Mount Kisco's Planning Board approved the proposed Little Garden Childcare Center at its Tuesday night meeting, handing a major victory to owners Mark and Beatrice Santora.
The board voted 5-0 - members Ralph Vigliotti, Doug Hertz and Sol Gibbons were absent - to approve a special permit and site plan required.
“We’re extremely pleased with the outcome," Mark Santora said.
The approval comes with nearly two dozen conditions, however. Notable among them is the need for the village's Zoning Board of Appeals to approve an area variance, which it may do at its September meeting. Village Attorney Whitney Singleton stated that the board has indicated their “unofficial, tacit approval” for the variance.
The ZBA first reviewed the application last month but declined to make a decision until an update came from the Planning Board regarding the environmental review of the project.
The daycare center will be a tenant at 27 Radio Circle, and can house up to 146 enrolled at once. That comes down to limits of 112 for an infant-to-5-year-old program, and 34 for a before-school/after-school program for kids ages 5-12. It will also include the addition of a playground in the front of the property.
“It’s been a long haul…” board Chairman Joseph Cosentino said after the approval, adding he thinks they'll do a good job.
The backing for Little Garden came after months of debate over the proposal, which was marked with tension, specifically a disagreement between the Santoras and some Planning Board members over where to locate a 3,200-square-foot playground.
At a June meeting, a few board members wanted them to consider the rear of the property as an alternative spot, with safety cited as a reason. The Santoras argued it would pose a safety and logistical problem in looking after the children. They also at doing a rear study, arguing that they should not spend money for explore a scenario that they're against. They relented however, and at the , used their research as a chance to make their case again in opposition to the alternative. After that,
The Santoras encountered another hurdle in early July, however, when they learned that an area variance would be needed because their plan's development coverage went over the zoning limit. However, the relevation was just a minor setback.
Vice Chairman Anthony Sturniolo expressed reluctance in voting aye, stating that he felt a rear alternative would have been better for the playground in the plan. Hertz and Vigliotti, both absent, were notably critical of the front.
The goal now is to open by early January, Mark Santora said, shortly after New Year's Day. The Santoras initially had a fall opening goal, which would coincide with the new school year. Asked about the later opening goal, given the initial preference for the fall, Santora felt that a January opening is about as good as starting in September, in terms of benefit to the center.
Before the board took a vote, Village Attorney Whitney Singleton proofread a draft version of the approval resolution. His changes were largely technical in nature. Conditions in it include stating the approved site plan is not transferable to a future tenant - it must get board approval again - and that every demand outlined in the approval be done within a year after construction starts.