Two proposals for day care centers were presented to the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals Monday night. In the end, though, only one would get the nod to proceed.
Rainbow Rascal II Daycare is proposing to build a 10,650-square-foot facility on Capital Drive between Golden Corral and the Kosciusko County Visitor’s Center. The center and a parking lot for 35 spaces would complete Phase I. Phase II of the project would include a second facility of equal size and an additional 35 space parking lot.
After hearing four opponents to the proposed day care center cite reasons such as possible noise issues, the Warsaw BZA ultimately had to ask the basic questions to determine findings of fact. While a recommendation was made to keep the natural husbandry on the land bordering the ridge that leads up to a residential neighborhood and honor a 40-foot easement, the board passed the use variance for the day care center. The area is already zoned C-3 commercial.
Greg Roberts, representing Donovan Engineering that has been contracted for the project, said Rainbow Rascall II Daycare will employ approximately 22 staff members and serve infants and children through age 12.
Last night’s vote was not to accept a site plan, but just an approval of the use of the land.
A second day care request, however, did not earn the board’s blessing. Attorney Steve Snyder represented Growing Kids Learning Center in its request for a use variance and a variance from development standards to build a child care center in a residential district.
The site Growing Kids had hoped to use was at 501 N. Harrison St. The lot currently has a single family residence on it and is bordered to the east by Harrison Street, to the south by Sheridan Street, and to the west and north by more single family residences.
The initial problem with the request is that current Warsaw code does not allow any special exceptions in R-1 zoning. That would prove to be an obstacle Growing Kids could not overcome.
Warsaw Common Councilman Jeff Grose, who represents the district where the day care was proposing to build, spoke against the petition. “I’m all for increased opportunities for parents and families, but I feel this building should go where it’s properly zoned elsewhere,” he said. “The red flag for me is all the things they have to jump through to get this here.”
BZA president Tom Allen agreed with Grose that “this is not even allowed in our rules.” While city attorney Mike Valentine told the board they could grant it, the concerns each member had outweighed the positives.
Snyder called the day care center in the residential area “a plus for the neighborhood” with schools nearby, the Y building a new facility close by and the medical services plaza that is nearby. He also said an OrthoWorx survey found the need for more licensed day care centers in Warsaw. “Warsaw has no year-round licensed day care centers,” he added.
Although the city planning department gave Growing Kids a positive recommendation for the land use, the Warsaw BZA voted 4-0 against it. Member Rick Keeven was the only board member not in attendance.
In one other act of business, Ron Shoemaker was sworn in as a new Warsaw BZA member. Shoemaker assumes the seat left vacant by the death of Mary Ellen Jordan, who was killed in a car accident July 18.
The Warsaw BZA members are Tom Allen, Tammy Dalton, Jack Wilhite, Rick Keeven and Ron Shoemaker. Elaine Call serves as the city council representative as a non-voting member.