A Hamilton Township-based dentist will have wait until next month to find out whether the Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment will approve a request for a use variance to open a dental practice at 3640 Lawrenceville Road.
The zoning board began a public hearing on Radwa Saad’s application for a use variance to move her dental practice – Premier Dental Arts – to the house at the corner of Route 206/Lawrenceville Road and Province Line Road. It is the former location of Maffei Chiropractic.
A use variance is needed because a dental office is not a permitted use in the Environmental Protection-1 zone. The property had been used as a single-family home by chiropractor David Maffei with a home occupation medical use, as allowed under the Environmental Protection-1 zone.
A home occupation is limited in size and scope, and must be owner-occupied, according to a memorandum from Assistant Municipal Engineer Brenda Kraemer. Saad has requested conversion to a full medical office with eight employees and seven treatment rooms.
Saad told the zoning board that about one-third of her patients live in Lawrence Township. She said none of the eight employees are dentists. She sees about 18 patients daily in her practice, which is limited to daytime hours weekdays, and to a few hours on Saturday.
Unlike Maffei, who lived in the house and operated his practice in part of the house, Saad said she would not live in the house. It would be devoted entirely to her dental practice, she said.
Engineer Mohammed El-Hawwat said his client’s plans call for turning the swimming pool in the backyard into a koi pond, which would help to calm Saad’s patients.
There will be 15 to 17 parking spaces on the property, to include some space set aside for employees and the rest for patients. There is a driveway on Route 206/Lawrenceville Road and one on Province Line Road, but left turns out of the driveways and onto the two streets would be banned, El-Hawwat said.
Architect Trae Anderson said the goal of the renovation is to maintain the residential look and feel of the property. The garage would be converted into the main entrance, with a waiting room. The seven treatment rooms would look out onto the backyard.
Planner Paul Gleitz said that although the property is in the King’s Highway Historic District and is listed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places, it is not a contributing structure to the district.
Properties in a historic district are divided into several classifications – key, contributing and non-contributing – according to their historic significance. The one-story house was built in the 20th century.
While the house is not a contributing structure per se, Gleitz said, “We think our contribution is to create a buffer.” The house will not be visible from the street because of the landscaping, he said.
When residents expressed concerns about the future of the property – whether it would converted into a commercial property – attorney Ryan Kennedy said limitations could be written into the resolution, if a use variance is granted. He represents Saad.
A use variance “runs with the land,” meaning it would be valid forever, Kennedy said. He emphasized that conditions could be imposed so that no one could expand the use variance or use the property for commercial purposes.
There would be “extremely narrow” limits imposed, Kennedy said.
Having run out of time to complete the public hearing, the zoning board and the applicant agreed to continue it to a special Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting Oct. 26. The virtual meeting will begin at 7 p.m.