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Lewis planners approve rehab of former village office, old jail

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LOWVILLE — Rehabilitation projects on two former government buildings here have gotten the green light from the Lewis County Planning Board.

The board on Thursday by 4-0 votes approved plans for conversion of the former village municipal building at 5402 Dayan St. into a medical office and the old Lewis County jail at 7514 S. State St. into office space and supportive temporary housing for males ages 18 to 25.

“It’s long overdue,” county Planning Board Chairman Dennis R. Lee said following approval of the municipal building project. “They’ll do a great job.”

Dr. Steven L. Lyndaker and his wife, Dr. Shereen E. Palmer, who lease office space in the Medical Arts Building at Lewis County General Hospital, in February bought the historic Dayan Street structure, once the Lowville Elks Lodge, from the village for $65,000 at an auction.

“This project will allow us to expand our medical practice, facilitate the accessibility of needed services for the community and help enhance the downtown Lowville area,” Drs. Lyndaker and Palmer wrote in a brief letter submitted with their plans for the Dayan Street Medical Office.

The two-story structure “will be significantly modified internally,” and a small addition is planned on the east side of the 6,360-square-foot building to accommodate a handicapped-accessible entrance and elevator, according to a project review done by Eric J. Virkler, the county’s director of economic development and planning.

“The medical practice will generate many visits per day, but in relation to the existing traffic counts, it would not appear to be significant,” Mr. Virkler wrote.

With its approval, the county panel recommended that the village Planning Board seek clarification about on-site lighting, especially if evening hours are planned. The applicant also should check with the state Department of Transportation to determine whether any highway-access permits are needed and be aware of a spot on the east side of the building where rainwater sometimes pools, the board said.

Meanwhile, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York in 2011 bought the old jail from the county for $1 with the intent to renovate the first floor for office space and develop eight housing units upstairs.

“The Gateway Project will contribute to neighborhood revitalization by meeting the demand for affordable housing in an area that is close to services,” said a project description submitted by the agency.

The agency has retained architect Randall Crawford of Crawford & Stearns, Syracuse, and plans to bring back the original wrap-around porch and other preserved historic details of the building, it said.

“The existing building will be significantly modified internally with only cosmetic external renovations,” said a review done by Mr. Virkler.

County board members in their approval noted that while the project technically may violate a village code requirement that parking be at least 10 feet from lot lines, they don’t believe a variance would be necessary because of the historic use dating back to before the codes were established.

Both projects still require approval from the village Planning Board. Public hearings on both have been set for 6:30 p.m. July 1 in the municipal office building on Bostwick Street.

The county Planning Board on Thursday also approved plans by Miller’s Spraying to construct a 72-by-120-foot building for seed storage at its office on Route 26 in the town of Lowville and by Verizon Wireless to construct a 195-foot-tall communication tower off Route 26 in the town of Lewis, about 2 miles north of West Leyden.

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