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Conditional use permit approved for in-home daycare which may prompt other permit requests

The St. Charles County Council has approved a controversial conditional use permit [CUP] allowing a home-based day care in the Briargate Estates subdivision that officials say may prompt a half-dozen or more other home-based day cares in  unincorporated areas to seek CUPs.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the bill at its Aug. 29 meeting with councilmebmbers David Hammond [District 4] and Joe Cronin [District 1] opposed.

Meanwhile, the council was warned by County Counselor Keith Hazelwood that as many as seven other day care facilities in the unincorporated area may also be required to seek CUPs. Cronin, who is council chairman, said the council has “kicked the can down the road” too long and may have to update its day care requirements to avoid situations like this.

The permit was sought by April Robison, who has been operating a day-care care service for younger children for about two and a half years at her home at 12 Brynwyck Hall Court. The bill will allow Robison to care for eight children – the same number she serves now.

Although she is licensed by the state of Missouri for up to 10 children, Robison had not previously obtained a CUP from the county to operate a facility that cares for more than four preschool children. She said the requirement was not spelled out clearly on the county’s website. Complaints by some nearby homeowners prompted Robison to apply for the permit.

Concern about the day care was voiced first at the council’s Aug. 8 meeting, but no action was taken. The discussion continued at the council’s Aug. 29 meeting when Nelson Hinz, a 26-year resident of the area,  suggested a compromise that would allow parents to continue to use the center and lessen traffic in the cul-de-sac. Hinz suggested that a permit could allow Robison to care for the eight children already under her care until they no longer required day care. After that, the maximum number of children allowed would be five.

Cronin said the compromise might “give everybody a little bit of what they want” – allowing day care for parents, Robison to keep her business, and limiting the impact on residents while the county works on updating its requirements.

The council voted 4-3 on amending the bill to include the compromise before voting in favor of the CUP. Hazelwood also told the council that its action would not set any precedent in affecting other homeowner association’s enforcement of their indentures. The county doesn’t enforce subdivision covenants, he said.

Denise Schindler, a former president of the Briargate Estates home owners association, told the council that the association determined that the center was a home-based, but not a commercial business, which the Talmadges have challenged.

“The saddest part of this all is that I was told this was a quiet, nice neighborhood where everyone got along,” Cronin said. “And now there is a lot of animosity in the neighborhood and to me that is worse than any daycare you can ever think about.”

Cronin said a lot of that is the fault of the council “because we’ve been kicking daycare issue down the road, doing conditional permits from time to time.” With seven or eight similar permit requests possibly coming down the road, the council should decide then if it wants a maximum of 10 children at home daycare facilities in residential areas, which they may not like, he said.

 

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