Day care gets OK despite neighbors’ opposition

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Westbrook resident Tamara Gallagher has received Planning Board approval to open a home day care at her residence at 51 Presidential Way.

WESTBROOK — A home day care has been approved in the Presidential View neighborhood despite neighbors’ concerns.

The Planning Board on Tuesday approved the day care at 51 Presidential Way with a 6-1 vote. Board member Dennis Isherwood was opposed.

The day care, which will be operated by Tamara Gallagher in her home, is permitted to have up to 12 children under the age of 13. The home is in the Residential Growth Area 3 zone, under which the business will be considered a conditional use.

At a public hearing Tuesday night, attorney Andrew Broaddus addressed the board, saying he represents 17 neighbors who are opposed to the home daycare. The residents have held a series of neighborhood meetings since the project first went to workshop on July 18.

Broaddus said his clients have a number of concerns, including that quality of life will be diminished and that safety will become an issue. A main concern, Broaddus said, is that “traffic will exponentially increase there.”

The Presidential View subdivision, which is located off of Duck Pond Road, has around 30 single-family homes in it. According to Zillow, homes in the neighborhood are valued on average between $400,000-$450,000.

Resident Ron Winslow, whose home at 41 Presidential Way abuts Gallagher’s home, said the day care will decrease the value of his home because of “screaming kids feet away from my house” and “cars parked in front of my home.” He said the day care will have a negative impact on the “serenity of the neighborhood.”

Gallagher said her business, which is called Growing Tree Childcare, won’t affect the “tranquility” of the neighborhood any more than any other home does.

“Within 500 feet of my house there are 18 kids who live on the road,” she said. “There are kids playing, there are kids yelling, screaming, running around.”

The business was approved with the condition that Gallagher must install a fence along her property before she can open her business. She said a fence is being installed this week.

An additional condition of approval is that Gallagher must upgrade her septic system within one year.

Jennie Franceschi, the city’s director of planning and code enforcement, said neighbors’ concerns about traffic and safety are unfounded. She said members of the fire, police, code enforcement, engineering and planning departments each reviewed Gallagher’s plan.

Franceschi said the road, which is 24 feet wide, meets the city’s standard for road width.

“It is not any more narrow than any other city street that is in a local residential neighborhood,” she said.

If the road was too narrow to accommodate on-street parking and passing cars, the subdivision wouldn’t have been approved, Franceschi said. She said city staff have also determined that traffic on the street will not increase substantially because of the business.

One parking space is required for each employee, of which Gallagher will have two or three, and the board determined Gallagher’s driveway is large enough to accommodate the spaces.

Gallagher said her business will operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. According to Growing Tree Childcare’s Facebook page, the business is scheduled to open Sept. 5.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Westbrook resident Tamara Gallagher has received Planning Board approval to open a home day care at her residence at 51 Presidential Way.

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