Gowanda board denies site plans for proposed mental health clinic

GOWANDA – There will be no proposed mental health clinic in downtown Gowanda – for now. The Gowanda Village Board held a special meeting Monday evening to come to a decision on the proposed Zoar Valley Clinic moving to 42 Jamestown St.

Following a short executive session to discuss a legal matter, Mayor Heather McKeever put a motion on the table to deny the site plans for the proposed health clinic by Savarino Companies.

Savarino Companies proposed building a new building at the former Burger King in the downtown district to replace the current Zoar Valley Clinic on Taylor Hollow Road. The village had to come to a decision Monday on the project due to pending litigation against the village by Savarino Companies.

Within the motion were several reasons why the village was denying the resolution.

McKeever said the Cattaraugus County IDA application submitted by Savarino Companies said jobs were going to be created by the move from the clinic’s current location. The resolution stated the clinic and jobs “on one side of the county line is being being moved to the other side of the county line.” Other reasons for denial included public opposition, the project’s intended use will adversely affect downtown’s business district creation and growth, the planning board did not comply with its duties under law and the project requires a variance and/or special use permit which has yet to be applied for.

The village also said the site plans were incomplete when presented to the village and are missing three items to be considered a complete application. McKeever said a letter has yet to be received from the architect saying certain flood zone ordinances do not apply and a copy of the vacant parking lot lease agreement has not been received.

“The review of this lease is also required. If the lot lease expires or can be canceled during the operation of the facility, the building becomes unusable as it will not comply with zoning law because there will be no parking available to it,” McKeever said.

The third piece missing from the site plan is a copy of the lease between Savarino and the Dormitory Authority of New York State Office of Mental Health. Due to previous conversations the village has had, McKeever said the state has required a bus run for other similar projects. There is no bus route within the village.

“The applicant has refused to provide a copy of the agreement or provide evidence, other than its own oral representations, that a bus route is not now required and will not be required in the future for this project,” the motion states.

The final reason for denial is the village board has pending litigation regarding the project. A group of residents have filed an Article 78 proceeding in state supreme court challenging the planning board’s SEQR review. A hearing has been set for Jan. 24 on this matter.

“The village board should not approve the project until after the hearing … since the court’s determination will ultimately direct whether the project’s SEQR review was adequate or must be (done from the beginning),” McKeever said.

The village board will work with Savarino Companies to address the issues and Savarino may remedy the issues. At that time, the village will reconsider the site plan application. The motion passed unanimously. The village board will host its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com