Day-care centers might be within crawling distance

Commercial and residential day-care centers soon may be allowed to locate near each other.

Carson City planning commissioners approved an ordinance Thursday which, pending Board of Supervisor approval July 18, will change a rule that demanded facilities be separated by 500 feet. They also approved a change to day care rules so that residential day-care facilities can be located across both arterial and collector streets, not just arterials.

However, commissioners removed a residency requirement proposed in the ordinance that defined commercial day-care facilities as those without permanent residents and residential day cares as those with permanent residents.

Commissioner Roger Sedway argued day-care facilities shouldn't be defined by whether the operator lives in them or not. Rather, he argued, they should continue to be classified by their location in a particular zone. Sedway noted adding the residency definition would change to commercial only one day-care facility in the community -- that of Ron Gutzman, whose house at 2109 S. Roop St. is rented by Carrie Henson for Little Tykes Daycare.

The changes to the day-care ordinance were suggested by planning commissioners during a May discussion over whether to allow Henson a permit to move her facility to her home next door. Under the 500-foot rule, the move wasn't permitted. Henson is appealing that decision to the Board of Supervisors.

However, the ordinance changes which could have allowed Henson to move were deleted from the proposed ordinance Thursday. The ordinance as originally proposed would have defined Gutzman's facility, which he leases as a day care under an old permit that follows a facility rather than an operator, as a commercial center despite its location in a residentially zoned area.

Commissioners were irritated that despite the ordinance's application city-wide, it was clearly trying to address a specific situation.

In other business, commissioners also received their first look at a new rate structure for planning services, which will raise fees for permits to appeals as much as 95 percent.

Sedway argued the commission shouldn't have a say in how much the fees go up as the revenues are intended to enhance city coffers. Because of that, the decision to raise and how much should lay with city supervisors, he said.

Other commissioners disagreed, but were concerned about the effect of levying the rates at once. Commissioner John Peery suggested a tiered system that would see the new service fees come into being gradually.

Christianson also mused that the fees might be a way to offset property tax increases in the face of declining sales tax revenues. He also wondered if some of the proposed fees, which would still be subsidized by the city between 60 and 70 percent, would prohibit projects by homeowners and small businessmen.

A review of Carson City's planning fees shows the community development department only recoups $37,000 of the $865,000 it costs the department to process everything from special use permits to subdivision maps. A study of fee-related services shows the city subsidizes a variety of development permits between 95 percent and 100 percent.

Planners are looking for community input on the fee increases, and will continue to review the proposed increases. For information, call 887-2188.


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