The move toward the construction of a new hospital facility in Redwood Falls moved ahead Tuesday night when the city council took action on two items related to that project.

The first action was to approve an ordinance amending the zoning for a parcel of land on Redwood County Highway 24 from rural residential to residential business. The 61-acre parcel, which is currently owned by the Eldo and Elizabeth Schoer family, is being re-zoned to allow for the sale of that land to Carris Health, LLC for the purpose of construction of a new medical facility on that site.

According to Tim Hanna, city zoning administrator, the construction of a hospital is not a permitted use in a rural residential zone.

Although Carris Health is not purchasing the entire 61-acre parcel, the Schoer family has opted to re-zone the entire piece, as they believe it would be a better fit for possible future uses of the property. The ordinance amendment was initially presented to the city council at its Jan. 15 meeting with the final approval placed on the agenda for the Feb. 5 meeting.

In addition to adopting the ordinance amendment, the city council also approved a conditional use permit for Carris Health as it relates to the west 35 acres of that parcel for the purpose of erecting a new hospital on that site.

Bryan Lydick, Carris Health - Redwood administrator, expressed appreciation for the approval, adding this is where Carris Health wants to be. 

In other action, the city council:

• Appointed Stephen Plaetz to his first term on the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

• Appointed David Klabunde to his first full term on the public utilities commission.

• Declared a 2011 Chevy Colorado as surplus property and approved a purchase agreement from Southwest Sales and Service of Redwood Falls of $5,000 for the vehicle.

• Approved the purchase of a turnout gear washer/extractor for the Redwood Falls Fire Department. According to Jeff Bommersbach, Redwood Falls Fire Department chief, the department has been approved for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of the State Fire Marshal in the amount of $4,556.70 for the equipment. A match of $506.30 is required for the purchase. The 2019 budget for the department included $7,000 for the equipment upgrade.

Bommersbach added the department has been using a traditional washing machine to wash its turnout gear, but recent information indicates that the use of a washer/extractor will better remove carcinogenic material that collects on the gear.

“This new washer /extractor is supposed to pull a lot more of that out,” said Bommersbach.

• Established a housing study committee, with Mayor Tom Quackenbush and council members Matt Smith and Denise Kerkhoff serving on the committee.

Keith Muetzel, city administrator, indicated that the council at its Jan. 29 work session discussed the idea of conducting a housing study, and the feeling was that the best way to move forward was with the creation of a committee that would look into having a study done for the community.

The committee, which Quackenbush said will include others yet to be appointed, will determine the scope of that study.