Mason City Residents Continue to Fight Mercy Expansion

Posted at: 11/14/2012 10:45 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2012 10:46 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Mercy Medical Center North Iowa is moving ahead with expansion plans, despite community concern. Mason City agreed to change zoning for the project, a decision those in the neighborhood, won't accept.
"There's been this harmony between Mercy Hospital and the neighborhood between that period of time," said Erik Neitzke back when it was proposed. That same day, neighbor Constance Momeni said, "I had no idea this was going to happen."

That was the reaction a couple months back, when neighbors in Forest Park (a neighborhood in Mason City) got word Mercy Medical Center might expand right up to their backyard and tear down several homes in a neighborhood. A neighborhood that's been around for almost a century.

"I think in the past, Mercy officials have made statements like, they would not expand to the north, and now they changed their minds and then they asked the city to change their mind," said lawyer Joel Yunek.

The city voted in favor of rezoning the land. A project they believe, the hospital needed. "With regards to their supplies and their current loading dock and area where they receive their supplies for the hospital, it is not very efficient for them," said City Administrator Brent Trout.

The homes on that land have already been bought out, but those still living in this neighborhood are worried of more noise and traffic, among other concerns. The city says, they've thought about all that.

"They could create a buffer and a fence, for lack of a better term, that limits the amount of noise the neighborhood heard from the activity that's going on at Mercy." said Trout.

The city has 90 days to come up with a compromise. "We actually brought a suit to contest the rezoning," said Yunek. If not, they'll be faced with that lawsuit.

"I think as long as at the end of the day, we've come up with a compromise that meets some of  the request and desires of both groups, and allows Mercy to be able to move forward and do this important project, then I think we can call that a success," said Trout.

The city says they hope to meet on December 4th to present their negotiated plan.