Milford city council narrowly approves daycare next to liquor store

On Monday night, Milford’s city council narrowly approved plans for a daycare on the Milford-Harrington Highway next to Mike’s Liquor Mart in a five-to-three vote.

The addition had been recommended by the city’s planning commission the week before with only one dissenting vote, but several council members said they had been in touch with constituents who expressed their distaste for a childcare center being located so close to a store selling alcoholic beverages.

“I did have two phone calls opposing this and their sole reasons were because of the close proximity to the liquor store,” said Councilwoman Katrina Wilson.

Mayor Archie Campbell said he had received three phone calls opposing the daycare’s location. Councilman Mike Boyle said he had received a letter in a similar vein and asked to read it aloud into the record.

Ultimately, Assistant Solicitor Jamie Sharp – who was filling in for Solicitor David Rutt – said those opinions needed to be discounted.

“We need to make sure that any decisions made are based on the record,” he said. “If those people are here tonight to speak, they certainly have the right to do so, but I don’t think you can base it on comments that aren’t on the record.”

No one commented when Mayor Archie Campbell opened the discussion to the public.

Phillip McGinnis, who was representing Cosmo Properties, which owns the space, pointed out that the daycare’s drop-off location is planned for the rear of the building, on the opposite side of the liquor store’s entrance. He also noted that the children at the daycare would be too young to be interested in drinking and would be under constant supervision.

Ultimately, Councilmembers Daniel Marabello, Andrew Fulton and Brian Baer all voted against the plan. Three of those who voted in favor of the plan, Councilmembers Boyle, Wilson and Jason James qualified their “yes” votes as “reluctant” given the daycare’s proximity to a liquor store.

“If we want another empty building in Milford let’s just make this complicated, but I think there’s another an opportunity for a business to go here,” said Councilman Todd Culotta, a strong voice in favor of the new daycare.

“Even though it is beside a liquor store, affordable daycare is definitely needed in the city of Milford,” said Councilman Doug Morrow, who also voted yes.

The council also spent a considerable amount of time amending conditions levied by the planning commission on a two-story mixed-use building slated for N Washington Street off NE Second Street which were initially adopted from the developer’s own plan.

Ultimately, it was decided that regulations limiting the building’s potential hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the number of possible employees in the commercial space to 5 should be amended.

“I think the building will self-impose restrictions on any potential renter,” said Mr. Boyle. “I don’t see the need for restricting the number of employees or even the hours.”

He said the regulations, which were initially self-imposed by the developer and adopted by the planning commission, were “thrown in there without much thought” and that they would “handicap” the developer’s ability to lease the space and any business that might end up moving in there.

The council unanimously voted to extend permitted business hours in the structure from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. out to 9 p.m. to be in line with the goal of having businesses downtown stay open later and decided that the number of occupants allowed in the building should be regulated by the existing fire code.

As the very last order of business, the council unanimously approved raises for two city employees based on recent performance evaluations. Milford’s Chief of Police Kenny Brown was awarded a 4.5% raise and City Clerk Terri Hudson received a 5% raise.

“I thank the mayor and council,” Ms. Hudson said. “It’s a pleasure to work with all of you, and I look forward to some Monday nights.”