CASTLETON — A local woman is planning to build a new childcare center and preschool on Sand Hill Road that she hopes will be able to fit at least 60 children with room to expand.
Tearsa Brannock, owner of ABC Early Education Family Child Care and Preschool, said Thursday she is working on financing and permitting for what will be the Misty Acre Childcare Center and Preschool.
“We were supposed to actually break ground last month,” she said. “We had a couple hang ups as far as permitting, but everything is moving forward now with the hopes of breaking ground next month, proving everything continues to move forward and there are no other bumps in the road.”
Castleton Zoning Administrator Jonas Rosenthal said Thursday that a Development Review Board hearing was held on the project in March where Brannock was ultimately asked to provide the DRB with a site plan addressing draining, parking and lighting concerns. Once this plan is received, another DRB hearing will be scheduled. The board may then ask for more information or schedule another hearing.
According to minutes of the March 16 DRB hearing, Rosenthal stated that the zoning in that area allows for child care, with a complete site plan.
Brannock said she has about 18 years experience in child care. Her current program is a five-star program that can take 12 children, though right now it serves 18 on a rotating basis. There are 25 families on the waiting list for the expanded program.
She said the Sand Hill property belonged to her mother-in-law and once hosted a ranch-style home, which the family donated to the local fire department for use in a controlled burn exercise. The foundation was removed, and all that remains of the original buildings is a horse barn.
The new structure she hopes to build will have room for eight classrooms and 100 children, though initially it will only be four rooms with 60 kids.
Brannock said the project has posed some financial challenges, namely the appraisal coming in at less than what it will cost to build. She said this is owing in large part to a spike in the cost of building materials. She’s meeting with her lenders on Friday, she said, to see if they want a reappraisal.
Brannock said there’s a high demand for this service as evidenced by her waiting lists, but Castleton University plans to send early education students to her program.
According to the DRB meeting minutes, Richard Reardon, director of education at Castleton, told the board there are 14 students in the early childhood education program. Not all would be at Brannock’s at the same time, and some would be at other programs in the area.
If the Misty Acres project is delayed or doesn’t happen, Brannock said she plans to rent a facility in West Haven for some of those who’ve been on her waiting lists.
She believes the engineer she hired to create a site plan addressing the DRB’s needs will be ready within a few weeks. If all goes according to her hopes, the new facility could open before the end of the year.