After some discussion and a nod of approval from the owner of a neighboring home, the Lower Nazareth Zoning Hearing Board granted 11 setback variances that will allow a new dental office to open at 4887 Hanoverville Road.
Dr. Adnan Qayyum, who currently has a practice in the office building at 65 E. Elizabeth St., Bethlehem, wants to build a 3,000-square-foot office on the lot that is less than a half mile from Dutch Springs.
Currently, a 1,700-square-foot mobile home sits on the property, said Robert Toedter, owner of RT Consulting and Engineering Inc. in Allentown, at a meeting in December. The matter had been continued until January because the variances needed to be advertised.
Qayyum sought the variances because the lot is too small to meet the township’s setback ordinances for commercial property. The .47-acre lot had previously been zoned residential, but is now zoned for light industrial commercial.
“The lot is too small for any [commercial] use in the township,” Toedter explained.
Township ordinances require wider setbacks for commercial properties than for residential properties. The buffer area between a commercial property and a residential property has to be 75 feet, said Lorie Seese, the township's zoning administrator.
Qayyum’s lot is not wide enough to get 75 feet away from his next door neighbor. His attorney, Christopher Spadoni, told the board that his client looked into buying more land beside him, but the neighbor was not interested in selling.
“The most important thing for zoning is to protect the adjoining owners,” said board member Michael Gable.
However, Ben Flurer, who lives in the house beside Qayyum’s lot, told the board Tuesday night that he supports the plans for the dental office.
Zachariah Cobrinik, a newly appointed member of the board, asked Flurer if he supports the project because he simply doesn’t care if it's there, or if he thinks there is a benefit to putting a dental office on the land.
Flurer said, “I would like it to happen. It brings in another business that isn’t a box warehouse. They’ll (the dentist’s office) have regular business hours, so I won’t have more big trucks going past my house at night.”
The board discussed what could happen to the property if the variances were not granted. Cobrinik said it could remain a residential property, but the board could grant approval for the dental office “if it is in the best interest of the community.”
Robert Hicks, a temporary alternate on the board, said, “No improvements will be made to the property if it isn’t used for a business.”
“I believe this is a net gain for the township,” Gable added.
The board unanimously voted in favor of 11 setback variances.
Qayyum said he plans to employee a hygienist, a manager and an assistant. There will be 10 parking spots, and he agreed to create a grassy area as the buffer between the office parking lot and Flurer’s driveway.