Schoharie Dental begs village for help


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie Dental’s Hazem Elbialy begged for help Tuesday:
The Planning Board’s failure to officially act on his request to expand his parking and add on a 20-seat waiting room is costing him patients, Dr. Elbialy told the Schoharie Village Board Tuesday.
“It’s seriously hurting my business,” he said. “I have people fighting for parking spaces. I have a grossly over-crowded waiting room where elderly patients are tripping over each other.
“I started this process on February 2. Nine months later, I still don’t have a decision. I need help.”
In September, the Village Planning Board rejected Dr. Elbialy’s request to demolish the home he owns next door to his 229 Main Street practice and then turn it into an 18-space parking lot and add on the waiting room.
It was, however, essentially a straw vote; the next step in the process is for attorney Dave Brennan to draft an official decision for a formal vote within 62 days of its initial decision.
A 10-page challenge by Dr. Elbialy’s attorney has added 30 days to that clock, but even that time is running out, sometime around December 10.
The Village Planning Board meets Monday and Dr. Elbialy said Mr. Brennan and his attorney, Robert Stout Jr. from Witeman Osterman & Hanna, have a meeting set up for the 30th.
But this late in the season, even with an approval, it’s much to late to start any construction this year, he said.
“This is negatively hurting my business,” he said. “I have people leaving because they can’t park, because they can’t find a place to stand.”
What can the Village Board do? asked Mayor Larry Caza, though “obviously, I can’t guess or dictate when the Planning Board will make a final decision.”
Separate from the other issues, Mayor Caza said he believes Dr. Elbialy could apply for a demolition permit for the house he owns at 235 Main Street and park on the grass if needed.
“True,” Dr. Elbialy said, “but the Planning Board has to give its blessing to repurpose it. I’m trying to go through the right channels. I don’t want to demolish it and then deal with the consequences.”
Mayor Caza said the Village Board could make a formal request to the Planning Board to speed up the process.
Mayor Caza and other trustees spoke in favor of Dr. Elbialy’s project at a public hearing in August.
Mayor Caza is leaving his post to become Schoharie County Clerk on January 1.
He’s being replaced by Colleen Henry, elected November 7.
Ms. Henry is Planning Board secretary, but is stepping down and will be recusing herself from any votes, she said.