Reynoldsburg City Council denied a special exception use permit for a daycare operation on Brice Road Monday, April 7, after the applicant failed to show up for an appeals hearing before the service committee.
Council voted unanimously to deny an application by Latarsha Pritchard to open a daycare facility at 1914 Brice Road.
Pritchard had applied for a special exception use permit to operate the Happy Days Daycare for approximately 120 children in vacant retail space. The building is zoned community commercial (CC) in the overlay district on property originally developed as a strip mall, said Justin Robbins, acting planning administrator for the Reynoldsburg Board of Zoning and Building Appeals (BZBA).
The BZBA denied Pritchard's request March 20.
Robbins submitted the minutes of the March 20 BZBA meeting at the April 7 service committee meeting.
According to those minutes, BZBA members objected to the request because the proposed location for the daycare "was never intended for use as a childcare facility and is not conducive to the health, safety, morals and welfare of the childcare occupants or surrounding properties."
Robbins said the vacant space is about 8,000 square feet in size; it was used by Reynoldsburg Bingo in the past.
He said the proposed play area for the center was deemed not suitable by the BZBA because it was in a former loading zone area at the back of the building and other businesses in the area would have large semitrailers unloading nearby.
Pritchard told BZBA members, according to the minutes, that she currently operates the Kidding Around daycare center in Columbus, which serves a similar number of children in a similar strip mall area.
Rose Oberst, a leasing agent and Realtor for the Brice Road property, also spoke at the BZBA meeting. She said she would take care of the fencing in the play area.
She also said the space was ideal for the daycare center and complained to the BZBA that large spaces in that shopping center have been vacant for the past two years, despite her efforts to lease them, because either the BZBA or Reynoldsburg City Council has objected each time to the leases.
"I've brought several people in and each time, even if they have good credit, it's stretched out to the point many of them have walked," she said, according to the minutes. "We're looking at 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of vacancy. This current landlord pays about $94,000 in taxes. ... It is very hard when you are trying to lease something and you feel your hands are tied."
Councilman Mel Clemens, who chairs the service committee, said council members would not have automatically denied the appeal if Pritchard had showed up at the April 7 meeting.
"We would have heard what she had to say and considered the permit," he said. "I did think the idea was poorly presented to the BZBA. It is also a big building and I would rather have something come in with a little more payroll."