The Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa building plans and their effects on the nearby neighborhood are components of what is really a three-legged stool: the hospital, the neighborhood and city government.

The situation is this: Mercy wants to build a new energy system and also wants to expand its loading dock. The hospital will knock down several houses it owns to accomplish its purposes. But in so doing, the adjoining neighborhood will be right up next to all the noise, constant truck traffic and associated health and safety concerns.

The changes will also destroy the aesthetics of the neighborhood and drive down property values, they say.

Let’s look at the three legs of the stool.

• The hospital needs a new energy system and said it is essential to insure quality comfort and care of patients.

The hospital owns the property so, in effect, can do whatever it wants with it within the law.

• “Within the law” brings us to the second leg of the stool — government. Mercy needed the City Council to approve rezoning in order to build the energy center. The council approved it. It also needs council approval of conveyance of a street to accommodate the expansion of the loading dock as well as council approval of a development agreement. The council has approved the rezoning but has not yet acted on the conveyance or the development agreement.

• The neighbors feel like the quality of life of their neighborhood — the reason they chose to live there — is being taken away from them, and there isn’t anything they can do about it. They are greatly concerned about their property values going down. A group of them have hired an attorney to try to have the rezoning nixed. “It’s the only leverage we have,” said Mendee Neitzke, one of the parties filing the suit.

Hospital officials and the neighbors have met several times in an effort to work out their differences and as a result, the hospital has made changes in its building plans.

But the neighbors say a lot of the changes have to do with building a buffer — and the issue to them is much bigger than the size or contour of a fence.

So, here you have it: a hospital with a plan it said is necessary to assure patient comfort and safety; a City Council that is responsible for the health and safety of the community; and a group of neighbors who claim their rights as property owners are being trampled on.

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or

(4) comments

JB Johnson of Britt
JB Johnson of Britt

If I can get power to my house from a power plant hundreds of miles away why does Mercy need it's plant next door? Put the power source on west campus and bury cable. You Don't see cables running from windmills do you?

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

Interesting issue here, one which gets right at the heart of what politics truly is about: WHO GETS WHAT. With the right strategy, effectively executed, there are at least 2 ways for the property owners to win, and multiple ways for Mercy to prevail here. I'd say that the odds favor Mercy getting 3/5+ of what it wants, but even the smartest lawyers at the disposal of Joe Swedish are beatable - IF Neitzke and Co. play their cards right. After all, didn't David beat Goliath, with the right moves?


Power from power plants fail occasionally. For ordinary homeowners, this is just an inconvenience. For a hospital, it is life and death. Hospitals MUST have reliable backup power available at a moments notice.

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

You're indisputably right, 'JHood'. The issue of a big-time power generator arose about 20 yrs ago, when my mother was on the Board of Directors of the-then parent corporation of Mercy, which was based in Farmington Hills, MI. Not Trinity, which NOW owns it, but its predecessor parent, which had far deeper pockets. But the LOCAL board didn't sign off on it. It would've been MUCH easier/cheaper to do back then, as there were willing sellers, and the '08 flood hadn't yet occurred. A missed chance.

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