Former China Dine-ah to become daycare

China Dine-ah on Lakeview Drive in China.

by Mary Grow

The former China Dine-ah, on Lakeview Drive (Route 202), which was closed by the pandemic in the spring of 2020, is moving toward becoming a daycare called Grace’s Busy Bees, directed by Grace McIntyre.

McIntyre, building owner Norman Elvin and architect David Landmann described plans to the China Planning Board at its June 25 meeting and received prompt and unanimous approval.

Board members considered the minimal external changes, the lack of impacts on neighbors and the local publicity the change has received and decided no public hearing was needed. They found the plan meets all ordinance requirements.

Board chairman Toni Wall issued the usual reminder that the decision is subject to appeal within 30 days.

The daycare will add a playground behind the building, away from Route 202. Elvin intends to build a six-foot cedar fence between the playground and the neighboring house.

Another change he plans is clearing brush along the road to improve visibility from the driveway.

Landmann said the fire alarm system has been upgraded and additional exits provided. He pointed out that state requirements the building met for a restaurant – like the septic system, which Elvin said had been thoroughly checked recently – were even more strict than requirements for a daycare.

The commercial kitchen in the building will be removed as part of a comprehensive interior renovation. Elvin said before the China Dine-ah opened, the building had been gutted, removing anything that might contain asbestos or lead.

The business needs approval from the state Department of Human Services and the state Fire Marshal. Landmann said both applications are pending.

McIntyre hopes to open Grace’s Busy Bees when school starts in the fall. She has applied for a maximum of 65 children to start, tentatively planning for up to 100 children in the future. Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The June 25 planning board agenda included review of two existing ordinances and proposals for three new ones. Board members postponed continued discussion of China’s Land Use Ordinance and an update of the town’s marijuana ordinance.

Also scheduled for future discussion, as Wall and others collect more information and samples from other Maine towns, are:

A Condemning Places ordinance that would allow town officials to determine a building unfit for human habitation;
A Mass Gathering ordinance to define and regulate temporary events that draw large crowds; and
On town attorney Amanda Meader’s recommendation, a Site Plan Review ordinance.

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 9.


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