A proposed in-home daycare service brought a Tooele City neighborhood out in force to an open hearing to discuss safety and noise concerns.
The Tooele City Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for an in-home daycare to be located at 448 N. 100 West, but stipulated that the property owners must first install a six-foot fence around the backyard—a standard condition for in-home daycares in Tooele—in response to numerous concerns raised by neighbors about noise and privacy.
Neighbors and homeowners from residences directly north, south, east and west of the proposed in-home daycare attended the Sept. 25 hearing. All brought up concerns about noise, with some indicating that loud arguments and yelling had been problematic at that property in the past.
Because the lots in that area are especially small, residents said they feared noise and traffic at the site of the daycare could lower property values.
“Everybody is going to be traipsing through right next to my yard,” said Curtis Elton, who owns and rents the property just north of the proposed in-home daycare. While at the hearing, he expressed frustration at the planning commission because he said he felt like they had discounted his concerns before he had an opportunity to speak.
“Maybe I ought to put my home up for sale before this goes in,” he said.
Diana Cooper, the resident who plans to operate the daycare, acknowledged that young children can be noisy at times, but didn’t feel there was any way to effectively prevent noise from occurring in a daycare situation.
“You can’t control the noise,” she said. “A child is going to be a child.”
Cooper, who has rented the home in question for nearly two years, said she has never run a daycare before, but that she has watched her grandchildren on numerous recent occasions and thought the daycare would be a good way to introduce them to other kids from the Tooele area.
One neighbor, who did not attend the meeting, wrote a letter to the planning commission that indicates the property in question had allegedly been the subject of a recent early morning search-and-seizure operation involving agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Tooele City police confirmed that they had assisted the FBI in delivering a warrant to that address on Sept. 6. Inquiries to the FBI regarding the warrant were not returned as of press time.
In an interview Cooper said the FBI had removed several Redbox DVDs from the property during the search.
Chris Sloan, vice chair of the planning commission, said that although he had read the letter about the FBI search before the meeting, he considered the claim hearsay because the letter was not particularly detailed and because he received it on the day of the meeting.
Furthermore, because no one raised the issue at the meeting—although multiple neighbors were aware of the search—Sloan said it did not seem as large a concern as the neighbors’ complaints about noise.
Regardless of whether the search did in fact take place, Sloan said the issue was a question for the state to consider. Before the in-home daycare can begin operation, it must first receive a license from the state, in addition to the conditional use permit issued by the city.
Tooele City Planner Rachelle Custer said she had inquired about the alleged FBI search and was aware that a warrant regarding Redbox rentals had been executed.
Still, neighbors said they were concerned about the safety of the children who might enroll in daycare at the residence, not only because of the search, but also because the property in question was not fully fenced and because of a two to three-foot drop-off on the north side of the property.
After a lengthy discussion about where the required fencing would be located, the planning commission voted unanimously to approve the conditional use permit.
Cooper said she is currently waiting to hear back from her landlord about installing a taller fence on the property.