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LAGUNA NIGUEL : Day-Care Center Is Approved

October 13, 1994|LYNN FRANEY

The Planning Commission narrowly approved a 150-child day-care center for the Laguna Heights Marketplace shopping center after the developer allayed several commissioners' concerns about child safety around nearby loading docks.

The commission voted 3 to 2 to allow the Florida-based preschool chain Tutor Time to build a 7,881-square-foot day-care center behind the PayLess drugstore in the Marketplace's southwest corner.

"I think there's a demand in the community," said Commissioner Linda Lindholm, who supported the project along with Commissioners Robert Healey and Mark Winer. "It's a public benefit."

Winer said he believes that the separate drop-off and pickup loop, which will also contain parking spaces, will keep children out of the way of delivery trucks from PayLess and the Lucky supermarket.

Commissioners Eli Naffah and Connie Axen voted against the project, saying that while they see the need for a preschool, they prefer that it be only 6,400 square feet, which would accommodate about 100 students. Fewer students, Axen said, would keep traffic from backing up onto Sweet Meadow during drop-off and pickup times and would decrease the chances of a child being hurt.

Similar traffic and safety concerns had emerged when the developer of the Beacon Hill Commercial Center at Niguel Road and Ridgeway Avenue proposed a Montessori preschool there.

Healey said it is unfortunate that busy shopping centers are the only sites left in Laguna Niguel where private day-care centers can be built.

"I have no idea where we're going to put a private school where there's not traffic," he said.

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