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Sunday, 13 November 2016 13:36

Grand Haven Twp. rejects measure Spectrum Health, Holland Hospital gave $130K to support

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GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP — Spectrum Health and Holland Hospital collectively put $130,000 in cash toward what was billed as an information and education campaign on a ballot question in the township where the two are developing a medical campus.

A ballot committee that campaigned unsuccessfully to uphold a change in Grand Haven Township’s zoning ordinance this year received $75,000 in contributions from Spectrum and $55,000 from Holland Hospital, plus another $23,989 in donated in-kind services from Spectrum, according to pre-election financial statements filed Oct. 28 with the Ottawa County Clerk.

The contributions funded the Committee for Quality Healthcare Choices, which formed in March when two Spectrum Health employees — one of whom is director of operations at Health Pointe Inc., a joint venture between Spectrum and Holland Hospital that’s developing a $55 million medical campus — filed papers with the Ottawa County Clerk’s office. They filed the papers the day after the Grand Haven Township board approved the Health Pointe project following a contentious process opposed by many residents.

In organizing the committee, the employees used their work addresses and email, but later filed an amended registration statement that used their home addresses in Grand Rapids and Spring Lake, as well as personal email addresses.

Local groups would criticize Spectrum and Holland Hospital for their lack of transparency regarding the involvement in the committee and the campaign to influence voters, as MiBiz previously reported. 

The committee advocated a “yes” vote on a ballot question to preserve new height restrictions and allow medical uses in commercial zones. As it considered plans for Health Pointe, the township adopted the measures in a zoning amendment that aimed to clear up some of the issues brought to light by the project. 

Spectrum and Holland Hospital sought to keep the amended zoning ordinance even though the township approved the Health Pointe project under the old ordinance and the amended codes did not have a direct bearing on the development. 

Residents who opposed the Health Pointe development also objected to the new zoning ordinance and petitioned to place it on ballot. Directors at Health Pointe launched the effort to “dispel confusion and misinformation on the impact of the referendum.”

Despite the amount spent on the campaign, voters in the township repealed the ordinance amendment by a margin of 52.7 percent to 47.2 percent.

“We are disappointed in the outcome but respect the decision of Grand Haven Township residents. We supported the proposal and believed it would correct ambiguities in the zoning ordinance, which is good for business growth,” the Heath Pointe Board said in a statement to MiBiz. “Our focus going forward is to complete construction of the Health Pointe medical care facility, which will provide new local options for health care.”

Health Pointe is under construction on a 12-acre site on the north end of Grand Haven Township in an outlot at a Meijer store. The 120,000-square-foot Health Pointe facility will house primary-care medical practices, specialty physicians, an urgent care center, laboratory services, medical imaging such as MRI and CT scanning, and an outpatient surgical center.

The pre-election financial statement for the Committee for Quality Health Care Choices for the period covering July 21 to Oct. 23 lists cash contributions of $55,000 from Holland Hospital on Sept. 1, and $55,000 from Spectrum Health on Sept. 15. Spectrum previously gave $20,000 to the ballot committee.

Spectrum Health also donated another $12,504 in in-kind services to the ballot committee during the reporting period, raising that total for the year to $23,989.

The Committee for Quality Health Care Choices listed expenditures of $37,410 in the reporting period and $51,262 total since forming, plus $32,107 in debts and obligations. Expenditures include:

n $7,500 to Grand Rapids political consultant Sam Moore for the reporting period and $27,129 for the election cycle.

n $7,950 during the reporting period and $39,621 overall in the election cycle to WGHN Inc. in Grand Haven for radio ads.

n $9,084 from July 21 to Oct. 23 and $44,163 overall for mailing services from a Utah company.

The ballot committee’s debts and obligations include $3,000 to a Columbus, Ohio-based opinion research firm, Clout Research Inc., and $16,750 to opinion firm Target Point Consulting Inc. in Alexandria, Va.

The group of residents that petitioned to get the zoning amendment on the ballot and opposed Health Pointe reported receiving $2,550 in donations, plus $525 in donated in-kind services, according to a pre-election financial statement. The Township Citizens Voice Committee had expenditures of $2,317 for yard signs. 

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