Day care center approved for Meadow Street

The former location of Cornerstone Christian Center at 192 Meadow Street will be converted into the new home of Once Upon a Time Development Center, following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approval on Nov. 15. The board granted a special permit and amendment to a site plan approval.

Gina Rivera, the day care center’s owner and director, told the board that the building’s exterior would remain unchanged, other than the addition of an outdoor play area and two parking spaces for the handicapped. Rivera said the interior of the building would be remodeled.

Two adjoining neighbors spoke in favor of the project, while also asking that the shrubs and trees on the property be better maintained. Bruce Kolwicz of 180 Meadow Street said the church is supposed to keep the fence and shrubbery in good repair, but has not done that. He said the day care center was “a good use” for the property.

In response to the fence and landscaping concerns, Rivera said, “We will definitely have that taken care of. I want it to look nice and be safe.”

A couple in a nearby house questioned the use at this location, saying there is already too much traffic in the area, which is the junction of Meadow Street and West River Street.

Patricia Wilson of 317 West River Street said she was not against the day care center but said, “The traffic on this corner is terrible. People constantly run the stop sign.” She also said, “The church does not have a lot of parking.”

Alexander Souden of 317 West River Street said, “The stop sign on Meadow Street is an accident waiting to happen.” Souden also said people park in the fire zone in front of the church building where parking is not permitted.

The day care center is moving from 326 West Main Street, said Rivera, a building shared with other tenants. She said there are never more than 12 staff cars at one time.

She currently has a state license for 147 children, and that number will drop to 130 children at the Meadow Street location.

Rivera said morning drop-offs take place between 7 and 9 a.m. and commented, “There are never more than three to five cars at any one time.”

Wilson responded to Rivera’s remarks by saying that the drop-offs at the day care center would take place at the same time parents are bringing their children to Mathewson School. Wilson said many of the parents do not stop at the stop sign.

“There is just too much traffic for this particular school to be located on this street,” said Wilson, asking for a traffic study on the proposal. “We can’t even get out of our driveway now.”

City Planner David B. Sulkis said the police department did not review the traffic conditions in the area and did not recommend a traffic study. Referring to the church operation, Sulkis said, “The prior use was much more intense.”
Other day care plan tabled
In other business, the board tabled a proposal from Maria Torres to establish a day care center at 604 Naugatuck Avenue in a building at the corner of Cottage Street owned by Kingdom Life Christian Church.

The project requires a special permit and site plan review, and drew no public comment. Torres agreed to extend the public hearing date by 30 days to give the board sufficient time to collect additional information on the proposal.

Torres said the day care center would have 40 children, and said there would be a fenced playground in the back of the building protected from the parking lot by bollards. Torres said the project has 13 parking spaces.

Sulkis countered by saying that the property at 604 Naugatuck Avenue has only four parking spaces, but 14 are required, based on the building size.

He said that Torres is proposing to use parking in a lot owned by the church at 604 Naugatuck Avenue where there is a two-bay maintenance garage. In order to use that for day care parking, he said, Torres would have to present a lease for the spaces, and the board would have to determine if there was sufficient parking.

Sulkis said the police department rejected the application, and in response Torres submitted additional information, but he said the police department had not yet responded. He said the fire department is requiring installation of a sprinkler system.

Referring to the Kingdom Life office at 597 Naugatuck Avenue, Torres said, “The church granted employees permission to park across the street. Employees will not park behind the building.”