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Lawrence Hospital Takes Next Step for Addition

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- The Bronxville Planning Board told Lawrence Hospital officials to take plans for their proposed three story addition to the next step in the approval process Tuesday night despite significant disapproval from residents who live right across the street.

Donald Henderson, planning board chairman, said the recommendation does not mean that the board has signed off or given approval to the project, but he would like to see village zoning board begin to review the plans.

"What it means is that as we continue to go through our process, the zoning board should begin its review as well," Henderson said.

Anna Longobardi, vice chair of the planning board, agreed that after numerous public hearings and significant revisions to the plan, it was time to get the zoning board involved.

"I am not crazy about it, but at this point, it is time to move things along" Longobardi said.

But Randolph Mayer, alternate trustee, won applause from the numerous residents who squeezed into village hall when he called the addition, “ugly.”

"I think that before we go forward with this project we should see the next best thing and find out why that does not work," Meyer said.

But Lawrence Hospital President Edward Dinan said there is no next best plan.

"Long before we got to this point, we considered many different possibilities," Dinan said. "This proposal met all of our needs and was the most cost effective."

At issue is a proposed 39,000 square foot, three-story addition that will be placed on the northeast corner of the hospital, which is located on a 3 acre site. The $34.4 million dollar project expects to add seven new jobs to the hospital and will not add any new entrances or exits to the campus.

The building would host a radiation therapy center in the basement, and a medical oncology infusion center on the first floor, both treatments for cancer. On the third floor of the new addition there will be six brand new state of the art operating rooms, which will replace the current operating rooms that hospital officials have been deemed outdated.

But many residents who live mere feet away from the hospital oppose the addition due to numerous concerns, specifically how close the addition comes to the property line of the hospital and to their homes across a narrow portion of West Pondfield Road.

The group which has repeatedly filled village hall to express their concerns let their lawyer do most of the talking for them Tuesday night.

The residents have banded together and dubbed themselves the Committee to Save Bronxville's West Side and hired Manhattan attorney Christopher Rizzo of Carter, Ledyard and Milburn to represent them.

Rizzo told the planning board that thus far, there has been no formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required on all projects in New York State.

"Right now the board is just hearing ad hoc reports from different groups," Rizzo said. "The EIS will put all of those reports together for a more cohesive look on the exact impact the project will have on the residents and the village."

Rizzo said he hand delivered a letter to hospital administrators and the planning board, on the required EIS and numerous variances from village zoning laws the project will need.

"I am not sure the planning board knows it can ask for other alternatives to the plan that has been presented," Rizzo said.

One of the residents, Jane Strachman said she would be "eager" to sit down with hospital officials and hammer out an addition both sides could live with.

"We have made it clear from the beginning that we support the hospital, and the need for it to expand," Strachman said.

Hospital officials went back to the drawing board after the last meeting and took 18 inches off of the front of the addition, leaving more green space, according to the architect Tim Fecker.

"We eliminated a proposed entrance to the new addition, we moved the chillers on the roof, so there would be less noise and we added a rooftop garden," Fecker said.

The planning board will take the matter up again in October.

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