CARY — A group of mothers and their children couldn’t wait to hug Bozenna Macijewska after the Cary Town Council agreed to allow the woman to expand her day care business.
“Hers is the best in-home day care you can find,” Kelly Cantwell said.
The Town Council on Thursday voted 4-3 to allow Macijewska to care for up to 12 children at Busy Bee Preschool on Lyerly Lane off of Walnut Street. Town rules prohibited her from watching more than five children without a special-use permit.
Macijewska said she has a waiting list of parents seeking her services. She said she keeps the children active, doesn’t let them watch TV and feeds them organic food.
But despite the preschool’s popularity, the expansion request pitted Macijewska against neighbors, who said they worried it would lead to too much traffic in the area. The request prompted a tense 90-minute discussion.
Some said parents often block the street when parking to pick up or drop off their kids.
About a dozen of Macijewska’s neighbors also questioned whether she lives at the school location, which is required by law for in-home day care centers.
“I’ve never met this lady, never even seen her in the neighborhood,” said Hedda Jennings, a neighbor.
Another neighbor, Melbern Bailey Jr., showed the council photos that he said showed parents’ cars blocking the street.
“You can see ... three cars can’t park side by side (in the driveway),” Bailey said, adding that expanding the business would exacerbate the problem.
Macijewska, who owns another house in Cary, showed the council her driver’s license and voter registration card as evidence that she lives at the house on Lyerly. She said she often leaves the preschool after business hours to see her children who live at her other house.
“I have a very, very hard life. I’m working hard to support myself and my children,” she said. “I have a heavy schedule every day. After I close my preschool, I must constantly keep my credentials and license up to date by attending evening continuing education workshops. I am also working in a health care facility part time.”
Council members seemed satisfied that Macijewska lives at the preschool but were divided over whether expanding the business would cause traffic problems.
In order to obtain a special-use permit, applicants must prove their proposals won’t cause traffic problems or endanger anyone. Town rules require preschools that serve up to 12 children to have at least four parking spots.
A traffic engineer said Macijewska’s driveway was big enough for six cars and that traffic on Lyerly wouldn’t be affected.
“I have to grudgingly accept expert comments,” Councilman Jack Smith said. “I just don’t agree with them.”
Smith voted against the expansion, along with Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson and Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. They said they’d rather see the council limit the preschool to caring for up to 10 children to reduce the risk of traffic problems.
The other four council members said they didn’t think limiting the preschool’s capacity would make much of a difference with traffic.
Council members said they wished Macijewska and her neighbors could have better handled their differences.
“I hate day care cases more than anything because they pit neighbor against neighbor and there’s so much animosity,” Councilman Don Frantz said.
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht