Village of Deerfield Plan Commission met June 14.
Here is the minutes provided by the Commission:
The Plan Commission of the Village of Deerfield called to order a Workshop Meeting at 7:30 p.m. on June 14, 2018 at the Village Hall, 850 Waukegan Road, Deerfield, Illinois.
Present were: Larry Berg, Chairman
Absent were: Sean Forrest
Also present: Jeff Ryckaert, Principal Planner
Daniel Nakahara, Planner
Chairman Berg swore in all who plan to testify before the Commission.
Public Comment on a Non-Agenda Item:
There were no comments from the public on a non-agenda item.
(1) Prefiling Conference on the Request for a Special Use to Permit the Establishment of a Goddard School and an Amendment to the Deerfield Park Plaza Shopping Center Planned Unit Development at 475 Lake Cook Road (Goddard System Inc. and Deerfield Park Plaza)
The petitioners present introduced themselves to the Commission. Jenna Kovelman of Northbrook stated that she is the Goddard School franchisee for the proposed Deerfield location. Boris Kholyavsky of Highland Park stated that he and his wife are also franchisees for the proposed Deerfield location. Erin Witt stated that she is the representative of Goddard Schools, the franchising company located in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Jenna Kovelman stated that she is one of four partner franchisees for this location. They are seeking a Special Use Permit for a Goddard School in Deerfield. She noted that as a working parent of three children she understands the importance of quality childcare and education. She commented that it was very hard to find quality childcare and when they came across the idea of opening a Goddard School they became inspired. She and her partner Jane Faynshteyn have changed their careers, will be owners and operators of the school, and will be on site full- time. Ms. Kovelman stated that she has a degree in Early Childhood Education and is seeking to make the Goddard School part of the Deerfield community. She added that Goddard corporate provides a great deal of support to all of their 500 schools around the country.
Ms. Kovelman stated that she and her partners have visited other Goddard locations in Vernon Hills and Skokie and the owners of these schools have inspired them. They too want to see happy parents and happy children in their school daily.
Ms. Kovelman commented that she and her partner Jane Faynshteyn will be on site full-time operators. They both have experience managing budgets and teams of employees and are both parents of young children. Ms. Faynshteyn was formerly a Chicago Public Schools teacher and Ms. Kovelman worked for one of the largest non-profits in the state. It is very important for them to have meaningful jobs and they are very excited to own and operate a Goddard School in Deerfield.
Boris Kholyavsky stated that he is a 2001 Deerfield High School graduate and is excited to give back to the community as a business owner in Deerfield. He noted that he currently works as a business consultant for Accenture and is familiar with business operations and advising clients. Commissioner Bromberg asked Mr. Kholyavsky what his role is. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that he is a franchisee and his wife Jane will be the on-site operator along with Ms. Kovelman.
Erin Witt of Goddard Schools corporate shared that they are in their 30th year of operation and will open their 500th school this year. They serve children ages six weeks old to six years old in their schools. She explained that potential franchise operators must petition Goddard corporate and they then complete a demographic study to see if there is a need for their school in the community. Every franchise has on-site owner-operators and receive a great deal of support from the corporate office. Ms. Witt explained that they offer their franchisees business consultants as well as educational support staff to help train teachers for the curriculum that is derived from their Educational Advisory Board. This Board consists of internal Goddard staff as well as professionals outside of Goddard corporate including pediatricians, professors, and others. Goddard encourages learning through play and they follow a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum for all age groups in their schools.
Ms. Witt stated that Goddard corporate seeks to assist every school to reach the highest level of accreditation available in their state. They always help to achieve the highest rating and are very proud of this goal at Goddard. Ms. Witt added that her son goes to a Goddard School and she loves to rave about what he has learned there. They offer enrichment programs including yoga, music, soccer, and they really interact with the kids to make sure they are well rounded.
Mr. Kholyavsky shared more about the proposed location. He stated that he is very familiar with the area since he grew up here. He was very excited about the location of the school based on the qualitative aspects; there are several large corporate headquarters in the area and this location will provide support to these working parents. Mr. Kholyavsky reported that Goddard corporate’s demographic study found that there are over 11,000 children age five and below within a five-mile radius of the location. They also looked at daily traffic and visibility of the building and signage. Mr. Kholyavsky stated that the data supports this location, and he is confident there is a demand and that the community will support this business and supplement the growth and development in the area.
Ms. Kovelman provided an overview of the school and the building. The proposed space is 10,325 square feet with a 5,000 square foot outside playground divided into two areas, for younger and older children. They will have nine classrooms, a teachers’ lounge, a kitchen, offices for directors and owners, restrooms and storage. They will serve children six weeks to six years of age and will have 14 designated parking spots including one accessible space right next to the school. She displayed the site plan to point out the designated parking spaces. The school will operate Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be licensed for a total of 140 children. They plan to hire 18 teachers to start and as they grow, they will hire a head teacher as well as a full-time director. Ms. Kovelman added that they will have a kitchen with a convection oven for hot lunches and snacks but will not have any open flames for cooking present in the kitchen.
Ms. Kovelman reported that all Goddard Schools have strict security protocols. The school is always locked and parents must sign in and out when they enter and exit and all visitors must present an ID. There are inspections made unannounced to ensure the security protocols are followed. Ms. Kovelman added that they plan to open in May 2019.
Ms. Kovelman explained that the 14 designated parking spaces are intended for drop-offs and pick-ups. The designated parking spots will be just north of the building. Parents will have to park their car and walk their children to the school, sign them in, and then leave. There will be no drop-off without getting out of their cars. She added that the main entrance on the north side is a very short walk.
Commissioner Bromberg confirmed that this type of drop-off is typical of all Goddard Schools. Ms. Kovelman continued stating that they will not have a designated time for drop-off and pick- up and parents can come and go with their children anytime within the hours of the school. They expect mornings and evenings to be the busiest, there should be no time that drop-off, and pick- up is overwhelming. Commissioner Jacoby asked if the 14 designated spots will have signage. Ms. Kovelman replied that yes, those spaces will have signs. They will also ensure that parents are informed of all safety measures and all requirements that they are asked to follow.
Commissioner Jacoby commented that she is worried about other people parking in these 14 spaces. Ms. Kovelman replied that they hope this will not happen because the spaces are not close or convenient to any other businesses.
Chairman Berg asked if they anticipate overflow drop-off parking to be on the north of the site if the 14 spaces are taken. Ms. Witt replied that Goddard corporate likes to see 10 to 12 spaces for pick-up, drop-off, and that they commonly turn over 8 to 10 times per hour. She added that the average drop-off and pick-up takes about five minutes and they have parking studies that support this.
Commissioner Jacoby asked where the staff would park. Ms. Witt replied that staff would be asked to park in the main lot. Mr. Kholyavsky added that there is also parking available in the back and across the drive aisle. He added that there is more than enough parking spaces to make sure all staff and overflow from parents can be accommodated.
Chairman Berg asked if there is a designated crosswalk between the main entrance and the north parking lot. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that a striped crosswalk is a great idea and they will look into this.
Mr. Kholyavsky stated that part of the existing parking lot will be the location of the playground and there will be left with ample spaces for drop-off and pick-up. Mr. Kholyavsky showed images of playgrounds at other Goddard Schools to give the Commission an idea of what the equipment will look like. He explained that Goddard Schools promote learning and play through the use of primary colors. Mr. Kholyavsky also showed sample signage at other Goddard Schools throughout the state. He commented that signage is very clean and will match the rest of the decor.
Commissioner Jacoby asked for more information about the location of the playground. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that the playground would be over a portion of the existing west parking lot. Ms. Kovelman added that the playground would take up 24 existing parking spaces and that 14 will remain for the designated drop-off spots. Commissioner Jacoby commented that there are additional spaces located in the back of the building, as well.
Chairman Berg confirmed that staff would park be on the south side of the building and asked how many spaces are located there. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that there are about 10, which would be sufficient for employee parking.
Commissioner Goldstone confirmed they are taking over the space that is currently the Thai restaurant. She also asked why the entrance is planned to face the shared parking instead of face west. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that to maximize the internal layout, it made sense to put the main entrance on the north end. Ms. Kovelman added this also ensures that each classroom gets as much sun from the windows as possible.
Chairman Berg asked if the driveway along the north side where the main entrance is located is a designated fire lane. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that he does not believe so.
Ms. Witt said stated that Goddard corporate has parking requirements for parents that will be reviewed with them when they sign up. She added that if parents fail to follow this, they will be warned and there are repercussions.
Commissioner Goldstone commented that Deerfield Park District summer camps sometimes bus kids to Sachs and parents will line up for pick-up along the site which could cause an issue.
Chairman Berg asked about accessibility to the playground. Ms. Witt stated that once someone enters the school, they are in a secure location and the playground will only be accessed through the building. The playground will have six-foot fencing and there will be panic bars on the fencing as well. Chairman Berg asked what type of fencing would be used. Ms. Witt replied that they typically use two different types are Goddard approved fencing. They require six- foot fencing with spacing between metal pickets that are black metal or vinyl. The two playground will be separated internally by a four-foot fence.
Commissioner Bromberg commented that the signage slightly exceeds the Village’s size requirements and asked if it is possible to conform so that they do not need to ask for any exceptions. Ms. Witt replied that yes, the sign square footage can be lowered to conform to the Village Zoning Ordinance.
Chairman Berg stated that another day care provider in Deerfield installed decorative boulders around the playground for protection from the possibility of an out of control vehicle and asked if they are planning to do this as well. Ms. Witt replied that corporate will not approve a location unless they can add vehicle protection around the site. They add steel posts bollards with a reinforced rebar cage that can stop a 5,000-pound vehicle at up to 35 miles per hour. These will be installed anywhere a car can come within 30 feet of a child.
Commissioner Shayman asked if there is a ramp from the parking lot into the sidewalk for accessibility to get from the parking lot to the entrance. Mr. Kholyavsky replied they are proposing one accessible space and that there will be a curb cut (ramp) for wheel chairs near the entrance.
Commissioner Jacoby asked if there is a set time when programming begins for preschool age students. Ms. Witt replied that their peak drop-off time is between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and programming typically starts around 9 a.m. She stated that the playgrounds are in use from 9 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. She added that drop-off, pick-up is often spread out, and not all staff will be there at all times.
Commissioner Bromberg asked if someone could park in the north lot, walk to the train, and leave their car there all day. Mr. Kholyavsky replied that there is always a chance, but they plan to enforce this with signage and towing if necessary.
David Dresdner, owner of Deerfield Park Plaza, reported that access to the train from this side of the property is blocked off. He stated that they are hopeful that there will be a gateway to provide access through their property, but currently there is no access. He explained that they currently place sticky paper on windows of cars that are parked too long and will continue to do this. He noted that the 14 designated spaces would have signage that says short-term parking only. All spaces in the plaza are on a shared basis and they have about 750 total shared spaces. The area where these 14 spaces are located is a particularly protected area in that there are very few other tenants that will find it convenient parking. The next closest spaces are located to the south and these spaces are seldom used. In addition, to the west there are another 35 spaces south of the Barking Lot that are also always open. These areas are suggested employee parking and it will be sufficient. He added that this is a good location for Goddard to situate their use.
Commissioner Silva asked if there is any concern about increased traffic off Lake Cook Road with the proposed new residential development. Mr. Dresdner replied that this is a relatively low impact use compared to a restaurant. He stated that the center’s peak hour is around noon, which will not be peak hours for drop-off and pick-up at Goddard School or for residents coming and going from the proposed new development. He added that they do not experience traffic issues at the south cross access the way they do at the north cross access point with Deerbrook Mall. This back (south) area of Deerfield Park Plaza is a low traffic area and the Goddard School is a low traffic use. He stated that they are very comfortable with the traffic impact and they think this is a very good use.
Mr. Dresdner added that they have owned the center for about 12 years and when they first purchased the property, this space was Nick’s Fish Market and there was a long vacancy between Nick’s and the former Abruzzo restaurant. He stated that he wants to share this background to help the Commission understand why they are investing in this change in use from a restaurant use to Goddard, which is the best day care operator there is. He stated that they are moving the Jimmy Thai restaurant to the former Boston Blackie’s location. Mr. Dresdner stated that when Nick’s Fish Market, an experienced restaurant operator, went under and that was a telling sign as the owner. He commented that Abruzzo then struggled to run such a large restaurant. They learned that national restaurant chains will not look at the rear of a shopping center like this and they concluded that a restaurant in this space was obsolete and would not work. They considered other uses there such as entertainment, gyms, or salons. In addition, when Goddard approached them they were ecstatic and thought it was the perfect use for that space and that this service is needed in the community. Goddard needed 10,000 square feet and so they proposed moving the Thai restaurant to the former Boston Blackie’s space so Goddard could take over both spaces (Jimmy Thai restaurant space and former Abruzzo restaurant space). They believe Goddard will enhance the center and drive traffic to other businesses. Mr. Dresdner stated that they are very excited to have them.
Commissioner Bromberg asked if this proposal is approved and the Thai restaurant moves, if the center will then be fully occupied. Mr. Dresdner replied that they would close to full occupancy. He stated that the Thai restaurant will take not all of the Boston Blackie’s space and there is one small vacancy next door. He added that other new tenants include a taco restaurant and a smoothie place.
Commissioner Jacoby commented that this is a great use of the space and is in favor of the Goddard proposal as long as they make it clear that employee parking should be near the Barking Lot and that the Village’s sign requirements are followed.
Commissioner Bromberg commented that this mall is a tough one for retail as it has no visibility from the road and even though this use is not a sales tax generator, it is better than empty space. Moreover, with the new residential development it is a nice fit.
Mr. Kholyavsky commented that they hope to indirectly generate sales tax at other local businesses.
Chairman Berg commented that he thinks it is a great fit for the community as well as for the shopping center and he wishes them luck.
Mr. Nakahara stated that the Public Hearing on this matter will be July 12, 2018 and they are also scheduled to appear before the Appearance Review Commission on June 25, 2018.
The documents were approved with no corrections to the minutes and recommendations.
Items from the Staff:
Mr. Ryckaert reported on upcoming Plan Commission agenda items.
There being no further discussion, Commissioner Bromberg moved, seconded by Commissioner Jacoby to adjourn the Workshop Meeting at 8:21 p.m. Said motion passed with a unanimous voice vote.