CLIFTON PARK -- Members of the town Planning Board got their first look at proposed medical building project and sent it back to the drawing board after a lengthy discussion last Tuesday evening.
Plans call for a 6,000-square-foot building to be built on a 1.52-acre parcel of land. The current zoning for the area is hamlet/mixed use, according to plans submitted to the town. The project is being proposed by William Ayaegbunam, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Clifton Park.
The proposed office is located on the east side of Route 146, near Balltown Road.
The lot is located approximately 850 feet south of the intersection of Route 146, Glenridge Road and Blue Barns Road. The project area is currently wooded.
The proposal includes 40 parking spaces on the site in front of the building. Sidewalks would be installed around the building, providing pedestrian access from Route 146, and a connection to a future pedestrian trail on Route 146.
Malta-based firm Lansing Engineering will be working with Ayaegbunam on the project. Ayaegbunam's practice will be the only business in the building.
Some Planning Board members expressed varying opinions about the project, including comments on whether or not the design of the building fits with the surrounding community.
Board member Andy Neubauer expressed concerns over the building's architecture, which featured tall columns prevalent in Georgian-style architecture, something that he didn't feel was necessarily in line with the hamlet-mixed use intention for the majority of the area.
"This is more of a traditional suburban design," he said.
He noted that the planned building is also almost an "exact carbon copy" of the building across the street, and suggested the client consider reworking the design.
Board member Jeff Jones disagreed, noting that, in his eyes, the design of the building was very appropriate for the area.
"I think it fits perfectly in that area. I think that's what the hamlet screams for," he said.
The bigger issue for the majority of board members was the large expanse of pavement located in front of the building that would, according to the plans, serve as the parking lot.
Though the plan incorporated landscaping accents to partially shield the asphalt, it would still be highly visible from the road; that was the main reason some board members felt the project's design was not in line with the hamlet-mixed use aspect of the area.
Most of the other nearby buildings have their parking lots off to the side or behind a building, board members pointed out.
Board Chairman Rocky Ferraro, who noted that he usually tends to advocate for the most comprehensive preservation of trees on a site as possible, said he would in this case be willing to see a few more trees lost on one side of the parcel if it meant the parking lot could be placed on that side, as opposed to the front.
Scott Lansing, of Lansing Engineering, said a shift in design could be difficult due to site constraints, including a septic system planned for one side of the parcel. He said his client also was hoping to move forward.
Ayaegbunam, who currently has his practice in an Emma Lane building, is coming up on the end of a lease and would like to advance this project, Lansing said.
But board members stood firm.
"I wouldn't mind seeing alternative options," Neubauer said.
"Our job is to make sure we get the best project that fits for everyone,"Jones said.