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October 22, 2019

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Fighting expansion on Henderson’s rural edge, inch at a time

Dan Abendroth

Leila Navidi

Dan Abendroth, right, and Valda Clarke attend a Henderson City Council meeting June 16 to oppose an assisted living facility and the expansion of a day care in a rural preservation district.

Henderson Council Meeting

Members of the audience stand up at the Henderson City Council meeting after being asked who supports granting a day care owner in the Mission Hills neighborhood permission to double the size of her facility and to add a 40-bed assisted living facility for seniors Tuesday, June 16, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Coyote Kids Day Care

Toxic waste dumps, hog farms, sex shops — these are the kinds of businesses that, when they announce they’re moving in, make neighborhoods rise up in revolt.

Dan Abendroth lengthens that list to include “assisted living facility for seniors” and “larger day-care center.”

It’s not, Abendroth says, that he has anything against the elderly or children. He’s not envisioning rampaging gray hordes or gun-toting tots. Heck, he and his wife run a Christian day care and preschool. So what’s his objection?

Traffic, primarily.

His neighborhood in southernmost Henderson is a rural preservation district of about 300 homes in roughly two square miles — big lots, open spaces, horses. And as chairman of the Mission/Paradise Rural Alliance, Abendroth is sworn to defend the quiet character of his neighborhood from suburbia and its cars.

This brings us to last Tuesday night, with Abendroth sitting in the council chamber at Henderson City Hall, believing he has the support of two city council members.

It is time to do battle.

Abendroth tells the council there are already too many parks, churches and schools on the borders of the neighborhood. He asks city fathers incredulously: the council would allow the construction of a 20-person seniors’ home combined with an expansion of the day-care center from 35 to 81 children — within the very rural preservation district itself (albeit on the corner of it)? And what if they want to expand later? This is the thin edge of the wedge.

Abendroth says that although the day-care center (it has, in fact, been in the neighborhood longer than Abendroth) is excellently run, an expansion is totally unacceptable. As for the assisted living facility, Abendroth is not unwilling to compromise. Perhaps it could be built on city land next to the highway.

Abendroth asks everyone who has come to the meeting to oppose this development to stand up. Three people do.

Newly and narrowly elected Mayor Andy Hafen asks Abendroth if this is the official position of the full neighborhood association.

Well, there hasn’t been a vote, Abendroth allows, not per se. But he did put out petitions at the meetings, both opposing and in favor of the project. About a dozen more people signed the opposing petitions.

And what about the people who weren’t at the meetings?

They support their elected leader, Dan Abendroth, Abendroth says. It’s a silent majority.

Now it is the other side’s turn.

John Marciano, the lawyer for (and neighbor of) the Coyote Kids Child Care center and the proposed Mission Beehive Homes franchise, steps before the council. He asks everyone who has come to support the project to stand up. About a dozen people do, and they speak, one by one.

Jill Haven is a teacher and she sends her children to the day-care center. She says her students will be able to do community service at the assisted living facility.

Abendroth, back in his seat, whispers, “What does that have to do with anything?”

It’s time for the council to deliberate.

The only members to speak are those Abendroth believes he has in his corner.

Councilwoman Gerri Schroder makes a brief statement addressing Abendroth that starts with, “And you know how hard I fight for you ...”

Councilman Steve Kirk makes a brief statement that starts with, “I came here today not intending to support this project ...”

By now Abendroth knows he’s toast.

The council votes unanimously in favor of the assisted living center and the day-care center.

Kirk and Schroder’s vote switch are “typical” of politics, Abendroth says later. But there will be other days and other fights.

Abendroth vows continued vigilance.

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