City staff urges grant of day care special use at 2812-2814 Central Street

            Two months after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) unanimously recommended that Little Green Tree House be denied a special use permit to operate a day care center at 2812-2814 Central St.—former location of the Great Frame-Up—Evanston city staff is recommending that the full City Council reverse that and grant the special use permit.

            The proposal will appear on the August 17 agenda for the Planning & Development Committee at its 7:15 p.m. meeting in Council chambers at the Morton Civic Center.  If approved by the P&D Committee, it will be introduced for its first reading at the meeting of the full Council later that evening

            When the ZBA recommended denial of the permit, members cited both the lack of adequate on-site parking and concern for traffic congestion in that block of Central St., with the number of children expected to be dropped off and picked up daily and the location of Fire Station No. 5 two doors west of the proposed center.  The city staff memorandum recommending approval of the special use permit states that the day care center is “negotiating” to lease additional parking spaces from a nearby property.  It states nothing about the ZBA’s expressed concern over traffic congestion and the proximity of the fire station.

            Approximately 130 children between ages 6 months and 5 years are expected to be dropped off at the center every weekday between the hours of 7-9am, and picked up between 4-6pm.  City staff’s recommendation calls for five parallel parking spaces on Central Street in front of the building to be designated as a 15-minute “Loading Zone” for that purpose, plus the delivery of daily meals for all the children and diaper service for those in need of it. Neighbors who testified at the ZBA hearing on June 16 suggested that the small number of parking spaces on Central Street would not be adequate for that purpose, without having other vehicles double-parking in front for drop-off or pick-up and creating traffic congestion for other vehicles on Central St. during those hours.

            Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) and neighbors told the ZBA that employees of other businesses already are parking during the day on residential streets adjoining Central St. The day care center expects to employ 28-30 full-time employees and 24 part-time employees, with 20-22 employees per shift.  Although day care center owners told the ZBA they expected “up to 90%” of the employees to commute to work by using public transportation, they disclosed that none of the employees had been hired yet.