China planners approve revised permit for daycare

by Mary Grow

At their June 23 meeting, China Planning Board members unanimously approved a revision to Amanda Gower’s permit for her daycare business at 166 Tyler Road that lets her increase capacity to a maximum of 75 children and staff at one time.

When the daycare was permitted in 2009, Gower said, she used only part of the house, and applied for a maximum occupancy of 49. She now uses the entire building, has state approval for 75 people and needed town approval to match the state’s.

Planners attached one condition to the permit. Codes Officer Bill Butler said Gower’s septic system as a whole is adequate for the business, but she needs a larger septic tank. Board members directed her to get a new one installed within six months; Gower said she is already talking with installers, who are busy enough so they’re booking well ahead.

Gower said when she enlarged the daycare area she expanded the sprinkler system, as directed by the state fire marshal. The system has an outside connection for firefighters, she said, and members of the Weeks Mills and South China departments have checked it.

The building is in the middle of a four-and-a-half-acre lot, partly wooded, with a wide driveway and adequate parking, Butler and Gower said. There have been no complaints about the business to the town or to Gower in the 11 years it’s been operating.

Gower said 47 children are currently enrolled, but not all come every day. In the current Covid-19 situation, she does not expect to reach capacity for months.

Board members found Gower’s application was complete, no public hearing was needed for a non-controversial expansion of an existing business and the plan met all local ordinance criteria. They then approved the application.

In other business June 23, Butler said he had received questions about the comprehensive plan and about Grace Academy’s change to a pre-school from Clifford Glinko, who wondered whether either the proposed updated plan or the school change would let him expand his marijuana-growing business in South China. Board members lacked information for definitive answers; they agreed a change in the business would require their review.

Butler and Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo shared warnings about this year’s major infestation of browntail moth caterpillars, which Butler said are causing significant tree defoliation in Weeks Mills, around Webber Pond and elsewhere in the area.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Miragliuolo said.

The moth hairs cause skin irritation and respiratory problems. Miragliuolo said a neighbor had been hospitalized after inhaling them.

The next regular board meeting would have fallen on primary election day, July 14, so board members rescheduled it to Tuesday evening, July 28. They postponed deciding whether it will be a virtual meeting, as the June 23 one was.


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