Day care trying to relocate in Wilton must answer 'a whole bunch of things' before P&Z considers OK

WILTON — The Planning & Zoning Commission has asked for more information before it decides whether to grant permission to a day-care center that is hoping to relocate within the town.

A Kids Place 2 has applied to move its operations to a larger facility at 436 Danbury Road.

"My current space on 111 Ridgefield Road is only 490 square feet," owner Karen Cook said in her special permit application.

When there's bad weather, her current landlord allows her to have access to an additional room, as needed, Cook said.

"The carriage house on 436 Danbury Road, (with) 2,028 square feet, allows me the additional space required when there is inclement weather and the children cannot go outdoors," she said. 

Several businesses are located at the Danbury Road property, which includes the historic Cannon House building.

Kevin O'Brien, a real estate broker who is representing Cook, told the P&Z at the meeting on Feb. 27 that as a day-care facility, A Kids Place 2 is required to get a special permit from the commission. For any other kind of business, the Zoning Department would be able to simply sign off on the move to the carriage house, which is located at the back of this property.

"It's vacant right now," O'Brien said. The space formerly served as a doctor's office, and before that as a beauty salon, he said.

No exterior work would be needed, he said, except for adding a fence around a new play area, and taking out one window and replacing it with a door at the front of the building.

"We are not adding additional parking," O'Brien said, noting there are more than 30 spaces available already at the site.

The application, however, was missing details, according to commissioners, who tabled the discussion until the next P&Z meeting on March 13.

"We need to see a bit more information on the site plan," said Chair Richard Tomasetti, listing a range of questions, including issues of lighting, the specific plans of pickup and drop-off procedures for the children, and details on the location of the proposed play area.

"There's a whole bunch of things you need to add to this application," he said.

Other commissioners concurred, including Vice Chair Melissa-Jean Rotini, who said a written background on the property's history was also needed.

"That is part of the regulation and is a requirement, so I don't know why it's not there," she said. She also cited the need for documentation relating to traffic patterns, communication with the police department and fire department, an environmental impact study, and clarification that the day-care license is transferable to a new property.

"I'd like to see a sample of the fence," Commissioner Christopher Pagliaro added.

Tomasetti suggested that the Architectural Review Board take a look at the application and send along any information before the P&Z reconvenes.

Members of the ARB, however, were not provided with any of the paperwork in their online packets, except for three photographs of a playground with no supporting details.

A note on one of the three photos from O'Brien to Daphne White, assistant town planner, said the applicant would be using the backdoor of the carriage house, so no new door would be needed in the front of the building.

"With that said, we will not be changing the parking lot or anything on the outside of the carriage house," he wrote, noting that the picture contained the kinds of fencing that would be used for the new play area.

But as a consequence of limited information, the ARB also tabled the item at its March 2 meeting until more could be provided.

"The materials that were on the town's Planning and Zoning website, if I'm not mistaken, were just pictures of a playground and there's no context," ARB member Sam Gardener said. "I didn't even understand what the application was for."

ARB Chair Rob Sanders, who recused himself from the discussion because his architect's office is at the same address, confirmed that no materials were made available to the ARB. 

"I suspect that there may be a number of changes and details in the application than were presented" to the P&Z, he said, indicating they would probably be forthcoming.

Tomasetti noted that he thought the use for the property was sound, but he had questions about the site.

"I think the use itself makes perfect sense," he said. "I don't have an issue with the use. My issue is with the site."

"I think you should go back, talk to the town planner, and get some of these things wrapped up," he told O'Brien.

O'Brien said that much of the requested information was already in hand and would be provided before the P&Z's next meeting.

"Just for the record ... we're trying to get consistent information from everybody," Rotini said.