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OrthoIllinois plans to build a surgery center in the Gateway Business Park in Beloit. The project remains under review by the Beloit Plan Commission and still requires Beloit City Council final approval.

BELOIT — In a split vote, the Beloit Plan Commission denied a request by OrtohoIllinois for a conditional use permit to allow the company to build a surgery center in the Gateway Business Park.

The commission voted 3-3 that resulted in the denial. As of Wednesday night, the plan would still head back before the Beloit City Council in the near future for final review. It’s unclear whether OrthoIllinois will pull the conditional use permit request ahead of council review.

A public hearing was held Wednesday night as many Beloit Health System staff voiced concerns for the future of medical care in Beloit if the plan moves forward.

OrthoIllinois proposed building a 25,605-square-foot surgery center with ambulatory service and lodging suites at 1350 Gateway Blvd. on a 5.69-acre property. Project documents show the center could have hosted up to 30 outpatient surgeries weekly with the ability to lodge patients overnight as needed. The facility would include four operating rooms, 12 patient recovery rooms, a post-anesthesia care unit, sterile processing department and various support spaces. If approved, construction could start in January and be completed by August of 2021.

At issue on Wednesday night was the interpretation of the zoning language cited by City of Beloit development staff that recommended Plan Commission approval and a subsequent approval recommendation to the Beloit City Council.

Attorney Tim Feeley, who represented the health system, said the interpretation by city staff was flawed due to relying on the general definition of a medical clinic and did not focus on more restrictive language that defines what a medical office is.

Feeley said any approval would “violate the ordinance and amount to reversible error.”

In a letter submitted ahead of the meeting, the health system contended the surgery center would not be allowed in the M-2 Manufacturing zoning.

Beloit Health System CEO Tim McKevett told commissioners that the OrthoIllinois plan could cause “financial strain” for the health system.

“If they are allowed to proceed this will have a negative impact on the health system,” McKevett said.

In response, attorney Ian Linnabary, representing OrthoIllinois, said the facility would bring specialized care on an inpatient basis in an office setting, noting that the facility would not be a “mini-hospital” as referenced in concerns mentioned earlier in the meeting.

Linnabary cited the success of the OrthoIllinois Rockford facility to address concerns related to scenarios if patients face complications from procedures, noting that of the 12,000 operations completed in the last three years, 0.2% of all procedures required transfer to receive further medical care.

OrthoIllinois CEO Don Schreiner said the overnight lodging stays for patients would be for those traveling from out of the Stateline Area to have a procedure, with the Beloit facility capable of drawing patients from the OrthoIllinois client base in the Chicago suburbs and the greater Illinois area.