haavik said. "We are on full tilt with things associated with the hospital."


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