The Homer Advisory Planning Commission revisited a controversial conditional use permit Wednesday after it was appealed late last year. The planning commission approved the permit last fall for a roughly 20,000-square-foot medical center near South Peninsula Hospital. But the commission reapproved the permit after addressing some technical issues.
Homer resident Rob Lund appealed the commission’s decision last winter to grant a conditional use permit for the proposed medical center. The center would house the Kachemak Bay Medical Clinic and offer space for other medical professionals.
Lund lives near the proposed center, and took issue with commission’s decision, arguing that the building was not compatible with surrounding properties and claimed it had potential to harm “neighborhood character.”
A judge upheld the planning commission’s decision in most respects, but noticed inconsistencies in the planning commission’s findings when it came to road access and asked the commission to address those concerns. On Wednesday, the commission asked Dr. Paul Raymond, the facilities owner, to work with the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and the state’s fire marshal to evaluate access to the building in case of an emergency.
The commission did not address Lund’s argument that conditional use permits in the neighborhood surrounding South Peninsula Hospital are effectively rezoning the area.
This is not the first time opposition has been raised against the approval of the permit. South Peninsula Hospital administrators and staff testified against the move when it was initially being considered, arguing that the facility could financially damage the hospital through competition.
Dr. Raymond agreed with the commission’s decision Wednesday, but he speculated that the Kenai Peninsula Borough may also appeal the permit, saying that certain borough staff members have expressed opposition. However, he says he doesn’t understand the concerns surrounding his facility.
“I'm a firm believer that the community should have choices,” he said. “A monopoly in any business is bad. You wouldn't want to have one restaurant to eat at. You wouldn't want to have one grocery store to go to and you certainly don't want to have one medical facility as a choice.”
It’s unclear when Raymond will be able to break ground on the project as he still needs one final building permit before he can move forward.