9046 31st St., Brookfield (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 27 unanimously recommended against granting a special use permit and zoning relief sought by a pair of business partners to open a daycare center in the first-floor commercial spaces of the building at 9046 31st St. 

That recommendation will head to the village board for consideration at the Nov. 14 committee of the whole meeting. No vote will be taken at that time, but in light of the negative reaction from the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission and a wall of opposition from neighboring business owners and residents, the business partners seeking to open the daycare will rethink their plans.

“We are going to have to reapproach this for sure and see if there are any other options,” said Pawel Czauderna, a real estate broker and one of the daycare center business partners in a phone interview following the meeting. 

Czauderna said he was caught off guard by the intensity of the opposition from neighboring commercial and residential property owners, as well as from all of the residential tenants who occupy the three second-floor apartments above the commercial space.

A dozen members of the public, including the owners of at least three nearby businesses spoke in opposition to allowing the daycare at the location, saying it was too dangerous, that it’s onsite parking lot was too small and that its presence would cause a parking crisis for other nearby businesses that don’t have onsite parking.

Business owners were particularly concerned that the daycare center would result in them losing access to six angled parking spots immediately north of 31st Street on the east side of Park Avenue.

“The public parking that’s there was created for the businesses that don’t have any parking,” said Paul Jones, owner of Mold-A-Rama, whose office is a few doors west of Park Avenue.

Even with those spaces available, said Jones, people park illegally in order to visit businesses in the area. He and others opposing the daycare also said vehicles speed down side streets while using them as cut-throughs to avoid the traffic light at 31st Street and Maple Avenue.

Those opposed questioned zoning relief Czauderna was requesting to reduce the number of onsite parking space from 20 to 13. The village’s code requires two parking spaces for each residential unit and one per every five children enrolled in the daycare. The proposed daycare’s capacity is 40 children.

Residents of the building said they worried they would no longer be guaranteed spaces to park during the daycare’s 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours of operation, while others worried traffic could back up south on Park to 31st Street during drop-off and pickup times, creating danger at that intersection.

Czauderna said the daycare center was not a school and that children would not be dropped off or picked up all at once. In addition, he said, adults would be parked either in the rear onsite parking lot or in the angled spaces on Park Avenue for just a few minutes.

He argued his business was not a cause of already existing parking and traffic concerns and that his application for a special use permit for the daycare and for the parking relief had nothing to do with the public parking on Park Avenue.

“We cannot be responsible for people parking illegally [near] the ice cream shop or the mechanic’s place,” Czauderna said at the Oct. 27 hearing.

Planning and zoning commissioners didn’t spend much time weighing a recommendation for a special use permit. However, all opposed granting the zoning variance to reduce the number of onsite parking spaces needed, making the special use permit a moot point.

“Being realistic about when drop-off and pickup happen, this parking lot is wholly inadequate for that,” said Commissioner Ryan Evans. 

The village board has the final say on the application and trustees can choose to approve the special use permit and parking variance. However, doing so would take a supermajority of trustees voting in favor to do that.