Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:00
Learn and Play Day Care on Herricks Road will not be granted a permit to expand from its current location, according to Supreme Court proceedings obtained by the Mineola American. Owner Arthur Smyles filed suit against the Village of Mineola after the board of trustees opposed the day care center’s application in June 2012, noting safety and parking concerns.
Smyles originally wanted to add space from the neighboring 99 cents store, which he also owns but is now vacant. Board members hammered Smyles with questions at a public hearing in 2011.
The board had cited a single entrance/exit onto Herricks Road as a prime issue. The board also felt that emergency vehicles would have difficulty accessing the location and that there was an inadequate amount of parking for both employees and customers.
Day care attorneys from Farrell Fritz argued that Mineola’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” However, the court agreed that Mineola made its decision on “common-sense judgment and personal familiarity with the area” and “reasonably analyzed and reviewed” the issues of the property.
Smyles revealed in a phone interview that he plans to appeal the court’s decision. The Dix Hills resident kept the dollar store empty, hoping for a favorable court ruling.
“We’re going further on it,” Smyles said. “There’s never been an accident there. It’s no different than the property next door or in that area. We think that has no validity other than just a personal opinion, not based in fact. That’s why we’re appealing it.”
Main sticking points in Mineola’s denial were parking and drop off/pick up procedures for daycare attendees. According to the court documents, 39 onsite parking spots are on the current property. Eighty-six would be needed for the proposed expansion.
“The Mineola Village Board carefully considered all aspects of this application and found it would not be in the best interests of our residents, the children being served at the facility, passing motorists, or our first responders,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said. “I am very pleased that the New York State Supreme Court has upheld the Village of Mineola’s decision in this matter, and our authority to make these zoning use determinations.”
According to architect Anthony Dei Properizo, the two buildings combined represents 21,084 sq. ft. of floor space with 14,236 sq. ft. for the day care and 6,848 sq. ft. for the dollar store.
The facility is open to infants as young as six weeks, and toddlers from 2 1/2 up to 4 1/2 years of age. The building is currently set up to house approximately 207 children with 180 children currently in attendance, some of whom only attend part-time.
Traffic experts reported the expansion would generate a 69 percent increase in traffic and parking needed for a second building. Smyles’ reps found that during peak traffic hours, most northbound cars obeyed a “no-left turn” sign near the day care center.
The document read that about one-third of all exiting drivers turned left as they exited the day care site. Drivers exiting the dollar store property “were less likely to obey the no left turn prohibition.”
Board members felt, according to the document, that the number of children and teachers “would exacerbate a dangerous traffic condition.” Village officials said that parking in and around the center is “extremely limited with no long-term parking in the vicinity of the property…the board reasoned that lack of adequate parking along with the concern for lack of interior circulation created a potentially hazardous situation.”