by Wesley Ratko
A group dental practice to be called “Top of the Hill Orthodontic and Pediatric Dentistry” is coming to Chestnut Hill.
The applicants, orthodontist Jake Orozco and his wife, pediatric dentist Abbey Sullivan-Orozco, did not attend the Tuesday August 20 meeting of the Development Review Committee but were represented by their lawyer Mike Gumbel.
Gumbel told the DRC that the applicants plan to move into a space in the Top of the Hill shopping center at 8705 Germantown Ave. The previous tenant, KCBA Architects, moved out last year.
The dental practice is looking for support from the DRC for a “special exception” to the zoning on the property. While the shopping center is zoned to allow for a single medical practice, a group practice with more than one doctor requires the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to grant a special exception before they can begin their operation.
Gumbel told the DRC that there are no plans to change the building’s exterior. Gumbel did present plans for changes to the building’s interior.
Architect John Romano, representing the newly renamed Streetscape Committee, pressed Gumbel for details regarding signs depicted on the plans. Romano had several issues with the placement and the size of the signs and suggested that the applicants submit a separate application to the DRC in order to work through those issues.
Gumbel said the illustrations provided to the DRC were merely conceptual, and not intended as a formal depiction of what they intend to install as signage. He added that with all of the elements involved in opening the new practice and getting it off the ground, that signs were the least of the applicants’ worries.
“The sign variance will come later,” he said, adding the main concern was getting the special exception that would allow them to open the practice.
“We want to do that with as little hassle as possible,” he said.
Details about the scale of the operation have yet to be determined. To start, Gumbel said that both practitioners will only be at site part-time as they grow their new business. In addition to the Orozcos, there would also be two dental assistants and two office personnel. Parking for both patients and staff would be in the off-street parking lot at the rear of the property.
John Landis, co-chair of the DRC and an LUPZ member, expressed some concern that while that arrangement would be fine in the short-term, he wanted to ensure that as the volume of business increases that the parking at the site is not overwhelmed.
He suggested to Gumbel that the applicants should obtain a letter from the landlord expressing both support for the new tenant and some guarantee that parking for the practice would be adequate. Other DRC members suggested the applicant get letters of support from neighboring tenants.
Historic District Advisory Committee representative Patricia Cove recommended that the proposal be brought before the Historical Society. Cove said that while neither the building nor the use is historic, the HDAC is a Registered Community Organization in Chestnut Hill and entitled to the same notification as the other RCOs.
The DRC voted unanimously to send the proposal to the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee for review and comment; their next meeting is Thursday, September 5.