An application to create a daycare at the former Fabricland location at 15 Manominee Street, which has been sitting empty since the fabric store closed its Huntsville location, was before Huntsville’s Development Services Committee on January 15, 2020.
The applicant, Danielle Dixon, asked the committee to approve a zoning amendment in order to allow a daycare as a permitted use in that location. She was also seeking an exemption for the required number of parking stalls for that side of Brendale Square as six stalls would be used to create a fenced outdoor space for the children on a rotational basis.
“It is a needed service in this town. After doing some research we found that the childcare centres that you already have open have lengthy waiting lists, so we believe that we’d be filling a void,” she said, adding that the childcare centre she’s proposing would be licensed, which means families in need will be able to apply for childcare subsidies.
Dixon also told the committee that the proposed space, which would comprise about half of the former Fabricland location, could accommodate a maximum of 54 children.
Dixon said the daycare would create eight or nine full-time positions and she is in the process of getting her floor plans approved. “I don’t foresee future problems with this location. I think that my program advisor will approve this location,” she told the committee, adding that daycares in plazas are common in other communities.
Cindy Fleury of GP Wealth Management was also in attendance. Her business is also located on Manominee Street in the Brendale Square Plaza. She asked the committee to deny the application citing limited parking, noise levels and the safety of the children in the outdoor play area among her concerns.
“There’s ten businesses in there and we don’t have enough spaces for ourselves,” she said, referring to the businesses who lease in that location. “What it’s going to do is it’s going to push the small businesses that are operating there out of there. The building is not well insulated, my office is right next door to a counselling session for children and I can hear those kids when they’re talking, in my office. Thank God my waiting room is at the beginning so there is some privacy, but you can hear everything. So to run a professional business and be next door to a daycare, it just doesn’t work. It would be like you guys trying to conduct business and … [listening]to kids yelling and screaming right there and trying to do your job,” she told committee.
While all of Brendale Square is within the influence of a former landfill, staff did not seem overly concerned and noted that any environmental issues would form part of the building permit process.
Committee also heard that in terms of additional parking, there would be nothing preventing people from parking on the John Street side of the plaza, if required.
In the end, the committee approved the zoning amendment. Their recommendation will be forwarded to council for ratification.
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