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Day care flap flares again; no motion to reconsider vote

Sep 6, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

Day care owner Jennifer Person asked Riverton City Council members Tuesday to reconsider her day care license that was denied Aug. 21.

"I would like to thank council members and the media who have covered the day care discussion the entire summer," Person said. "I am coming before you tonight to ask that you please reconsider my permit application."

Person reminded council members of the ordinance they passed during the Aug. 21 meeting that allows family child care homes for up to 10 children to exist in residential A zones.

"We are no longer voting against opposition to zoning," Person said. "I would like for council members to reflect back to the very first meeting on June 19, when you all said to me if there was anything you as the council could do, you would. The neighbors that originally opposed now say it is OK for me to have my day care in that area."

Summer-long issue

The controversy concerning Person's day care opening in zone A originally surfaced June 19 when council members denied approval for a new facility based on city zoning and protests filed against the applicant.

On Aug. 21, council members voted 4-3 to allow family child care homes in zone A. Immediately after the vote, the council denied applications from Person and Sara Hutchins, who had applied to open day cares in zone A -- Person's at 944 Big Horn Drive and Hutchins' at 327 Elk Drive -- which would comply with the new ordinance change.

Howard Armstrong addressed council members Tuesday and said he was in support of Person's request for reconsideration.

"I am a very strong supporter of day care centers," Armstrong said. "I personally have heard nothing but good things from neighbors on Elk Drive. I believe the council member Todd Smith in Person's ward has not heard the positive feedback anymore. Those people really need to tell him."

Smith absent

Because councilman Todd Smith was absent from the meeting, Armstrong said council members needed to wait to discuss the issue until Smith could be present.

"I really think to stop any hard feelings or problems the council might have, we probably should not be discussing this until Smith has had time to talk to members in his ward," Armstrong said. "We need to allow everyone the opportunity to speak their mind."

Don Lambert said that without Smith at the meeting the discussion needed to be postponed.

"Smith represents our ward, and this is almost like the council members are trying to slide this under the door while our representative isn't here," Lambert said. "I didn't see anywhere that this was going to be on the agenda for tonight's meeting, and it basically says to the public that it wasn't important enough to be put on the agenda."

No motion to reconsider

Mayor Ron Warpness said he wanted to make it clear the council had no intentions of trying to slide anything under the door.

"Person has the right to ask for a reconsideration of the vote for denial of her permit application," Warpness said. "We as a council have an obligation to look at it. The vote can only be reconsidered by a council member who voted in the negative, and it has to be done at this meeting tonight."

Warpness said Person had the right to reapply for another day care license in the future if she wanted council members to vote again on her application.

"Person made a good point about our initial arguments," Warpness said. "It is now legal in zone A, but it still has to pass the muster of the council for her day care application, and that is where it was voted down. It is whatever the will of the council decides, and then we can move forward."

Council members Mary Ellen Christensen, Smith, Lars Baker and Richard Gard previously voted against Person's day care application and did not choose to reconsider their votes Tuesday.

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Riverton City Council