- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) - Devils Lake residents are continuing to debate a plan to build a helicopter hangar and install an 8,000-gallon fuel tank at Mercy Hospital despite its rejection by city commissioners.

Many residents who live in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital disagreed with the initial proposal, but all of them agreed the service was vital to the community, the Devils Lake Journal (http://bit.ly/29997Ld ) reported. Some residents are concerned about a two-story metal building being placed near their properties, while others believe it would increase the chance of survival for patients who desperately need medical care.

Teresa Longie, who has lived in the neighborhood for about a year, supports both the service and the proposal to build the hangar.

“I think some people do have a point about seconds really counting when it comes to people’s lives,” Longie said. “I don’t mind it; it’s not an eyesore to me. I think it’s a benefit to the community.”

The primary issue involved zoning due to the proposed location in a high-density residential zone, so the city’s ordinance concerning the zoning of the neighborhood would need to be adjusted, said Mayor Richard Johnson.

Larry Liere of the Devils Lake Planning Commission said the plan requires another change to the ordinance concerning zoning because the hospital’s air ambulance service, Valley Med Flight, is a for-profit enterprise, which means it’s considered a business venture.

But both Johnson and Liere said they’re open to revisiting the issue.

“We’re more than willing to have (Valley Med Flight) come back with a different idea,” Liere said.

Johnson indicated that the air ambulance service may have had more luck if it adhered to proper procedures when requesting to build the hangar, including consulting with the city on the proposed ordinance change.

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Information from: Devils Lake Journal, http://www.devilslakejournal.com

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