Planning board: Don't box the bank

The artist renderings of proposed renovations to the KeyBank on the Four Corners in Delmar have drawn skepticism and outright criticism from the majority on the Bethlehem Planning Board.

KeyBank is proposing to renovate the actual building, along with making several changes to the site that would include new planters, walkways and park benches. The problem arose when architects originally sought to place the bank's heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment on the roof of building and make the three separate units of the building appear as one.

They eventually decided to keep the HVAC system on the ground.

The result, in many of the board members' eyes: a big box.

My main comment is that it's awfully boxy in a part of town where there's a lot of pitched roofs, said planning board member Katherine McCarthy. "I can tell you what I'm not looking for, a big box."

Fellow board member Kate Powers agreed.

"I agree. I believe the comprehensive plan calls for sloped roofs. This is a major departure from what is there," Powers said of the renderings shown at the meeting. "This is a crucial area of town; this is the Four Corners; and this is the area everyone focuses on when they come to town. I think you can do better."

McCarthy added, "I'm also worried about setting a precedent."

Board member Christine Motta also agreed with the "boxiness" of the proposal, but said she did like the proposed pillars on the outside of the building, adding, "I think the roof needs a little work."

When asked by board member John Smolinsky why the roof was flat even though the HVAC apparatus was going to remain on the ground level, engineer Scott Allen of Woodword, Connors, Gillies and Selleman said it was "functional to tie the building together."

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