Schoharie’s Village Planning Board said no Tuesday to Phase 3 of expansions at Schoharie Dental.
In a unanimous decision, Planning Board members said the project, which would have included demolishing a vacant house next-door and turning the site into a parking lot, and adding on a 20-seat waiting room—both to handle what Hazem Elbialy said are more than 220 patients a day, didn’t meet Zoning Law requirements for the neighborhood.
Dr. Elbialy could resubmit the project with revisions.
“I think there are solutions,” said Planning Board member Tom Hitter.
The thumbs-down directs attorney Dave Brennan to draft an official decision for a formal vote, likely at the Planning Board’s September 26 meeting.
The Planning Board’s chief concern was parking for 94 dental chairs—even after 235 Main Street, vacant since Irene, was demolished to create 18 more spots.
They also questioned whether the project was allowed in the neighborhood, zoned as mixed-use multi-family residential.
And decided no.
“If someone came in today with a project like this, on a different lot…what it’s become, would we likely approve it?” asked Mr. Hitter.
“I don’t think so. He’s basically outgrown the space he has and I think he knows that.”
“I think we let the horse out of the barn in Phase 2,” said Steve Babbit, another Planning Board member.
“By allowing the additions with all the rooms, I think we kind of missed it and we’re scrambling to get caught up.”
Planning Board members said they’d wanted to support the project and even discussed allowing it with conditions, but felt there was no one to enforce them if they did.
“I don’t think conditions are the way to go,” said chair Dusty Putnam.
“He’s come to is with a problem of his own making and we aren’t the fixers,” suggesting it’s up to Dr. Elbialy to find alternative parking.
“I don’t want to do it for him.”
Ms. Putnam also pointed out the expansion flies in the face of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, which stresses the value of the village’s smalltown character and projects that reflects its unique features and character.
Neighbors patients, and staff mostly backed the project at an August public hearing, pointing to the restoration Dr. Elbialy has already done to the former Main Bridge and the fact that he’s the village’s largest employer.
Others expressed concern over increased traffic and danger to pedestrians and taking even one home off the market.