There was an article in Leesburg Today a couple of weeks ago about the possible closing of home-based daycares in community of Lansdowne on the Potomac. It turns out that in a community of more than 2000 houses, 10 residents expressed their concern to the 3 members of the Board of Directors. These 10 residents evidently felt that home-based daycares were causing some sort of strain on the community.

Here were their main points:

“If you do not have children today in one of these daycare sites or do not plan on having children in the future who will use one of these daycare providers there is absolutely no benefit to you to allow [daycares in Lansdowne]…

So…if you DO have children or plan on having children in a daycare, or manage to pay your bills based on income from a daycare you should obviously just bend over, take it, and stop your whining.

“There are at least 11 daycare sites already in operation that we know about. There may be others {cue dramatic music here}. As all of us who purchased homes in Lansdowne know there are covenants that we signed, documents agreeing to abide by. These daycare facilities are in violation of these covenants.

There are actually 7 home-based daycare providers that are officially licensed through the state and the county. These home-based daycares are not in violation of the aforementioned covenants, as every law in the land–federal, state, and county–consider home-based daycares as residential use.

“If we do not stop this, there is no limit to the number of daycare sites {dramatic music again} in the community. The HOA lawyer has stated this to the Covenants Committee. This could mean these types of businesses could grow and no controls on that growth can be established. Setting this precedent could also open the door for other types of businesses. Do you want to live next to a home that is used day in and day out as day care?

  • Do you want up to 9 children running around in the yard next to you from 7am to 7pm?
  • Do you want parents dropping and picking up children next to you up to 18 times per day, day in and day out? Traffic is already increased at these current locations.
  • Do you think someone would buy your home knowing that this is going on and note that you may have to disclose this in any real estate transaction?

Apparently, it’s not about what has happened or what is happening, it’s about what COULD happen. So now that we know that there is no real evidence of disturbances or inconveniences resulting from daycares, then it is obviously necessary to project some nightmare scenario where 9 (gasp) children are running around in a yard…all day.

This group and the “board” that has done its bidding has shown no evidence of any substantially increased traffic, or any accounts showing that a daycare center has negatively impacted the neighborhood. Meanwhile, next-door neighbors of these daycare centers have expressed confusion as to why this HOA would consider prohibition of daycares.

What if a family decided to have 9 kids of their own (it is possible)? Would the HOA decide that these 9 kids running around in a yard is a blight on the precious home values of their neighbors. Or would it make more sense to assume that a community that apparently prides itself as being family-friendly might find value in having daycares in some of its homes.

But these benefits only apply to people with children. And their needs and positions on this issue seem to be lost in all of this.

Everyone buying a home in Lansdowne paid a lot of hard earned money for their home. We need to protect the investment that each of us made and we need to ensure that the governing body of Lansdowne, the Board of Directors, understands that their duty is to protect this community from any activities that will degrade our property values…

Everyone buying a home in Lansdowne who ran a daycare before got the home with the understanding that they would be able to operate it. My daycare provider (yes I have a dog in this fight) actually INTERVIEWED A PROSPECTIVE MOTHER in the Brookfield model home. These daycare providers received loan approvals based on income from these daycares.

And there is absolutely no evidence that a home-based daycare in and of itself negatively impacts property values around it. Obviously one with unruly, unsupervised children, or badly managed facilities definitely could. If these poorly run daycares exist, then the issues they cause should be brought up to the Board. In the meantime, telling hardworking families that they can’t continue to live in your neighborhood, because too many of them might affect property values is disturbing.

The truth is, most of us are experiencing a dip in housing values, and are all concerned about protecting our investments, however an HOA’s job is not to police every little thing that MIGHT effect house values, especially those things that occur inside someone’s home.
Unfortunately, these residents are going to actually have to file real complaints with real evidence that a particular daycare is negatively affecting its neighbors, instead of lazily trying to prevent the POSSIBILITY of a daycare having said effect.

Please comment below and forward to all you know. Apparently there’s a follow-up article coming out in Leesburg Today again this week, and I will update with news on this site.

Update:
Tammi over at Living in Loco has a published an article on the issue.

Update: The Loudoun Times has an article out on this now. It highlights Oksana, who is confused how easy it is going to be for Russian parents to find another Russian speaker to watch their children.

Please read the article, but I will highlight Mr. Lair’s comments.

“It’s not that I’m against home businesses or day care,” he said. “I’m against covenants violations.”

Now I’m sure Mr. Lair is a wonderful person, but the covenants of which he speaks do allow for a home-based business. (By the way, does anyone know if this is the same Jim Lair that runs the DC office of a software company out of his home?–can’t be the same guy–but either way software companies are just way sexier than daycares. If it’s not the same Jim Lair, then sincerest apologies.)

And by the way, it’s hard to really talk “covenants” when THERE IS NO LONGER A COVENANTS COMMITTEE. The same covenants committee that moved and approved that “Daycare centers and other home businesses are to register with Covenants.” And then never met again.

The covenants do indeed allow for home-based businesses (including Mr. Lair’s–if indeed it’s the same Mr. Lair) The covenants committee and the HOA as a whole has the power to approve these daycares, but they just don’t want to.

And as we saw above, Mr. Lair DOES have a problem with daycares, and it would be more productive for him to just admit that. In case you missed it above, this was Mr. Lair’s letter to the community:

  • Do you want up to 9 children running around in the yard next to you from 7am to 7pm?
  • Do you want parents dropping and picking up children next to you up to 18 times per day, day in and day out? Traffic is already increased at these current locations.
  • Do you think someone would buy your home knowing that this is going on and note that you may have to disclose this in any real estate transaction?

No mention of covenants here…just fear of what COULD happen with a daycare in particular.

Update: Follow up article on Leesburg Today.

Correction: It turns out I was mistaken in stating that the Covenants Committee had not met lately. Apparently they reconvened in February. Apologies.

Home-Based Daycares In Lansdowne
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3 thoughts on “Home-Based Daycares In Lansdowne

  • Allowing ten people to speak for a community of 2000 homes is ridiculous. Children are not running rampant in these homes – some are daycares, some are preschools – all are legal and licensed in the county and/or state and run by licensed professionals.

    While I can see that people without children might prefer that children be seen and not heard (and maybe not seen, either), the reality is that Northern Virginia and particularly the Ashburn and Leesburg areas are full of families. If you don’t want kids around you, move to an over-55 community. How old are these complainers, anyway…?

    Perhaps it is against current HOA guidelines to have a home-based business but it was not when these people purchased their homes and began their businesses. The were given explicit permission and approval by the original HOA. If the rules were changed later, that isn’t their fault. I’m all for following rules and am pretty obsessive about that, but this is just mean-spirited. Put the issue to vote within the community and then see if the guidelines should be changed. If the majority of homeowners say it should be okay, change the rules. If the majority say they don’t want it, then that’s another story. It’s unfair to suddenly begin enforcing a rule (if it was one) after people were already approved.

    What’s next? No more Tupperware parties? No more Pampered Chef parties? No more Southern Living parties? No insurance office from home? If the rule is that people cannot run a business at home wherein other people come to their house, where do you draw the line?

    Those ten Lansdowne residents who have issue with home based businesses should be happy now that they’ve given Lansdowne a reputation of rich snobs living in mansions.

  • updates will now be done by comments:

    A recent comment on Living in Loco:

    “I live in Montgomery County, MD and I was considering on buying a home in Loudoun County, because we thought it was family friendly, but if HOA’s are planning to shutdown all home based businesses, why would anyone want to move into such an expensive area and not be able to work in their own homes?”

    Thanks God the HOA is protecting those home-values.

  • “It was brought to the attention of the Association’s managing agent a few months ago that there were residents operating home businesses in violation of the Association governing documents.”

    So begins Eric Florence’s letter to the community. He seems to have forgotten about the Board meetings in early 2006 that he attended where home businesses were discussed. He seems to have forgotten about the ads for home-based daycare that used to appear on the Lansdowne Web site. He seems to have forgotten about discussions he had with Lansdowne Development Corporation regarding the approvals they granted. Even Jim Lair admits that “the problem has been going on for four or five years.” Eric Florence and the Board would like for you to believe that they had never heard of a home business in Lansdowne until this year. The facts show a different story.

    “This is not a home daycare issue exclusively; rather it is a home business issue. Our documents outline the difference between a ‘home office’, which is allowed, and a ‘home business’ which is not.”

    The authors of Policy Resolution No. 8 managed to do what no one else can — distinguish between a home office and a home business. All hail the might Policy Resolution No. 8, which is about as clear as the “ponds” in Lansdowne. (I guess ‘pond’ does sell more houses than storm water management.)

    “Finally, during the course of this process there have been comments made that Lansdowne on the Potomac is not family friendly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of our amenities and activities are geared toward families with children of all ages. There is an elementary and middle school, three County Parks with ball fields and basketball courts and 5 Tot-Lots. Each member of the Board of Directors is a parent and I believe we all place a high value on the quality of life for all children.”

    So high-quality daycare, which often takes the form of home-based daycare, is not integral to a child’s quality of life? How much time did your infant children spend in a commercial center?

    Notice that he did not emphasize the indoor pool among the amenities. That’s because it has been closed for a year. This neighborhood is so obsessed with appearances that the Board can’t even bring itself to update the web site to indicate that the pool is closed for repairs and mold problems. According to the web site, the indoor pool is open — enjoy your swim.

    “The board also asked the Covenants Committee to propose a plan whereby all residents who are currently operating a home business that is in violation of the governing documents have a reasonable period of time to come into compliance.”

    How long will this process take? Come into compliance? Nice weasel words, but you are avoiding the real question — HOW DO YOU PLAN ON ENFORCING THE COVENANT?

    I know that the Lansdowne financial reserves are quite adequate, but are you willing to spend them on setting legal precedent?

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