Archive for Thursday, June 2, 2005

Day-care providers win exemption from permit

June 2, 2005

Joan Nye, who operates a day care out of her home south of Lansing, is among the dozens of day-care providers glad they won't have to receive county-issued permits to continue to operate.

Leavenworth County commissioners last week agreed to grant an exemption to a law requiring day-care providers to "special use" permits.

At a meeting with several small day-care providers Wednesday, Commissioners Donald Navinsky and Dean Oroke agreed to exempt licensed and registered day-care providers who operate their businesses on lots of 43,000 square feet and larger. The rationale given by Navinsky for the 43,000 square feet figure was that if a plot were much smaller, the day care facility would be more likely to be in a subdivision, closer to and more likely to bother neighbors.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber was out of town.

Without the exemption, special use permits are required under Leavenworth County's planning and zoning regulations for certain uses of land, including day cares, amusement parks, bed & breakfasts, cemeteries, mausoleums and crematoriums, rock crushers, airports and landing fields and salvage yards.

None of the women who attended the meeting to testify and discuss the issue had heard of the special use permit requirement until about four months ago.

Nye, a rural Leavenworth County day care provider, received a letter in the mail in early February that threatened her with a hefty fine and jail time if she didn't comply with the 30-year-old planning and zoning regulation she'd never heard of.

A week later, she received a letter asking her to disregard the first letter.

The first letter, sent out to all registered and licensed day-care providers in the county, told recipients they must have a special permit to operate a day-care facility in the county.

Application for the special use permit cost $300, and required a legal description of the property, a sketch of the area, and preliminary development plans for the area.

Violation of the regulation, the letter read, would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $5,000 or imprisonment up to six months.

Like Nye, all the letter recipients work out of their own homes in a business that is not known for being lucrative. Registered day-care providers may care for six or fewer children at a time, while licensed providers may care up to 10 children.

"I called Donald Navinsky that night," Nye said.

Janis Hutchens, another Leavenworth County day care provider who attended last week's meeting, said that after the shock of the letter had worn off, she had joked with other providers that they were the "Day Care Bandits."

After listening to testimony and discussion, Oroke apologized on behalf of the county for the first letter to the day care providers.

The commissioners will meet at 9 a.m . today, June 2, to consider the resolution granting exemptions to the special use permit requirement.

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