BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – Bronxville Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Richard Szypula announced that he would recuse himself from any further discussions and decisions regarding the proposed Lawrence Hospital addition.
Citing a “perceived conflict of interest,” Szypula sent a letter to Village Administrator Harold Porr last month.
"I have, in my personal capacity, a pending proposal for a boundary and topographic survey from Chazen Companies, Dutchess County Office, and have concluded that consistent with the provisions of Section 21.4 of the Bronxville Code of Ethics, I should not participate in the zoning variance application of the Lawrence Hospital Center. I hereby recuse myself from participation in that application," the letter states in part.
Chazen Companies had done preliminary environmental impact studies on behalf of the hospital early in the approval process
Since the planning board is the lead agency representing the village in the application process, Szypula had no reason to review those documents and was unaware of the conflict, he said.
Hospital President Edward Dinan, who has attended almost all of the Zoning Board meetings when the project is on the agenda, was not present at the meeting on Tuesday night. Alissa Holland, a hospital spokesperson, said Wednesday that Dinan was out of town and unavailable for comment on Szypula’s decision.
The hospital has proposed a three-story addition slated to be located on the northeast portion of the hospital's existing building. The addition would add an estimated 39,000 square feet of space to the building and would mostly be devoted to a cancer center. The basement floor is planned to be the site of a radiation therapy center, and the first floor would be devoted to an oncology infusion center. The third floor is planned to have six new updated operating rooms, which are currently 50 years old.
In order to construct the plan as proposed, the hospital will need variances from village codes that will allow the footprint of the addition to come within two feet of the sidewalk, and put it directly across a narrow street from the condos on Alger Court.
Szypula announced last month that the village would hire an architectural consultant who specializes in hospitals and planning to give advice on the proposed addition to Lawrence Hospital, and that the hospital would foot the bill for the consultant.
“The consultant will review all of the submissions made by the hospital and state codes and village codes," Szypula said. "We will then be advised about what kinds of questions we should be asking."
Szypula made it clear that the board would listen to both sides in a process that suited the board. He said he would not allow Lawrence Hospital representatives to speak until after residents were allowed to express their concerns.
Neighbors there said they fear noise from huge chillers and HVAC units that will be right across from their windows. The project also calls for the removal of 31 mature trees.
Alger Court resident Helen Levitz, who has attended all of the planning and zoning board meetings regarding the hospital, said Szypula will be missed.
“We are stunned. We see no conflict of interest. We ask the Hospital to demonstrate their professed concern for our village by joining us in requesting reinstatement of Richard Szypula, one of Bronxville's most respected public servants, to his full responsibilities as Zoning Board Chairman in the LHC petition,” Levitz said. “So far, the neighbors have not demanded disclosure of any present, recent, or continuing support of LHC by all village officials who are or may be involved in the LHC application decision. We would consider these activities to present potential direct and practical conflicts of interest.”