WESTFIELD, NJ – The Westfield Planning Board heard from both neighbors and a homeowner of Coolidge Street during a meeting on Tuesday, where an applicant sought approval to use their single-family residence as limited child care home.
Lindsay Bliss, mother of three who teaches and cares for toddlers, appeared before the board after a zoning official was alerted of activity at her home. According to public witnesses, it was suspected that Bliss had been allowing more than five children in her home at once, violating the town’s conditional use ordinance. Bliss denied it.
Many complaints from neighbors came in response to the increased traffic during pick-up times, along with employee cars being parked on Coolidge Street during the day.
Bliss testified that she would not want to inconvenience any of her neighbors, saying that she has instructed parents to carefully navigate the surrounding neighborhood in a route that would leave cars blocking driveways.
“It’s difficult. All of the neighbors that came up would say it is a quality of life issue. You buy a house, you don’t want a business being run next door to you,” board chair Vince Wilt said.
At the time of the meeting, Bliss testified that there is a demand for her services and she often denies applicants due to the limited space. An approval from the board would grant Bliss to use her home conditionally as a limited child care center in accordance with §18.03.
Due to state legislature, additional licenses would be required if Bliss were to want to expand her business and allow six to eight (plus her own three) children in the home at one time.
With very little evidence to deny the application outright, the board unanimously approved the application.
“I believe if they meet the conditions of our land use ordinance for conditional use and they meet the conditions by the state definition, and if their situation changes and they have to register with the state, so be it,” Robert Newell said.
The board also approved a subdivision of 511 Edgar Road, where an existing dwelling will be removed and two new homes will be constructed.
An application to construct a new, 13,194 square-foot CVS Pharmacy at 1130-36, 1138 and 1144 South Avenue will be carried to the next planning board meeting on March 6.