Liberty County Commissioners have approved a zoning action that clears the way for Liberty Regional Medical Center’s new clinic adjoining the Tradeport East Business Park near the intersection of I-95 and Islands Highway.
Liberty Regional CEO Mike Hester said the 3,500-square-foot clinic will open this year.
Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson presented the zoning measures which his board recommended for approval.
The LCPC documents reveal that the zoning change to official institutional does not comply with the county’s comprehensive land use plan.
The planning commission’s zoning analysis also said that approving the hospital authority’s request was spot zoning.
The O-I designation is unrelated to the existing pattern of
development. The LCPC said the zoning change will “allow rights that are denied to others in this area.”
The planning commission said the rezoning for the medical clinic will make the adjacent industrial areas more attractive for industrial developers and that it will provide transition between the industrial park and adjacent non-industrial property.
Commissioner Justin Frasier asked if the hospital authority could not find a better location to benefit both citizens and industries.
Hester said the hospital already owned the I-95-Islands Highway property.
Commissioner Connie Thrift said, “Y’all kind of fell into that;” people buy land and it’s wetlands and they can’t use it.
Ricketson said about half of the two-acre parcel was usable.
Commissioner Gary Gilliard said he was thinking of some location between U.S. Highway 17 and the railroad in Midway.
The rezoned site, he said, was “between a rock and hard place, or a swamp.”
Hester said the hospital is talking with the owner of a vacant building that was in a better location.
Referring to the development authority, owner of land adjacent to the clinic site as well as the Midway industrial park, Frasier asked, “Why not talk to the authority about partnering?”
Commissioner Eddie Walden asked Ricketson, “Would you have rezoned this for a convenience store?”
Ricketson said a convenience store would have drawn more comment from the planning commission.
After numerous questions and comments, six commissioners voted in favor of the rezoning.
Commission Chairman Donald Lovette is a hospital employee and recused himself from voting.
In other business Tuesday, the commission adopted the proclamation of National Tourism Week May 7-13.
According to the proclamation tourism brings $3.3 million in tax revenue to Liberty County along with 574 jobs.
County Administrator Joey Brown reported that there will be a public meeting on countywide fire protection for the Isle of Wight on May 16.