by Terry Rogers
On Monday, July 27, Milford City Council approved a request from Hattie Harris to open a new daycare center, known as the Triumph Youth Center, at 350 Milford-Harrington Highway. The new daycare center will be located in a shopping center in a section that was formerly a convenience store.
“There was a gas station at the location but the pumps and tanks have since been removed,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “The applicant is planning to completely restripe the parking lot and will be leasing land behind the facility for a fenced playground. A striped crosswalk will be installed for safe access to the playground. Children will be dropped off and picked up in the back of the building as well. Planning and Zoning approved the request with one no vote. The person who voted no felt the daycare was too close to the liquor store in the shopping center.”
Pierce explained that there is a provision in City Code that prevents an establishment that sells liquor from opening near a church, school or daycare center. However, if a daycare center wants to open near a liquor store, there is nothing that prevents them from doing so. Pierce stated that if the liquor store should close and remain closed for 12 months, they would not be able to open again in that location based on code.
Acting City Solicitor Jamie Moore stated that the Alcoholic Beverage Commission had wording in their regulations regarding where liquor stores could be located in relation to churches, schools and daycares. He explained that the City Code is similar to the ABC regulations. Chief of Police Kenny Brown told Council that the liquor store was not a problem for the police.
“This was a convenience store but now it is an empty building,” Councilman Todd Culotta said. “We really don’t want to make this to complicated.”
Phillip McGinnis, who was at the meeting representing Harris, stated that he felt the application was fair.
“Hattie Harris picked out this location knowing there was a liquor store there,” McGinniss said. “We added a hashed crosswalk to the playground. As for the liquor store, these are small children, not teens. The entrance and exit is in the back while the liquor store entrance is in the front. Children will be supervised at all times. Honestly, a parent has the option whether or not to use this daycare facility.”
The conditional use request passed with a vote of 5 to 3. Councilman Dan Mirabello felt that the application was inconsistent with Code while Councilman Andy Fulton felt that putting a daycare this close to a liquor store did not meet the intent of the law. Councilman Brian Baer also voted no but did not state a reason.
Councilman Mike Boyer voted yes although he felt that the selection of the site was not the best decision. Councilman Culotta voted yes because daycares are needed and that there were other areas in Milford with daycares in close proximity to liquor stores. Councilman Doug Morrow stated that he was reluctantly voting yes because daycares were needed. Councilman Jason James also reluctantly voted yes as council should not impede decisions on placement of the business. Both Councilman Morrow and Councilman James were pleased that the pick up and drop off of children would be in the back of the building, away from the entrance of the liquor store.
“I, too, reluctantly vote yes,” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said. “It did ease my mind to hear about the entrance and exits in the rear. As far as daycare centers, there are not enough and although I am concerned about a daycare next to a liquor store, I see the need in our town for affordable daycare.”