Facing blight hearing, Plant Factory owners file new plan for medical offices
Conditions at the Plant Factory property on upper Black Rock Turnpike meet the criteria in the town's blight ordinance, the Condemnation Board ruled Monday, and a hearing on the site was set for the board's December meeting.
Meanwhile, a new application to build a medical office building on the property at 4185 Black Rock Turnpike, across the road from the Hi Ho Motel, has been submitted to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission. The plans are scheduled for a code review next Tuesday, but zoning officials said the earliest the application could be added to the TPZ agenda for a public hearing is next January.
Health Director Sands Cleary, who serves as town blight officer, said he recently inspected the Plant Factory property. Despite its appearance, the nursery is still open, mainly selling mulch, compost and top soil.
"I spoke with the occupants, who are part owners (of the parcel) and Paul Richter," Cleary said. "We made a couple of immediate requests," including securing the doors of the white stucco building on the site to prevent access.
"The next meeting will be the actual hearing" on blight conditions, Cleary said. "In the interim, they said they were willing to work on things." None of the owners who make up New Way Associates, LLC, were at Monday's meeting.
The Plant Factory had previously been condemned by town officials, but was taken off the condemnation list after required work was performed.
An application in 2011 for a larger, two-building medical office complex on the property was denied by the TPZ.
The latest TPZ application again calls for changing 2.5 acres of the property from an AAA residential designation to designed commercial, and building one two-story medical office building, which would have a total of 25,000 square feet. The previously proposed complex would have encompassed 35,000 square feet of office space.
Cleary said there is a clause in the blight ordinance that would provide a 120-day exemption from enforcement if there is a pending zoning application.
"Once we set the plan for abatement, that's when they're entitled to the 120-day exemption, " Cleary said.
According to the zoning application, the remaining 17.7 acres of the Plant Factory parcel would remain undeveloped. The applicants admit, in filing for the medical office building, admit the long-time garden shop and nursery is "sometimes described as an eyesore."