With the approval of a conditional use permit by the Hudson Common Council on Monday, Feb. 26 Mayo Clinic Health System is set to move forward with the purchase of land in Hudson off Stageline Road, north of the Hudson 12 Theatre near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 35.

Preliminary plans are for a 100,000-square foot medical facility with a clinic and outpatient surgical function.

The 9.2-acre area is zoned properly for Mayo's intended use, but the permit covers what Community Development Director Mike Johnson calls a grey area in the code, as the location would not be a hospital or dental clinics like the city has dealt with before.

"The code doesn't contemplate a medical facility like that," Johnson said.

The permit is just the first step to purchase, and does not approve developmental plans.

Some citizens expressed concern about the arrival of Mayo during a public hearing at the city's plan commission meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Sister Trish Erickson of Hudson questioned why Mayo wanted to come to Hudson, saying her hometown of Albert Lea has seen tension over the Mayo-run hospital care.

"I just don't want to see that happen here," Erickson said.

Jackie Nelson of Prescott said she was concerned about the cost of care, and the effect Mayo's presence will have on the community. She said citizens already have options, and competition, like Hudson Hospital and Hudson Physicians.

"I'm concerned they'll cannibalize some of that care away from the hospital," she said.

Mayor Rich O'Connor said the conditional use permit was about the use of the property, not Mayo's quality of care or reason for coming to the city.

During the common council meeting, city attorney Catherine Munkittrick confirmed that the city cannot zone based on perceptions of competition or potential adverse effects.

Mayo Vice Chair of Administration Jason Craig said Mayo is simply looking at land acquisition at the moment. He said the service plans to work with the community as it continues in the process.

"Our every intent at that point would be to move into a very expanded conversation with the community and the residents here in Hudson and also in western Wisconsin to make a determination to what services may or may not be a good fit for the community," Craig said.