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For the week of April 4 through April 10, 2001

Redesigned medical office building predicted

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Board of Commissioners has rescheduled a suspended appeal by St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center of the county’s denial of its plans to build a 38,000-square-foot medical office building adjacent to its new hospital south of Ketchum.

But comments made by county Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas and others during a commission hearing Monday suggest the hospital might drop the appeal and instead submit a new application for a redesigned, smaller building.

"I think you will see a different building. I think you will see a different application, frankly," said Thomas, who in the last several weeks has attended three mediation sessions with St. Luke’s, the Blaine County Citizens for Smart Growth advocacy group and county officials.

"If there is a new application," he said, "then there is no appeal."

Thomas plans to attend a fourth, and he believes final, mediation session April 12, after which the group may release a statement describing any agreement reached.

St. Luke’s appeal, filed after the county planning and zoning commission denied plans for the office building last summer, was put on hold in March with the hope that mediation could resolve conflicts among all involved over the proposed building’s size, location and parking layout.

Because the mediation sessions were held in private, a written statement by participants may be the only record the public sees of what transpired among St. Luke’s, Smart Growth, which wants to block the appeal, and elected officials.

The board of commissioners is scheduled April 23 to publicly consider whatever the mediation group decides. A redesign by St. Luke’s would require a new application followed by a new series of public hearings before the P&Z.

The board is calling the 4 p.m. April 23 meeting an appeal hearing to meet public notice requirements in case no mediation agreement is reached and the appeal does indeed go forward.


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