Howard planners recommend child care center be rejected; Company seeks to build 10,466-square-foot facility


The Howard County Planning Board voted unanimously yesterday to recommend rejection of what would be, if approved, one of the county's largest child care facilities.

Tutor Time Learning Systems Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., wants to build a 10,466-square-foot facility on 2 1/2 acres at the northwest corner of Old Frederick Road and Rogers Avenue in Ellicott City. The facility would have two outdoor play areas -- one of them larger than 11,000 square feet -- and operate from 6: 30 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. weekdays.

The Board of Appeals is scheduled to vote Jan. 20 on whether to approve the facility.

Andrea Marcoux, a district manager for Tutor Time, said the company has 188 child care centers across the United States, each accommodating from 150 to 200 children. These days, she said, that's not especially large.

"For us that's not unusual," she said. As for the size of the building, she said: "This is actually small."

Lisa Lockwood, director of the Children's Discovery Center in Gateway Plaza Shopping Center, said day care centers are getting bigger to respond to an increased need for infant care. She said infants are so costly to care for that, to break even, a company must increase its enrollment of older children.

She said there is a huge need for more infant care in Howard County; her waiting list for infant care alone has more than 300 people on it.

More than a dozen neighbors from at least three community groups came to the planning meeting yesterday to object to the center.

"There will be an increased risk of accidents," said Debbie Fieldhouse, president of the Mount Hebron/Orchards Community Association.

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