The new site of the JCC Early Education Program, with condos to the west/south and businesses to the east:
Mequon - The Jewish Community Center's Gan Ami Preschool, Kindergarten and Early Education program is gearing up to move, but not out of Mequon.
A conditional-use grant and site plan to repurpose a currently vacant office building at 1415 W. Donges Bay Road were approved - with changes - by the Planning Commission on Monday.
The JCC has been forced to move its program since learning the building it rents near Mequon and Range Line roads is being sold, Director of Early Childhood Rachel Greenspan said. Yet, the JCC wants to stay in Mequon, in part to maintain its partnership with the Mequon-Thiensville School District. The proposed day care center would accommodate 14 staff members and up to 75 children, with regular operating hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Project plans also call for a playground on the west side of the property.
"I feel the program has brought value to the city of Mequon," Greenspan said, "and the city of Mequon has brought value to the program."
However, neighbors of the proposed day care facility warned the commission of traffic, noise and safety concerns, while at the same time expressing concerns for their own property values.
"I don't know how (the area) could accommodate all of that (traffic)," said Sharon Stillman, who lives just west of the site. "The nature of this location is anything but desirable."
"I don't know if it's suitable for a day care center," neighbor John Myers said.
City Assistant Community Development Director Jac Zader said day cares are permitted given the lot's current office zoning, noting that the day care traffic "is compatible."
Several commissioners, as well as Zader, pointed out that bus drivers would have a hard time getting in and out of the parking lot on the south side of the property.
Paul Greenspan, JCC Business and Facilities Director, said children would need to get off the bus on Donges Bay Road and walk up to the facility. He added that the JCC wouldn't mind sacrificing its before and after school programs if the property isn't bus-friendly.
"If we can't get a bus through there, we can't get a bus through there," Greenspan said. "The heartbeat of our program is early education, not before- and after-school education."
Though commissioners suggested adding a circular drive on the north side of the property to help with busing, and moving the playground to the south side, Greenspan said it would be cost-prohibitive to reconstruct the parking lot entirely.
In the end, the Planning Commission approved the site plan, adding requirements of landscaping and a six-foot stockade fence along the west side of the property.
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