Beloit City Hall, 100 State St.

BELOIT—The Beloit City Council will begin review of a zoning amendment on Monday that would change the classifications related to medical facility uses and development.

The proposal by city planning staff follows a controversial development proposal that resulted in OrthoIllinois withdrawing its application to build an ambulatory surgery center in the Gateway Business Park after strong opposition by the Beloit Health System, the City of Beloit’s largest employer.

The proposed ordinance change replaces “hospital” as a use category with the broader term “medical facility,” and clarifies that hospitals, medical clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and nursing homes as examples of potentially allowed developments. The proposed ordinance also clarifies that examples of medical facilities include hospice, hospitals, nursing homes and ambulatory surgery centers. Another change would remove emergency medical care as an example of retail service and medical and dental clinics as examples of office uses.

In April, the city announced the ordinance change would come up for review in early June, but the issue was pulled as city staff cited a need for further review by counsel ahead of council and commission action.

Commercial Property Group developer Joel Patch said there has been an increased interest in medical-type uses in communities across the country over the last three years, from ambulatory services and clinics to counseling centers.

“It’s become a national phenomenon. It’s almost become the new retail. It’s the hottest portion of brick and mortar retail,” Patch said, referencing the past retail losses suffered by Beloit, from Elder Beerman to Shopko.

Patch said he’s been in contact with various medical-related businesses that have eyed possible relocation to the Beloit area.

“It’s a trend I think will continue for quite some time,” he added. “It’s past time for the city to come up with the new use designation for medical services. Competition is good. The citizens of Beloit should be excited about that. The public needs to understand that this is a new trend that isn’t going away.”

The council will not take action on the proposal, and will refer the ordinance change to the Beloit Plan Commission for review at the Aug. 4 meeting. The effort could come back before the council on Aug. 16.

The Beloit City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday for agenda review followed by a 7 p.m. regular meeting. The agenda review portion will take place in the first floor conference room at Beloit City Hall, 100 State St., and the meeting will occur in the first floor forum space.