Conrad adjustment board rejects daycare request amidst capacity crowd

Home Sweet Home Childcare Operator Lisa Hines applied for a special exception variance to move her business from rural Grundy County to a residential property on Circle Drive in Conrad (pictured), but the city’s board of adjustment voted 5-0 to reject the application after a hearing last Thursday. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Due in no small part to the objections of nearby residents, the Conrad Board of Adjustments voted unanimously to turn down a daycare provider’s request to move her business into town at 746 Circle Drive after a standing room only public hearing at city hall on Thursday night.


“It’s kind of like a church,” Home Sweet Home Chilcare Director Lisa Hines said on Friday. “If you don’t welcome new people and younger people in, your church is going to die, and it’s the same with a community… It’s a missed opportunity for them.”


Hines had been operating from an acreage located about five miles north of Conrad on 290th Street and watching around 16 kids with the help of a part-time assistant and a volunteer, and she applied for a special exception variance to relocate HSH to a residential area at another property she and her husband Mike own in town directly south of the high school softball field. She hoped to serve as many as 32 children.


When her plans became public, however, the neighbors quickly organized against the proposal, citing several factors: noise, property values, and safety concerns on a busy street corner, to name a few.


“A lot of us that live here are opposed to it because it’s going to turn the property into commercial type real estate,” one of them said. “We just don’t want congestion over there.”


Hines countered, however, that she and Mike had lived at the house in question from 2008 to 2015 (in August, they retook possession from the contract buyers they’d sold it to) while caring for 12 children and never heard a single complaint from the neighbors.


“What changed?” she asked.


Board chairman Gregg Sharp told The Grundy Register that in his understanding, if the Hineses had chosen to live at the house on Circle Drive, the city could not stop them from running an in-home daycare, but the fact that it would be set up as a non-residential business necessitated an application for an exemption from the zoning ordinance.


“For the committee to make a decision where you’ve got several very nearby neighbors opposing it, it made it pretty difficult to want to approve it,” he said. “There were too many unanswered questions to be able to approve it.” 


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