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Residents oppose day care center

But plans for Sugar 'n Spice Day Care are still alive as committee members deadlock on the owner's third proposal.

Sugar 'n Spice Day Care is anything but sweet to about 300 residents of Land O'Lakes.

About two dozen of those neighbors piled into the Old Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City on Thursday to fight a proposal to move the day care, now on Land O'Lakes Boulevard, to Bell Lake Road and Cox Drive.

Owner Robert Huber asked the county's Development Review Committee to approve a zoning exemption to put his business in a residential neighborhood on the edge of Lake Padgett Estates.

The day care would accommodate as many as 100 children.

But Huber's proposal as presently configured appears doomed.

Based on the recommendation of county zoning officials, who said putting a business so close to homes would be intrusive, the committee rejected the plan.

Committee members then considered if an 80-child day care would be acceptable. It wasn't. That plan also was defeated.

Finally, voting on a plan to allow a 60-child day care in the neighborhood, the four committee members deadlocked.

That forced the group to schedule another vote at its Aug. 26 meeting in New Port Richey.

Opponents of Sugar 'n Spice, who filled several rows at the courthouse, argued the day care would overload their small roads and fill the air with the noise of children.

"It's a traffic problem already," said Tim Hayes, a lawyer hired by some of the homeowners.

"It's going to be worse if you put a day care center in there with a driveway coming out."

Land O'Lakes Realtor Russell Adams, trying to sell the property to Sugar 'n Spice, said the widening of Land O'Lakes Boulevard from two lanes to six lanes prompted the day care to seek a new, safer location.

The day care's current site at 4222 Land O'Lakes Boulevard is expected to become a gas station.

Huber is licensed at his old place to accommodate 56 children, most of whom are from Land O'Lakes.

That fact weighed heavily in Huber's and Adams' arguments to place the day care among the homes.

"The whole point of this thing is to help the neighborhood," Adams told the committee.

But neighbors remained unconvinced. Day cares are fine, they said, but not in our back yards.

As Adams took the podium during Thursday's debate, he glanced back toward his opponents filling the seats.

"I'm beginning to feel like Custer," he said.

Ed Donahue, whose home on Peninsular Drive would sit across from the day care, was quick with an answer.

"The arrows are in the air," he said.