8705 Germantown Ave. is the intended destination of the dental practice.

by Wesley Ratko
The Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee voted Sept. 5 to approve the plans of orthodontist Jacob Orozco and his wife, pediatric dentist Abbey Sullivan-Orozco, to open a new dental practice in the Top of the Hill plaza at 8705 Germantown Ave.
The couple had asked for support from the community association to obtain a special exception from the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to operate the practice. Because the practice – to be called Top of the Hill Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry – would have more than one practitioner. the zoning code requires that it receive a “special exception” from the city, a common regulatory element of zoning placed on allowed uses that warrants additional examination from the ZBA.

“We loved the space, we loved the town,” Orozco said, adding that the proximity of the office to public transportation and available parking make it an ideal location. “Also, there isn’t another orthodontist or pediatric dentist in Chestnut Hill.”

Orozco told the committee that he and his wife reached out to the neighboring businesses in and around the plaza and encountered nothing but support and encouragement. He said they distributed letters to neighbors door-to-door explaining their plans, but that they didn’t collect any signatures.

“Three people even asked about jobs,” Orozco said.

Part of the Orozco’s lease entitles them to use 20 parking spaces in the rear lot. At most, Orozco said, they would see nine patients at a time once the practice is running at full capacity, in addition to a total of six or seven employees. Only two employees in addition to the Orozcos will be there at the beginning.

At first, Orozco said he expected the practice to be open four days a week, staggered at first, with each dentist in the office two days a week.

The space is 3,820 square feet, which Orozco said is more room than the practice will need at first. Orozco showed the committee the fit-out plans for the space, and explained that as the practice grows more chairs will be added. Ultimately the plan is to provide five chairs for orthodontic patients, three chairs for pediatric-dental patients, and two hygienist chairs for cleanings.

Medical waste will be stored inside the office until it can be picked up by a service. As of Thursday night, however, the Orozcos said they were unsure about the frequency of those pickups, saying it would depend on how busy their practice becomes.

From the street, the office interior will be obscured by an opaque cover over the lower half of the front windows. The upper part will be left to allow natural light into the office.

Signs advertising the practice will be limited to a simple banner over the upper part of the windows hung along the inner walkway. The committee expressed some concern about whether the signs would hang over the pedestrian walkway. Orozco said that clearing the zoning issue in order to open was their main concern and that approval for signs would be sought in a separate application to the city. He added that the landlord is working on getting more signs for all the tenants in the Top of the Hill shopping center.

At some point, the practice may expand to include a second pediatric dentist, but Orozco told the committee there would only ever be one orthodontist.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend support the special exception application.

  • June Goodwin

    The dental couple had to humiliate themselves in front of the LUPZ committee in order to get their support for a variance to locate their practice in this space in Chestnut Hill. They were reducing to begging to be allowed to set up their practice! Out int he suburbs, no such problem as they would simply rent space and that is it.

    We need to revise further ZBA regs to enable businesses to locate in a space that is already zoned for their presence without having to get the “approval” of a community organization. We need all the jobs we can get and we need to make it easier for business people to relocate to rented space in buildings already zoned to accept their business.