A dentist who wanted to open an office in a residential area of the Town of Tonawanda failed to convince the Town Board on Monday night that he would also be using the home as his residence, which was a condition of the permit he was seeking.
Kumar P. Neppalli was unanimously denied the special-use permit for a resident professional office at 1615 Sheridan Drive. Neppalli proposed using 200 square feet of the 2,000-square-foot home to treat patients and would make no modifications to the exterior of the home.
But he also told the board that he would not be selling his Clarence home, which prompted the board’s doubts.
Neppalli’s attorney, Corey A. Auerbach, said it was unfair to assume that the dentist wouldn’t also use the home as his primary residence. “The fact that he’ll continue to own a home in Clarence is not determinative that he’s not going to live in this home in Tonawanda,” he said.
Town Attorney John J. Flynn advised the board to deny the permit.
“We have overwhelming circumstantial evidence here, OK, that’s been set forth on the record that shows this is not going to be his primary residence,” he said.
Auerbach said that Neppalli deserved a chance to prove he would abide by the permit’s requirements and noted that the permit must be renewed annually.
“You’re holding a man on trial for something he hasn’t been given an opportunity to do yet,” he said.
Councilman John A. Bargnesi said Neppalli had “bent over backwards” to accommodate local law and the neighbors’ concerns, but voted against the plan after the discussion Monday night. Bargnesi said that there are six special-use permits for “resident professional offices” in the town, typically for doctors and lawyers.
Several neighbors also spoke out against the plan during a lengthy public hearing, including Robin R. Collins, a neighbor.
“(Neppalli) came to my door, and I told him then, ‘If you want to live here and be a part of the community, we will all open our arms to you. But if you want to bring your practice here get off my property and don’t come back.’ I haven’t seen him since.”
Frank J. Maraschiello, a Lowell Road resident behind the Sheridan Drive home, said he preferred the area remain as single-family homes.
“I’m 110 percent against this and I have nothing against the doctor,” he said. “If his family was going to live there I’d cut a hole in the fence, they could come swim in my pool.”
Councilwoman Lisa M. Chimera said she was concerned about residents’ complaints of a lack of upkeep and maintenance on the property since Neppalli purchased it in January.
“Knowing that you haven’t even made an effort, I could never vote yes for something like this,” she said.