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Bronxville Planning Board Closer to Lawrence Hospital Decision

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – Bronxville Planning Board Chairperson Donald Henderson said a decision on the proposed addition to Lawrence Hospital could be made within the next month or two.

At Wednesday night’s planning board meeting, Henderson said that the hospital has filed numerous documents detailing its perspective on the impact the project will have on the village.

"Now the planning board has to determine if the information provided by the hospital is enough for us to declare a negative declaration or if a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed," Henderson said.

According to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) the impact of projects must be explored and documented. But planning boards have the ability to declare a negative declaration, or a finding that the EIS is not necessary.

Residents who live across a narrow portion of Pondfield Road West and Parkway Road in Alger Court have asked planners to insist on the full EIS.

"We support the whole idea of expanding the hospital," Alger Court resident Helen Levitz said at a previous meeting. "But we would like to see that expansion take place without destroying the quality of life of the hospital’s neighbors."

Levitz and her neighbors have been attending planning and zoning board meetings for the better part of the last year. They have asked hospital officials to reduce the footprint of the proposed addition in order to lessen the impact on their side of town. The neighbors have submitted numerous petitions signed by dozens of residents and businesses seeking a less intrusive design for the addition.

In its current form, the proposed addition will mean the loss of more than 30 trees, and bring the building less than 3 feet from the sidewalk. Rooftop chillers will also be needed on the roof of the building, which are directly in line with the windows of the residential complex across the way and residents fear they will have to endure loud noises day and night. In addition to determining the impact on the community, a full EIS is also required to explore what other expansion options had been considered, their cost, and why they were ruled out.

Although Edward Dinan, hospital president, has said in the past that the hospital has considered many other options to do much needed renovations and expansions, he did not provide specifics.

Once the planning board makes a determination of the EIS, or declares a negative declaration, the next stop for the proposal is the village zoning board of appeals (ZBA).

Although the ZBA has already taken on the proposal, it cannot make any decisions until the planning board acts first.

But it will be up to the ZBA to determine if it will waive requirements in the village code so that the hospital expansion can go forward in its current form.

In order to go ahead with the project, the ZBA must grant variances so that the structure does not have to comply with the setback requirements mandated in the village code.

If the project gets to that point and necessary variances are given, the planning board will have the final say on if the project will go forward and what the footprint of the project will be.

The three-story addition slated to be located on the northeast portion of the hospital building. The addition would add an estimated 39,000 square feet to the building and would mostly be devoted to a cancer center.

Hospital officials have said renovations to its six operating rooms, which were constructed in the 1950s, are the direst need.

"We have just received a lot of material," Henderson said Wednesday. "We plan on going over it and making a decision.  We hope to have a decision at the next meeting or the one after that."

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