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Chesterfield Planning Commission denies special permit for in-home daycare

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – The Chesterfield Planning Commission voted 3-2 to deny a request from Joni Roberts for a special permit to operate her in-home daycare.

Roberts has operated her state-licensed daycare inside her home for 18 years.  A change in state law required her to get a special use permit to stay in business.

The Brandermill Community Association said her business violates a 40-year-old neighborhood covenant designed to limit in-home businesses with the potential to create traffic problems.

Planning Commissioner, Russell Gulley said it will now go to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Gulley said if denied by the board, Roberts will have to move her business elsewhere.

However, despite Thursday night’s vote, she said she is still staying positive.

“I’m still feeling optimistic. I really am. I mean how could you not feel that way when you sit there and you hear so many compliments,” said Roberts.

Roberts said the B.C.A. has positioned against her efforts to get the special use permit.

“We’ve done nothing but give advantageous opportunities for families here,” Roberts said. “To take the freedom and liberty away from residents here is not correct.”

From January 28 to February 14, Brandermill surveyed residents about in-home businesses in the community.

The survey found the majority of respondents support in-home businesses if traffic considerations are established, but also found 59 percent would not support an in-home daycare where up to 12 children are present at any one time.

The BCA said they will meet with the board of directors on March 3 to discuss the survey’s findings.

“That’s a question you would see on a petition, yea or nea,” said Roberts about the five question survey. Roberts said she is skeptical about how the survey was conducted and feels questions were targeted against her business.

“I can’t begin to formulate an answer to the question without knowing the specific reasons why Mrs. Robert’s makes that claim,” Brandermill Community Association Community Manager John Bailey said via email when asked to respond. “The survey was sent to every owner of Brandermill property. The return number of 1,254 surveys (a 32 percent return rate) provides a 99 percent confidence level in the results being within a 3 percent margin.”

Bailey was at Thursday night’s vote but declined to speak on camera. He said the BCA will be meeting March 3 to discuss the survey results as well as what to do with in-home businesses in general in the Brandermill neighborhood.

The main case worker for the Chesterfield Planning Commission handling Robert’s case is expected to recommend approval of the special use permit, according to a case document given to Roberts.

Still, Roberts said she is not holding out hope because of the influence homeowner’s associations can have at the local level.

“There are some good people out there who really believe in what we do,” Roberts said.

The Chesterfield Planning Commission will take up Robert’s special use permit at a meeting Thursday.