The Tooele City Council has discussed an amendment to the city code that would expand the number of children served at home day cares in the city.
City staff have been made aware there’s a shortage of properly licensed day cares in the city, according to City Planner Andrew Aagard.
“This leads to a concern about where all the other kids are being put into day care,” Aagard said. “If they’re being put into unlicensed day cares where they may be some unsafe conditions and so forth.”
Mayor Debbie Winn said concerns about the number of day care providers were brought to her by a Stansbury Park provider. She said some kids are going to day care providers that are not licensed by the state and the city is looking into ways to alleviate the shortage to ensure children’s safety.
“It’s a protection for our children,” Winn said. “Changing this ordinance will still comply with Utah State Law.”
City code previously allowed up to 16 children in a home-based day care, but was amended to eight, Aagard said. The proposed ordinance would restore the maximum number of children to 16, changing the definition of a commercial day care to be more than 16 children, while eliminating the residential designation.
“The reason why we want to change the commercial designation is if home-based day cares could have 16 children, anything more than that should be in a commercial location because you’re really getting into some traffic issues,” Aagard said.
There is currently a daycare in the city that operates with 16 children, with no issues or complaints the city is aware of, according to Aagard. It also shows it can be done in a neighborhood without traffic problems, he said.
Another change to the code would be to permit a non-resident employee for day cares, which is currently prohibited for home-based businesses. The non-resident employee restriction would remain in place for other home-based businesses.
Any home-based day care with less than eight children would be a permitted use, but those with between eight and 16 would require a conditional use permit approved by the planning commission. The requirements would also include a traffic plan, adequate parking and other considerations.
The total of 16 children would include any children of the licensee or employee if they’re under the care of their parents, according to Aagard.
“We feel that that would be a nice solution to the lack of licensed and appropriate day cares in Tooele City,” Aagard said. “It’d give day care providers a little more opportunity to have more of a day care at their home.”
City Councilman Dave McCall asked about square footage requirements for the homes if 16 children were permitted and Aagard said city staff would look into it.
The proposed ordinance will now go to the City’s planning commission for review and recommendation.