GOSHEN — An Elkhart County woman’s request to open a day care at her home south of Goshen has been tabled until December because county staff needs to investigate whether her subdivision will allow a business to operate there.
Homeowner Cynthia Hawkins and her husband have applied for a special use permit to operate a licensed day care at their home at 14849 Falcon Lane in the Dry Run Creek subdivision south of Goshen. The neighborhood, Hawkins said, is “the perfect place for childcare to happen.” But neighbors argue that the subdivision’s covenants prohibit homes from being used as workshops, businesses, offices or manufacturing operations. Nearly 20 neighbors submitted a petition to the county opposing the day care.
The problem with that, however, is the Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals does not know whether the covenants were properly recorded with the county. After a hearing Thursday, Nov. 21, the board voted to delay a decision on Hawkins’ application until its next meeting on Dec. 19 to give staff time to research the covenants.
“If these are in place, I think the neighbors are within their rights and expectations to have those enforced,” board chairman Randy Hesser said.
Hawkins told the board that there are not enough day care options for families in the area where she lives. Her day care would be large enough for up to 12 children, according to her permit application.
“The need for local childcare is great in our area, particularly for those seeking licensed homes rather than unlicensed or large centers,” she said. “My location is central between the cities of Goshen, Syracuse, New Paris and Millersburg.”
Neighbors in the subdivision worry that their properties would lose value if the day care opens. Martin McCrindle spoke on behalf of his son and daughter-in-law who live next door to Hawkins.
“He’s not interested in taking a hit on his property value, obviously,” McCrindle said about his son. “None of us are.”
Hawkins’ son, Joel Hawkins, said misinformation has spread among homeowners in the subdivision about property values. He said he contacted realtors and appraisers who do not believe the values would decline. He plans to share the findings with neighbors.