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Plan for doctor’s office approved despite objections from neighbors

Eric Sucar
A pedestrian braves the cold and rainy weather during a walk around Roosevelt Park in Edison on December 26.


EDISON — A proposal to keep a doctor’s office as a doctor’s office faced significant pushback from residents at a zoning meeting on June 28.

Neighbors objected to the application to allow an existing doctor’s office inside a residence at 400 Plainfield Road to be leased to a doctor who would not be a resident of the home.

The original approval was given in 1986 and came with the condition that the owner of the home must be the one who uses the medical office. Most recently, that space was used by the now ex-husband of the applicant, Masooma Ali. Ali is not a doctor, so she wanted to be able to lease the space to a doctor. That change in use, however, falls under different zoning requirements, including additional parking.

Ali’s neighbors cited concerns such as an increase in traffic and that traffic’s impact on the young children in the neighborhood, additional parking in front of their homes and the uncertainty around who the doctor using the space would be.

“We think something that involves a third-party commercial doctor — unknown — just presents significant changes to what we feel is our neighborhood, to our homes, and what we want to maintain,” said Marco Gonzalez, who added that he felt the proposed use is more suitable to a commercial zone.

Stan Press said he was concerned about the neighborhood becoming commercial.

“I just don’t want it,” Press said. “I can’t understand why this has to be approved when there are so many other places to put this office. And my property values are going to be going down.”

He said he was also afraid that Ali would come back in the future wanting additional modifications.

Board attorney Patrick Bradshaw and Chairwoman Rosemary Feterik pointed out that Ali could sell the entire property with the office space, and in the end residents still would not know the new doctor. There also would be no opportunity for the board to issue any restrictions on the office.

Ali’s attorney Bernard Shire said he felt there was an unnecessary level of apprehension from residents and pointed out that Ali was trying to stay in the neighborhood and not sell the home.

“She is looking simply to continue the medical use in the building that was built and approved as a medical use,” he said, adding that he felt this application was the most beneficial of potential outcomes for the residents.

The board, with two dissents, approved the application, but did issue some limitations on it, such as reducing the required parking from 11 under the zoning to five — one more space than what is there now for the office. The board also restricted office hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, required that it be a doctor who operates the business on site (as opposed to the office becoming a daycare or lawyer’s office) and prohibited street parking and the use of an X-ray machine at the site, which limits the type of doctor who may be able to practice there. The building also cannot be expanded.

“I hope you’re happy. We’ve done the best we can for you. I think in the long run we’re better than we are now. Thank you for understanding,” Feterik told the audience following the approval.

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