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Site plan approved for ambulatory care center on Sweet Home Road in Amherst

A proposed ambulatory care center on Sweet Home Road is set to move forward after the site plan was approved Thursday evening by the Amherst Planning Board.

The one-story, 30,000-square-foot surgery center, proposed by the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Western New York, will be at 885 Sweet Home Road. The site currently is a baseball diamond on the campus of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church.

About 200 parking spaces are also included in the plans, said Lowell B. Dewey, an engineer at C&S Companies, who is working on the project. “The intent is to purchase 13 acres” from St. Leo’s Parish, he said.

There are several conditions to the project, said Gary B. Black, assistant planning director for the town, and they mostly involve technical aspects. The issue that the Planning Board discussed in depth Thursday involves construction of an easement between the surgery center and University Corporate Centre at Amherst, which would abut the surgery center to the north.

“What the board wants is to not necessarily open that up to the free flow of traffic,” he said. “It could be for emergency access only. If it is opened up, there would have to be a full traffic study done to determine the impact on Sweet Home and Maple roads.”

During a public hearing on the surgery center before the board, several residents living near the property voiced concerns over traffic and placing a business in a residential area of the town.

Sharon Dombek, who lives across Sweet Home Road from the proposed center, said that an increase in traffic was among her concerns. “There’s a lot of information that the neighbors are not familiar with,” she said, noting that she didn’t know when the center would be open and how it would affect her daily commute. “I get out of work at 5 p.m. Will I be able to get in my driveway when I get home?”

Using the trip-generation manual, Dewey said the traffic from the business would not be greater than the traffic generated by the school that operated on the campus until its closure several years ago. Most of the school is currently being demolished.

“This type of use does not have a real peak-use trip-generation problem,” he said. “It’s essentially going to be less than what was there prior.”

According to JoAnn M. Vecchio, administrator for the Ambulatory Surgery Center of WNY, the new facility will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “It’s a staggered entry and a staggered exit,” she said. “There’s never really a large volume initially or a massive let-out at the same time.”