Lenox Commons building

A veterinarian has withdrawn, without explanation, an application to relocate to a building in the Lenox Commons development. 

LENOX — The long-vacant former restaurant building at the entrance to the Lenox Commons mixed-use development on Pittsfield Road is going back on the market.

A plan by South Street Veterinary Services in Pittsfield to buy it and relocate there, subject to zoning board approval, has been abandoned without explanation.

In a brief letter to the Zoning Board of Appeals, attorney Jeffrey Lynch wrote that his client, Dr. Raymond Reiners, owner of the clinic on Route 7/20 north of the Lenox town line, has withdrawn his application for a special permit.

Lynch told The Eagle there would be no comment from him or Reiners on the reasons for the application’s withdrawal.

Lenox bylaws do not mention veterinary services as a by-right use in the town, meaning zoning board action is required. However, the board swiftly granted a permit to Dr. Sally Umlauf in May 2013 to open the Lenox Cat Hospital in a small strip mall off Pittsfield Road, north of Holmes Road, where it continues to operate for feline clients.

According to Eagle archives, a cats- only clinic had operated nearby on Pittsfield Road between 1997 and 2001 under a variance granted by the ZBA.

Reiners’ practice applied to the board in August to buy the premises owned by hotelier Navin Shah’s BHG Group. The site formerly housed Bobby Mac’s, Jae’s Asian Bistro, Bennigan’s and two other short-lived eateries since the locally popular Lenox House restaurant closed in 2002 after a 37-year run.

Shah told The Eagle he was “very disappointed and surprised” that the vet clinic project had been withdrawn. “I have no idea why,” he said, adding that he had been holding the property, 55 Pittsfield Road Unit 2, for purchase by veterinary service for almost a year.

He plans to put the building back on the market with an asking price of $1.4 million.

The 7,200 square-foot commercial building, rebuilt in 2006, is owned by Shah separately from the rest of Lenox Commons.

The development contains an antiques emporium, the On a Roll cafe, Chocolate Springs, a martial arts studio, hair salon, barber shop, pet boutique, professional offices and other retail establishments, as well as several medical practices and clinics, including Berkshire Medical Center’s Lenox Family Health.

At the back of the site are the 41 Lenox Woods condominium units whose residents are represented by a homeowners’ association.

The ZBA had planned to review the special permit petition Sept. 1, but the hearing was postponed and then, last week, withdrawn “without prejudice,” according to Lynch’s letter. That means the application could be resubmitted.

The full-service practice, opened in Lenox by Dr. Andrew Breslin in 1976, moved to its current 864 South Street site in 1981. Breslin remains on the staff.

The Lenox Commons location is in the town’s Gateway Mixed Use Development Overlay District seeking to “foster a greater opportunity for creative development by providing guidelines which encourage a mix of uses compatible with existing and neighboring properties.”

While the district’s bylaws prohibit an animal hospital that provides walk-in, 24-hour emergency care and overnight stays, there is no provision in the town’s zoning bylaws either allowing or prohibiting a veterinary practice, which has defined days and hours of operation.

The Lenox Planning Board had approved the site plan for the vet clinic project in August and wrote to the zoning board recommending its approval.

“After discussion and research, the board determined that it believes the use ‘veterinary clinic’ is quite similar to the eligible use for ‘offices of physicians, dentists …’ and, as such, should be seen as an eligible use within the Gateway District,” the letter stated. “We also believe a veterinary clinic use is consistent with the Gateway’s intended purposes.”

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at