A man twice rebuffed by the village of Brookfield in his attempt to open a daycare center in a vacant 31st Street commercial storefront won’t try again, saying he’s through “fighting nonsense.”
On March 27, Brookfield trustees voted 4-1 to deny two special use permits and a zoning variation to Pawel Czauderna, who since late 2022 has been trying to accommodate residents and neighboring business owners who expressed concerns that the proposed daycare would worsen traffic and impact parking.
Daycare centers are allowed as special uses in the C-4 Local Retail District where the property at 9046 31st St. is located. However, the property that would have housed the daycare also includes three second-floor residential units, and the village code would have required 19 onsite parking spaces.
Initially, Czauderna sought village approval to reduce the number of required onsite parking spaces to 13, using public parking spaces nearby to make up for the lack of onsite spaces.
Last October, when the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously against recommending Czauderna’s application for zoning relief, neighboring business owners complained that the daycare would limit their customers access to public parking spaces on the east side of Park Avenue.
Meanwhile, residential tenants complained that parking required by village code for their use would be jeopardized. During a discussion of the proposal at a village board meeting in early March, tenants also said the landlord, who is not Czauderna, reduced the number of parking spaces allotted to each unit from two to one, contrary to village code.
After the Planning and Zoning Commission gave a thumbs down last October, Czauderna withdrew his application and revised it.
His revised plan, which the Planning and Zoning Commission also unanimously rejected in February, sought approval for a second special use permit to allow the daycare center to rent eight parking spaces at the Brookfield Elks property at 9022 31st St. to get closer to the required minimum 19 spaces.
By renting parking spots a couple of doors east and reworking the rear parking lot behind the building at 9046 31st St. to create an onsite drop-off/pickup area, Czauderna believed he had addressed concerns over traffic and parking.
“I can’t keep investing money and fighting nonsense,” Czauderna told the Landmark in a phone interview last week. “I’m not going to keep fighting over parking that was not even on our radar.”
Opponents pointed to signs in the alley behind the 9000 block of 31st St., indicating traffic was one way going east, contrary to the daycare’s traffic circulation plan, which would have had cars turning west to exit onto Park Avenue, just a few feet away.
Village officials said they didn’t know when the signs were placed there, by whom or for what reason, but that there was no village ordinance mandating one-way traffic through the alley.
Signs, which have been there for years, regulating the public parking spaces on Park Avenue just north of 31st Street also appear to be of uncertain origin. Officials said the village didn’t place the signs there.
Czauderna pointed to other daycare centers on busy streets in Brookfield that lacked onsite parking and dedicated pickup/drop-off areas. The village has allowed such daycare centers on Broadway Avenue and Grand Boulevard.
He also said the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which regulates daycares in the state, had visited the 31st Street property twice and approved it for use as a daycare.
“I keep coming up with solutions to everything and they keep saying no,” Czauderna said.
Prior to the village board voting on March 27 to deny the zoning relief Czauderna sought, Trustee Katie Kaluzny, who cast the only vote in favor, said a daycare center was needed on the north end of Brookfield and that Czauderna’s attempts to address parking and traffic issues were “a unique solution to the problem.”
But Trustee Edward Cote, who voted with the majority, said he had a problem with the parking solution, saying the daycare could lose those spaces if the Elks lodge property ever changed hands.
“While I’m not against a daycare per se, I just don’t see that this can meet the requirement for parking needed to become a daycare,” Cote said.
With last week’s vote, Czauderna said he’s washing his hands of Brookfield.
“They can have it and their lack of business in a ghost town,” he said.