Day care for more than 100 children is safe for at least a month, but the fate of eight Lawrence day-care homes remains unclear as city commissioners await changes in a city ordinance.
During Tuesday's meeting, commissioners proposed creating a new zoning category for child care, which would allow the eight homes -- three of them owned by Jorge and Rosemary Valverde -- to remain in operation.
Commissioners directed staff to prepare a new ordinance within a month.
The Valverdes' homes at 2904, 2908 and 2912 W. 23rd Terr. sparked discussion last July about the city's current restrictions for child-care homes.
Planners said the current ordinance did not allow the homes to operate, unless a resident was the primary care provider. The requirement preserves the neighborhoods' residential characters, said Price Banks, planning director.
The Valverdes, however, maintained that their homes merely needed to have residents. Renters currently live in the three homes, but outside employees come in to provide care for the 12 children in each one.
After listening to discussion for three hours, Commissioner Bob Moody suggested a middle ground: Create a new zoning category allowing child-care homes in residential areas as long as someone -- anyone -- lives in the house. Such a use would require the commission's approval.
The issue of non-resident child care remains an "open question," Mayor John Nalbandian said.
"Maybe there is a middle area here," he said.
None of the 21 people addressing the commission saw that middle ground.
Mick Braa, 3105 W. 23rd Terr., complained about traffic in the neighborhood. The homes constitute a single business, he said, which is inappropriate for a residential area.
"They used to shuffle cars between the driveways" to make the homes appear to be residences, Braa said. "I've looked in the windows. I've peeked in during open houses. There was no adult furniture in there."
Margie Wakefield-Green, 3311 Clinton Pkwy. Ct., said she couldn't even understand what the big issue was. If it's traffic, she said, commissioners should lower the speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph. If there are too many homes too close together, they should mention concentration in the ordinance.
"Go fix real problems," said Wakefield-Green, a lawyer whose children have attended the Valverdes' homes for three years. "Don't try to fix ones that don't exist."
A "use permitted upon review" permit allows land in a particular area to be used for an "extraordinary" purpose, such as a hospital, group home or day-care center, Banks said.
Commissioners would consider each use on a case-by-case basis. The Valverdes, therefore, would need to apply for a UPR, unless commissioners granted an exception to the anticipated changes in the day-care ordinance.
"We still have a long way to go," Rosemary Valverde said after the meeting.
HERE'S WHAT else happened during Tuesday's meeting:
@sc7.5: Commissioners proclaimed:
- October as "Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
- Oct. 23 as "Buddy Poppy Day."
- Oct. 18-23 as "National Business and Professional Women's Week."
- Oct. 17-31 as "Independent Living Awareness Weeks."
- Oct. 16 and 17 as "Help the Mentally Disabled Citizens Days."
On the consent agenda, commissioners approved:
- Minutes from previous meetings of the commission and various other commissions, committees and boards.
- Payment of city bills: about $1.1 million to 269 vendors.
- Drinking establishment licenses for The Playhouse, 806 W. 24th, and the Jet Lag Lounge, 610 Fla.; a class B club license for Perry's Place, 623 Vt.; and a retail liquor license for Ray's Discount Party Center, 2100A W. 25th.
- A use permitted upon review request for a 100-bed congregate care/residence facility to be adjacent to the existing Brandon Woods Retirement Community, 1501 Inverness.
- Annexing nearly 25 acres of land at the southeast corner of Clinton Parkway and Inverness (extended south).
- Two rezonings for the agricultural land southwest of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Drive: 12.7 acres to RS-2 (single-family residence) and 12.2 acres to RM-2 (multiple-family residence).
- $17,000 as the fair market price for property at 416 Mich., and authorizing staff to make an offer to purchase the lot with Community Development Block Grant funds.
- A rental rehabilitation agreement for Ron Wright, for property at 724 N.Y.
- An ordinance, on first reading, making a technical correction to the city's franchise agreement with KPL/Western Resources. The agreement allows KPL to use city land for power lines and related equipment.
Commissioners removed the following items from the consent agenda for further discussion:
- A $21,500 contract with KPMG Peat Marwick for auditing the city's 1993 budget, and a possible extension through 1995. Commissioners approved the contract 4-1, with Commissioner Bob Moody Commissioner opposed. A local firm should have been selected, he said.
- A use permitted upon review for a proposed Century School, a private school to be located at 816 Ky. Commissioners approved the project 4-0, with Commissioner Bob Schulte abstaining because of a business interest.
On the regular agenda, commissioners:
- Conducted a 30-minute executive session with Gerald Cooley, city attorney, concerning legal issues related to current restrictions on child-care homes in Lawrence.
- Deferred until next week a draft of the Downtown Lawrence Development Study.
- Deferred until next week discussion of the city's options for regulating cable TV rates in Lawrence.
- Discussed the repair-or-demolish fates of several properties deemed structurally blighted. Commissioners deferred action for 222 N. Eighth, asked to set a repair deadline for 817 Walnut and extended the public hearing for 127 E. 17th for 60 days. Commissioners could order the structures either demolished or repaired.
- Authorized City Manager Mike Wildgen to sign agreements with the county and Wilson and Company Engineers, for plans to relocate utilities along the South Lawrence Trafficway. The city's total cost for relocating water and sewer lines will be about $1.36 million, according to a staff report.
In other action, commissioners:
- Deferred indefinitely Commissioner Bob Moody's request to discuss the possible expansion of Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Board of Trustees from seven to nine members.