Wingate rejects day care permit application

Permit was approve two years ago, then expired
Jan. 31, 2013 @ 09:49 AM

A proposed day care center in Wingate did not receive its conditional-use permit Tuesday night. 

Wingate residents gathered in the Jesse Helms Center for a quasi-judicial hearing about the proposed center. Only the applicants spoke in favor of it. 

Christopher and Mary Crowder applied for a conditional-use permit to open the Children of Today Day Care Center on 113 Chaney Street in Wingate. While the property is surrounded on three sides by a residential area, it is adjacent to another business, so it was deemed appropriate under the land use plan.

The Crowders had been granted a conditional-use permit for the property two years ago and they began construction. However, construction was delayed and the permit expired. 

Residents voiced concern about the property, with the construction started and unfinished, being an eyesore and potential traffic problems when turning onto Highway 74 from Chaney Street or turning onto Chaney Street from Highway 74.

Resident Teresa Weis noted that there was already more traffic because of a Cash Points that recently opened. 

"I'd like to keep my neighborhood a neighborhood, instead of a thoroughfare," Weis said. 

Sergeant Saverio Montecalvo testified that it was difficult to make a left-hand turn from Chaney Street onto Highway 74. He said there is consistent and continuous traffic throughout the day and that there is an increase in the Cash Points since the local bank closed. 

He testified that another business would add traffic.

The daycare would serve 72 children and employ ten people. It would run from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and would be 3,200 square-feet.

Mary Crowder noted that they did a traffic study two years ago and that traffic is a problem everywhere. 

"We've been through this before," she said. "We've done what you asked us to do."

Resident Boyce Adams said in his comments that they tried to sell their house for over a year and the potential sellers asked about the construction when they looked at the house. 

He presented the commissioners with an e-mail from his realtor stating that his house did not sell three times because of the construction. 

In a quasi-judicial hearing, only expert testimony may be taken into account. 

Other residents discussed the difficulty they have turning onto their street or onto Highway 74. Some noted that businesses should be on the highway, not in a residential neighborhood. 

Christopher Crowder apologized for the delay in construction during the hearing. 

"(We will) try to have a facility finished some time in April or May," he said. 

Mary Crowder explained that the delay three years ago was due to financial issues and issues with the contractor that have all been resolved. She said everything is up-to-date with Union County to move forward. 

"(The daycare) will not only benefit us, (it) helps the community," she said. "We have never had a new facility built from the ground up."

She added that the center is "well-needed" in the community. 

Once the hearing was closed, the board of commissioners had to decide on four questions: if the development will probably not materially endanger public health or safety, if the development probably will not harm property values, if the development probably will be in harmony with the area and if the development will be in agreement with the land use ordinance and the master plan. 

The commissioners voted unanimously that the development would endanger public health and safety, would harm property values, would not be in harmony and would agree with the land use ordinance and master plan. 

After some discussion, they voted unanimously to deny the conditional-use permit. Apart from Commissioner Barry Green, the same board approved the permit a few years ago. 

Mayor Bill Braswell speculated Sgt. Calvo's testimony may have had an impact on the decision. The mayor only votes in case of a tie. 

The Crowders were not happy with the decision. 

"We're going to appeal," Mary Crowder said. "I don't think this is fair."

She was surprised by the decision. 

Christopher Crowder noted that the proposal is no different from the proposal from a few years ago, except that now they have done more than $100,000 of work on the property.

Town Manager Patrick Niland said they can reapply if the application changes.