Proposed childcare center seeks waiver in residential district -- Gazette.Net


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A proposal to convert a one-story house into a childcare center in Clarksburg has immediate neighbors off Frederick Road concerned about potential parking and traffic problems.

“The neighbors have been very vocal, because it directly affects their ability to get to their homes,” said Lynn Fantle, who chairs the Clarksburg Civic Association’s planning committee.

Business owners Shirley and Michael Vesper, who opened the Creating Memories Children’s Learning Center in Adamstown in Frederick County in 2008, are asking for a special exception to open a center that would serve up to 52 children in Clarksburg.

A hearing examiner with the county’s Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings will consider the request Friday in Rockville and issue a written report and recommendation within 30 days for final action by the county’s Board of Appeals.

Shirley Vesper declined to comment Tuesday about the project until after the county makes a decision about the request.

The Vespers are planning to build a 1,150-foot addition to the house and also a fenced outdoor playground, according to a Nov. 29 Planning Department staff report.

The facility at 22929 Frederick Road would serve up to 52 infants through pre-school children (ages 4 or 5), as well as older children for after-school care, according to the report.

The Montgomery County Planning Board recommended approval of the request, with limits on the number of children and hours of operation along with landscaping requirements, after a hearing on Nov. 29.

One of the proposed conditions is that all drop-offs and pick-ups take place on site, prohibiting parents to park on neighboring streets.

To make their proposed parking area of 15 spaces large enough, the Vespers are asking for a waiver from the required 24-foot sideyard setback from the neighbors’ common driveway just to the north of the site.

The county planning staff supports the request, recommending a waiver of six feet, according to the report.

But the five neighbors living adjacent to the driveway worry that the center’s lot will not be big enough and that parents will park on their driveway.

Fantle also said that one of the immediate neighbors, who works at night, is worried about noise from the new playground.

“[The neighbor] is very concerned about trying to sleep,” she said.

Planners are recommending that the number of children playing outside at any one time not exceed 25, according to the staff report.

Another condition would limit operations to 12 hours between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The civic association, which represents residents in the Clarksburg Master Plan area, is concerned about the granting of special exceptions for businesses in that stretch of Frederick Road, which is zoned residential, Fantle said.

There is a new Goddard School now under construction to the south between the Clarksburg High School and the Greenridge Baptist Church that also runs a childcare operation.

“We’re very concerned that whole strip is turning into schools and day cares,” Fantle said.

“I generally think it’s poor planning to put all the school and the day cares in the same sections,” she said.

In addition, Frederick Road is one of the relatively few through roads that take people in and out of the area, and it cannot afford to back up with cars during morning and evening rush hours, she said.

“The place is growing — there’s explosive growth,” said Fantle about Clarksburg.

vterhune@gazette.net