A St. Paul company is trying again to start a Hopkins day care after a representative slammed the community’s business climate four months ago in the face of neighbor opposition and a traffic study that prompted them to back off their initial plan.
Hopkins’ Zoning and Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended that the City Council grant a conditional use permit to Family Resources & Child Care Center for a facility at 126 Blake Road N. The company plans a four-classroom day care that will serve up to 62 children.
Family Resources initially tried to start an extended-hours day care facility at Excelsior and Blake. The Excelsior Boulevard property is already zoned for business, and day cares are allowed there with a conditional use permit.
But the company faced pushback early on. Residents worried primarily about traffic—although neighbors also expressed concern about the possibility of noise next to homes, parking, pedestrian traffic, landscaping, the hours of operation and more.
Family Resources eventually withdrew its application when the City Council . With that location off the table, the owners planned to start looking for a new property. Rachel Sampong, an attorney who represents the company, said at that time that she didn’t expect the site to be in Hopkins—in part because of the way she felt residents responded.
Much has changed since that time, though. Almost everybody involved in the original plan has withdrawn, in part because of the reaction they faced, Sampong told Patch Wednesday. That left just a single proprietor—who owns the Somali restaurant, Sambusa King, near the proposed day care site. The proximity of the restaurant to the day care will allow it to provide meals and snacks for the children.
The change of location has changed the business plan, though. In order to serve workers on unusual shifts, the company originally planned to stay open from 6 a.m. until midnight and bus children in from across the Twin Cities.
It will now be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and parents will drop their children off, Sampong said. She expects the customer base to be more local, primarily the East African immigrant community in the area.
But the project has so far not faced the resistance that the Excelsior Road plan did. The site has ample parking and is near the Hopkins Arby’s, not a residential neighborhood.
No one showed at Tuesday’s Zoning and Planning meeting to oppose the idea, and commissioners liked the thought of bringing an occupant into a vacant property.
“It is a good place. It’s a good use for the building,” said Commissioner Aaron Kuznia.
The City Council will consider the center’s conditional use permit request at its meeting Tuesday.