Daycares Granted Expansions
Prince Frederick, MD - 5/5/2012
By Marty Madden
“We must have had a baby boom,” Calvert County Board of Appeals Chair Susie Hance Wells declared as the panel prepared to hear its third request for a capacity increase from a local daycare center.
The appeals board approved all three “special exception” requests from the daycare providers, in effect allowing 117 additional children to enroll in the much clamored-for programs.
“We have a community need to expand,” said Roberta Rambo, whose daycare, “Stepping Stones,” is located in the Sunderland Commercial Center. The facility off Dalrymple Road will be able to accommodate 36 additional children. Rambo told the board she will now be able to separate the pre-school children and provide the school-age children with their own space.
In making her case to be allowed to expand Kids Campus Early Learning Center in Dunkirk, applicant Tracy Jost pointed out that her facility is licensed and accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education. Additionally, the daycare is participating in a pilot program under the auspices of Johns Hopkins University. “We have the children’s best interest at heart,” said Jost, who noted several past employees have gone on to careers in education. “It has proven to be a training ground for future teachers,” she stated.
Kids Campus Early Learning Center, which is located on Ward Road across from the Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department in a building owned by Calvert Investment Properties, will be allowed to increase its capacity by nearly 60 children.
Board member D.O. Baker noted this was the third such expansion at the daycare and all of the special exception requests were presented in a “businesslike” manner.
While the daycare expansion requests from Rambo and Jost drew no protests, the third request presented to the board did have to withstand a challenge since the facility is located in a residential area.
Ms. Bev’s Place is located on Cedarwood Lane in Dunkirk and the parcel is zoned Rural Community District (RCD). Under the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance, daycare centers are allowed in the RCD but are limited to 120 children. The zoning ordinance defines RCD as a residential and agricultural area and mandates the avoidance of “traffic onto rural roads by prohibiting commercial uses.”
“Commercial activities do not have a place in a residential area,” said Anita Jazwinski, who told the board the daycare center has created traffic problems within the subdivision.
“The entrance and exit [to the daycare center] has been problematic,” stated another resident, Charles Ryon, who added he he also had concerns about the impact the proposed expansion from 86 to 110 children would have on a well the community shares and on the septic system servicing the center. Ryon stated the expansion would mean “more water usage” and “well and septic problems.”
The applicant, Beverly Whittington, disputed claims that her daycare center had created a traffic hazard and added “our water usage is very, very low.” Whittington testified she has received only one complaint about a client posing a traffic issue and took immediate steps to mitigate the problem. She also defended the fact that the facility is located in a residential area.
“It’s so important for children to be in a home environment,” said Whittington, who indicated the daycare center has assimilated itself into the neighborhood with events like a Halloween parade and a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Hospital.
The board of appeal’s approval for expansion came with Whittington’s promise to further mitigate the potential traffic hazard posed by parents dropping off and picking up children. Whittington indicated she would look into installation of a speed bump on her driveway.
Rambo said later the expansion of daycare centers in Calvert is being driven, “by a combination of things,” such as the sour economy in which “mothers are being forced” into the workplace, the proliferation of “single-parent families” and “the growth of the county.” She added that “even stay-at-home mothers” are opting for daycare for their children because of the “educational, social and emotional development” the professionals provide.
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com