GOSHEN — A woman who faced opposition from a group of neighbors about opening a day care for kids at her home will not be allowed to operate the business there.
The Elkhart County Board of Zoning Appeals decided Thursday, Dec. 19, against granting a special use permit for the day care to homeowner Cynthia Hawkins, who lives in the Dry Creek Run subdivision south of Goshen. Nineteen of the 28 homeowners in the neighborhood had signed a petition in November opposing the business because their subdivision’s covenants do not allow homes to have workshops, businesses, offices or manufacturing operations.
“The overwhelming dissension in the neighborhood, it bothers me,” BZA member Robert Homan said.
Hawkins had planned to open up her home at 14849 Falcon Lane to as many as 12 kids Monday through Friday. She told BZA members last month there are not enough day care options for families in the southern part of the county.
The board held a public hearing on Hawkins’ request in November but tabled a decision until its next meeting after BZA members questioned whether the subdivision’s covenants were properly recorded with the county. After finding out that the covenants were in order, the board reopened the public hearing Thursday.
Hawkins turned in a petition to the board with signatures of eight supporters, including herself, plus a letter from a neighbor who stated that they had never seen the covenants.
BZA member Doug Miller was the only person on the board to vote against denying Hawkins’ request for a special use permit.
“The issue that I can’t get my head around, and it has nothing to do with anything other than my faith in God and Christianity is I can’t imagine that it has become a bad thing to want to take care of kids in your own neighborhood and that it’s going to affect our property values,” Miller said. “The older I get, the less I understand about people’s emotions. I understand it’s a property issue, but it’s not right.”
BZA member Randy Hesser said the decision was a “close call.”
“I think child care facilities are a fairly low impact thing,” he said. “Having kids around a neighborhood is usually considered a good thing, but I think the neighbors are within their rights of saying they don’t want home workshops.”