BAR OKs COA for Pediatric Clinic

BLYTHEWOOD – Second time was the charm for representatives of Palmetto Pediatric & Adolescent Clinic when they appeared before the Blythewood Board of Architectural Review (BAR) on Monday evening to request approval for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). This time, the board approved the request, but with contingencies.

Applicant Harris Cohn of Cohn Construction Services, LLC, represented the clinic owners in his request to the BAR for approval to construct an approximately 5,408 square foot clinic on a vacant .76-acre site located at 121 Blythewood Road (across from the Companion Animal Hospital).

Town Administrator Brian Cook reviewed for the board the problems with the plans as submitted at the July meeting – the locations of the parking on the lot and the building façade.

Cohn distributed new drawings for a new design for the facade and landscaping.

Project Architect Matt Davis pointed out on the new elevation drawing that the front arched wall that was an issue during the prior meeting was now reduced in height by two feet making it 14 feet high.

“Instead of the simple four-sided hip roof, we have added detailing with metal roofed gables and gable vents on the sides and a light to medium-colored bronze metal eyebrow,” Davis said.

The Town’s architectural advisor Ralph Walden said he was personally pleased with the end result presented Monday night.

”It is consistent in bringing forth a distinctive character, not as plain,” Walden said.

Davis said he and Cohn have worked together on five prior Palmetto clinics.

In discussing the Board’s prior concern about placing parking in front of the building, Cohn said the parking is landlocked on the site with only 35 parking places for the proposed 5,408 square foot building. He said the site size would not al low for moving the four parking spaces in front of the building to the rear as the board suggested at the previous meeting.

According to Cohn, the Lexington clinic has 67 parking spots and is only 1000 sq foot bigger. The downtown location has 58 spaces, Clemson has 57 and Broad River has 60.

“It takes 8 to 12 spots just for staff for the 8 to 10 exam rooms,” Cohn said. “These patients are families with sick children and they frequently drive vans and SUVs. They tend to come in waves like back to school, the beginning of the school year, end of summer, flu season. The worst thing is for a parent to bring a sick child and there is no parking for them,” he said.

Cohn said the client would be open to building modifications and landscaping changes but that the 35 parking spaces are the challenge.

“This is the main area where they need concessions,” Cohn said. “If we lose the four front spots it would be a challenge to make this work functionally. They need parking to make this a viable business.”

The new design submitted Monday evening includes a berm across the front of the property along Blythewood Road. Board Chairwoman Pam Dukes questioned the measurements.

“The berm is two feet tall and will have two- to four-foot tall plantings in addition to the trees,” Davis said. “It will cover 40 feet to the right (of the driveway) and 50 feet to the left. The berm is 10 feet wide, front to back.”

“How far is it from the road to the parking,” Dukes asked?

“Thirty-feet,” Harris said.

“I think the berm is a great idea,” board member Debra Humphries said. “It will satisfy not wanting to see the asphalt from Blythewood Road.”

“We’re trying to avoid the Two Notch Road look,” said Co-Chairman Jim McLean. “It (the clinic) would be an asset for the town, but we’re trying to look at it for the long term.”

Board member Cindy Nord suggested it might be a “Pandora’s Box.”

“I can see it both ways,” Dukes said. “As a parent I can see how great it would be to have a pediatric clinic here.”

Cohn said he worked on this same site six years ago for Providence but it was pulled for the parking issue.

“That’s where they (Palmetto Pediatric) are at now. We can do landscaping and building changes but parking is the issue” Cohn said.

Walden suggested the plants on the berm could be set with a minimum size and that they could make a special request to sculpturally bring some of the façade materials into the berm plantings and have them interwoven into the design of the trees and berm.

“Not necessarily a wall,” he explained, “and not just a hedge, but pulling features into the hedge using some of the material and creating a serpentine structure distinctive to this particular site. That could save a later issue.”

“I personally liked the idea,” Dukes said.

“It does block the view and sets a precedent for having a berm instead of a view of asphalt,” Humphries said.

McLean said he appreciated the group working with the board on the berm and made a motion to approve a COA contingent on architectural elements of the front berm being acceptable. Acceptance of those revisions was deferred to the staff and BAR Chair for approval.

The motion was seconded by Nord and unanimously approved.

Board member Alan George, commercial banker with First Community Bank in Blythewood recused himself from participation in the discussion and vote since the bank is working with Palmetto Pediatrics on a construction loan.

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