City grapples with pair of day care dilemmas
Supporters wanted to expand number housed at facilities
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A proposed ordinance aimed at increasing the number of children allowed in a home day care from six to 12 was rejected by the Hartselle City Council at its last meeting.
All four council members present voted against the measure. Council President Kenny Thompson was not in attendance and President Pro Tem Mark Mizell chaired the meeting.
Prior to a public hearing, City Attorney Larry Madison reminded the council that the proposed zoning change had citywide application. Later, he told them that the Board of Zoning adjustment would not have sufficient reason to deny an application for a home day care based solely on opposition from neighbors. He said it would have to have a “compelling reason” for denial.
Ten persons spoke either for or against the proposal during a public hearing.
Cissy Pearson, a resident of 602 Mohawk Street and a mother of three children, said she and her neighbors fear that opening up home day cares to more than six children would lead to unwelcome traffic and noise in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
Guy Brown, who identified himself as a real estate appraiser with 40 years of experience, said bigger home day cares would have a negative effect on property values.
Jonathan Mayer questioned the purpose of a public hearing. “I read in a newspaper earlier today that regardless of the public hearing the proposal will be denied. Before then I was under the impression that you would listen to the public and then decide how to vote,” he stated.
John and Connie Holladay of 616 Fairlane Drive said they prefer a home day care for their child because of a bad experience they had with a commercial day care center.
Fran Clampett, a career day care provider from Madison, said the bottom line for day care is parents ought to have a right to choose where they want to place their children.
Marge Peterson, a licensed home day care operator who has supported the zoning ordinance change from its inception, said parents no longer have a choice about where to place their children for day care because there is no space available.
Day care center owner Sybil Culbertson said, “We are set up the way a day care center should be. No one can give more attention to the child than we can.”
The proposed zoning change failed to win approval when it was considered by the Hartselle Planning Commission. It was passed on to the council without a recommendation on a vote of 3-3-1.