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Traffic Study May Kill Controversial Excelsior Boulevard Day Care

The owners said the day care would provide a necessary service. Interlachen residents questioned whether it was the right fit for the area.

UPDATED 2:58 p.m. July 11: The property owners now say they are waiting to decide whether to go through with the traffic study.

 

Interlachen neighbors worried about noise from a proposed extended-hour day care at Excelsior and Blake. They worried about vehicles driving in and out. They worried about parking. But in the end, it may be the cost of a traffic study that kills the project.

Family Resources and Child Care Center had applied for a conditional use permit to operate a 46-child day care at 8383 Excelsior Blvd., the site of an old interior design studio. Unlike a traditional day care, this one was to be open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week in order to accommodate parents working untraditional hours.

Frances Davis and Rachel Sampong, who represented the company Tuesday before the , fended off questions from worried neighbors during a lengthy hearing. By the time the hearing concluded, the council seemed to be leaning toward requirements in line with the procedures Davis and Sampong already expected to have in place.

But both the council and the neighbors—including one planning commissioner and one former planning commissioner—wanted the company to pay for a traffic study examining whether the area could accommodate the extra activity.

Davis worried that the $3,000 to $5,000 study would be a lot for a new business to put up. After the discussion, she told City Planner Nancy Anderson that she was withdrawing the application.

The city has not yet received formal, written notice of the withdrawal, Anderson said.

The Excelsior Boulevard property is already zoned for business, and day cares are allowed with a conditional use permit. Davis added that there’s demand for extended hours from workers on unusual shifts—some of whom live in nearby Westside Village and work at companies like Supervalu.

“Where do they take their kids?” she asked. “This is something I believe that the community needs.

Yet Family Resources faced pushback early on.  Residents contacted city staff, primarily to express concerns about traffic. At a Zoning and Planning meeting June 26, residents worried about other issues—including the possibility of noise next to homes, parking, pedestrian traffic, landscaping, the hours of operation and more.

Davis countered that the center would use minivans to pick up and drop off children—minimizing the traffic volume. She also promised that the children wouldn’t be outside playing late and that the center would meet state day care requirements.

But the residents’ concerns persisted into Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“I do believe this is a need for children and parents,” said Ellen Skahan, a Maple Hill Road resident who lives near the site. “But I just believe that within our area we have a lot of things—we have a golf course, we have a huge school, we have a church—we have a lot of things that are causing traffic already in our neighborhood. We just don’t need one more thing to be causing more traffic.”

Council members wound up the discussion by ordering the traffic study and penciling in further talks after that study is complete—possibly taking it up at the second meeting in August.

“I’m not saying we’re putting conditions on to make it more difficult for you to do this. That’s not our goal,” Mayor Gene Maxwell said. “We have a neighborhood to protect. At the same time, we also want your business to thrive. So somewhere, we have to mesh those two together.”

Whether that can happen remains to be seen. For now, the project is still alive because Family Resources has not yet given the city formal notice.

 

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Emily B July 17, 2012 at 07:09 PM
This would be such a great resource for the families of the Blake Road Corridor, I hope they are able to find a good location for it, should this one not work.
James Warden (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I'll be checking tomorrow to find out what the company decided and should have a story up as soon as I hear something. Stay tuned.
James Warden (Editor) July 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Looks like it's not coming to Hopkins: http://hopkins.patch.com/articles/owners-withdraw-excelsior-boulevard-day-care-application

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