No Immigrant Day Care in West Orange
WEST ORANGE, NJ – Following an emotional and at times heated public hearing, the West Orange Zoning Board decided to deny an application of a South American immigrant to open a day care center in her home. The Board cited several zoning difficulties in approving this kind of application, despite it being “inherently beneficial”, as the applicant’s planner, Peter Steck, tried to describe it in his testimony before the Board.
The applicant, Daniela Piacenza, an immigrant from Venezuela, was asking the board to approve her request to open a day care center in her home so she could quit her current job. The Zoning Board Chairman, Mr. Philip Neuer, publicly stated his dissatisfaction with the fact that the main purpose of Ms. Piacenza in opening the day care center was to make money. There was even a heated debate between Board members regarding the validity of such request that is based on monetary value.
During direct testimony, Ms. Piacenza admitted that she did not have any background in education or child care. It was also not clear if and when she plans to obtain certification from The State of New Jersey. This point raised further concern with Board members. In addition, Ms. Piacenza, who had difficulties speaking during the hearing, did not disclose her legal status in the US, nor did she indicate whether she was legally authorized to work in the US.
Mr. Philip Neuer cited the fact that Ms. Piacenza purchased the property in question for the sole purpose of creating the day care. “This is not the way we do things here,” said the Chairman, indicating that Ms. Piacenza should have bought the property on contingency.
Mr. Neuer also dismissed Mr. Steck’s testimony about the benefit of the day care as no study was conduct on other day cares in West Orange or in the immediate area. Mr. Steck admitted that if there were many daycare centers in the area, it would diminish the magnitude of benefit the daycare center would produce.
Objectors to this application warned about potential noise from the day care, stating that contrary to what Mr. Steck described as a family day care with up to 8 children, which land use laws permit, the proposed plan calls for a massive daycare with much more than what the cited law discusses.
At the end of the hearing, the application was denied 7:0.