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November 7, 2006 > Child care permit put on hold

Child care permit put on hold

by Arnie Becker

It is hard to imagine a use permit that should be easier to get approved than one for a child care center run by folks who already own one and who are well-respected for the care they provide. At the October 24 Union City City Council meeting, this was a hot topic and the chamber was filled with both supporters and opponents of granting a use permit for a new residential child day care center that will accommodate up to 20 children.

The permit was denied by the planning commission at an earlier meeting and the public hearing on Tuesday was to give residents and interested parties an opportunity to speak their mind, for a maximum of three minutes each. Part of the opposition seemed to be stirred by the fact that the original survey sent by the city to surrounding residents stated that there would be a maximum of 30 children rather than the correct number of 20.

There were about 15 people supporting Joselito and Rosario Guzman and who uniformly praised the care, the organization, the dedication, and the love they give to children left in their charge. Some opposition came from older residents who live close to the proposed site at 2660 Hop Ranch Road. They felt that the early morning noise might disturb their sleep. Some residents worried about traffic snarls, while a few other day care operators expressed concern that the Guzman’s new child care center might compete too much with their own operations. Finally, several opponents worried about reduced property values in the neighborhood.

From testimony, pro and con, few facts emerged. No one had done a survey of other child care centers to see if there had been an increase in traffic; no one could say from experience that there was enough noise from such a center to be a problem for residents in surrounding homes; and no one had talked with families seeking child care to see if they were having difficulty finding a facility that met their needs.

A divided council debated whether or not to approve the requested permit. In the end, council delayed a decision, asking instead that the Guzmans have individual meetings with the neighbors in an attempt to address some of the expressed concerns. Council also asked the Guzmans to consider whether or not they could reduce the maximum number of children. It was mentioned that if they housed fewer than nine children they would not even need the use permit. If there were a maximum of 14 children they would only have to deal with the planning commission. In both cases, the process would be much easier than the permit process required for a center with more than 14 children.

Council asked the Guzmans to return in November for a final decision.

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