A Berwyn woman who wants to open a daycare center at 2722-26 Harlem Ave. in Riverside will have to wait until at least January to get thumbs up or down from village trustees, who delayed a vote on allowing her a special use permit for the business at their meeting on Nov. 15.
Marisol Castellano, who has been providing daycare services at her Berwyn home for the past eight years, has asked to open Happy Times Child Development in a pair of adjoining vacant commercial spaces in a small strip shopping center that also is home to a dental office and Chinese restaurant.
The daycare center would be for children up to age 12 and would operate between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, according to information provided by the village.
During a hearing in October before the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission, Castellano said the maximum capacity of the daycare center would be 50 children, along with six full-time and four part-time employees.
Castellano said she currently cares for 20 children from eight families at her home daycare. While there is no onsite space to provide outdoor recreation for the children, Castellano said she has verbal assurance from the Berwyn Park District that Happy Times Child Development would be able to use Proksa Park, about three blocks to the southeast, in Berwyn.
Both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the village board voted to amend the zoning code to allow daycare centers as special uses in the B1-C district, which includes the Harlem Avenue strip mall. However, village trustees on Nov. 15 expressed reservations about locating a daycare center at the intersection of Longcommon Road and Harlem Avenue.
For one thing, trustees were concerned about congestion and traffic during peak drop-off and pickup times in the morning and evenings. While Castellano provided trustees a plan, trustees still weren’t convinced and Trustee Elizabeth Peters said she wanted the Planning and Zoning Commission to review that plan.
“That intersection is so hard, it just makes me feel like I’d like to have a second opinion about that plan and whether or not it’s going to work for that intersection,” Peters said.
Trustee Doug Pollock also expressed reservations about traffic around the strip mall during peak drop-off and pickup times.
“I’m very concerned about the congestion,” Pollock said. “A daycare is unique in the sense that it’s not a high-volume traffic generator, but it generates all the traffic at one time.
“I just don’t know if this property is suitable for that type of use.”
Trustee Joseph Ballerine, meanwhile, asked Castellano to provide a tentative floor plan for the daycare center so that it could be reviewed by the village’s building department and public safety chiefs.
“I would think it would be prudent for you to have a plan, even if it’s a rough plan,” Ballerine said. “If something happens in that building, we’re the ones that gave you permission to put 20 kids in there.”
Castellano told Ballerine she could provide the village something, but added that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would have final say over such a plan.
Trustee Wendell Jisa asked how the children would get to Proksa Park in Berwyn. Castellano said that small groups of children would cross Harlem Avenue on foot in the company of their teachers to get to the park at different times during the day.
Riverside trustees are expected to resume deliberations about granting a special use permit for the daycare center at their meeting on Jan. 17, 2019.