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LAGUNA NIGUEL : Planners Consider Preschool for Mall

October 03, 1994|LYNN FRANEY

After searching South County for a suitable site, a national preschool chain has settled on the Laguna Heights Marketplace shopping center for a potential child day-care center.

The idea has already run into some opposition, though, as a handful of nearby residents have complained to the city's Planning Commission about possible increases in noise and traffic.

The site is a narrow lot behind the PayLess drugstore on Sweet Meadows Drive, just off Street of the Golden Lantern.

"The availability of sites in Orange County is limited because most (potential sites) are in planned communities where they often don't leave enough room for playground areas," said George Rendon, who handles Southern California franchising for Florida-based Tutor Time preschools.

The only other Tutor Time preschool in Orange County is in Newport Beach.

A preschool in the southeastern part of the city is badly needed, Rendon said in citing a study that showed there were several thousand children under the age of 5 within three miles of the proposed Laguna Niguel site.

Tutor Time hopes to build a 7,881-square-foot day-care center with two outdoor playgrounds that could serve 150 children.

At an earlier hearing, planning commissioners said the safety of the children as they are being dropped off and picked up is a primary concern.

Preschool traffic would use the same driveways used by large trucks making deliveries to the PayLess and Lucky stores.

But Rendon said he does not expect safety problems.

"Trucks that size are no different from the yellow buses that deliver children to schools, so we don't see them as any greater danger," he said.

The commission will discuss the proposal again at its Oct. 11 meeting.

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