ROCK SPRINGS — The city Planning & Zoning Commission handed down a 4-3 decision against allowing a Conditional Use Permit for a new daycare location at the home of Tara Hyatt, 1104 Whitewater Drive, following prolonged opposition complaints from neighbors.
Commissioners Keaton West, Gabe Bustos, Mike Shaw and Tim Sheehan voted against allowing Hyatt’s proposal, while commissioners Mark Erickson, Matthew Jackman and Sue Lozier were in favor of allowing Hyatt to set up her daycare facility, albeit on a four-month trial basis. Commission members Joe Drnas and Lauren Schoenfeld were absent.
Potential Problems “Over-exaggerated”
Hyatt spoke to commissioners prior to their vote, explaining that her goal was to have a daycare program at her home for no more than 10 school age children, with hours Monday through Friday 7:30-8:30 am and 3:30-5:30 pm
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Hyatt said, “before and after school.”
Potential problems with parking at the daycare location were “over-exaggerated,” Hyatt declared. “Not all the cars are going to come at 5:30…It will be more spread out.” In addition, she said that it was likely that some cars would have two or three children each, not one child per car for 10 different cars.
However, Hyatt’s request for a Family Child Care Home (FCCH) drew lengthy opposition comments from neighbors.
More of a Commercial Operation
Five different homeowners adjacent to Hyatt’s house spoke against the daycare idea at the meeting, with Acting City Planner Amy Allen and Planning Technician Amy Cox taking turns afterward reading letters from other residents near 1104 Whitewater Drive speaking out against allowing the daycare home.
Steve Wilson said he lived directly across the street from the Hyatt residence and that he had no doubt that the Hyatts were quality people who would provide excellent daycare.
That being the case, Wilson said, it was likely that there would always be the maximum 10 children using daycare at the Hyatt residence, making the daycare home more of a commercial enterprise.
“That’s a potential 20 car trips a day,” Wilson added. “That’s unacceptable.”
Wilson estimated that there would be approximately 5,200 car trips a year to the Hyatt daycare home, which would affect property values negatively in the neighborhood, in addition to drivers speeding to drop off their kids, making U-turns, potentially driving on the sidewalk, driving in bad weather, creating problems for pedestrians such as cross country runners who use Whitewater Drive, and neighborhood children and adults on bikes.
“You have an obligation to look at this from a ‘what if’ scenario, the worst case scenario,” Wilson told commissioners.
An End to a Quiet Neighborhood
Neighbors Kelly and Tina Pruitt also spoke out against allowing daycare at the Hyatt home.
“We’re approaching retirement, our peace and quiet years,” Kelly Pruitt said. “We don’t want to share our peace and quiet with a daycare center.”
Kelly Pruitt added that properties in the Whitewater Drive neighborhood had small yards, which would exacerbate the noise problem. “We know about school age kids,” Kelly Pruitt said. “We’ve had ‘em. We’ve raised ‘em. We have grandkids. They’re rambunctious.”
“There are people in that neighborhood in their 80s who can’t get out to complain,” another neighbor, Robyn Hopwood, told the commission. “We’re not young either. We have a beautiful, beautiful quiet neighborhood. If (Hyatt’s) successful, that’s the end of that.”
Proposed Trial Period
Commissioner Erickson proposed that Hyatt be allowed to try out her daycare proposal on a trial basis, provided that there were clear stipulations regarding parking and other requirements that had been used in the past when daycare homes had been approved.
Commissioners Jackman and Lozier supported the four-month trial idea. Jackman said that he favored the idea of giving people a second chance, and Hyatt hadn’t even been given a “first chance” yet.
Kelly Pruitt took the podium again to express concern that with so many letters and people speaking out against the Hyatt daycare proposal, it was strange that the Planning & Zoning Commission was still even considering the possibility of allowing the daycare home at 1104 Whitewater Drive.
West said he took note of the numbers coming out against the idea. Sheehan added concern about declining property values in the Whitewater Drive neighborhood if the daycare home were to be approved.
In the end, the 4-3 vote came down against allowing the Hyatt daycare home, even on a trial basis, given the concerns expressed by area residents.