RPC denial of daycare stands after appeal fails

County commissioners Tuesday denied an appeal for a child care facility in the upscale winery area. The applicant hinted she may pursue her next option, filing a lawsuit in District Court.

Kristine Miller-Anderson appealed a May 15 denial by the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission of her request for a conditional use permit for a child care facility at 3600 E. Vineyard Dr., along with a waiver of her requirement for a paved circular driveway. Anderson already has four children at her home, the maximum allowed without a permit, which would allow keeping up to 12 children.

Anderson, who said she was raised in a daycare her parents operated for 37 years in California, told the RPC her clients sign a 25-page contract. Among the conditions they agree to is not to drop children off at the curb. She said her child care facility met all the requirements, city and state fire certification. Children would only be allowed outside for one hour per day.

Nye County Principal Planner Steve Osborne told commissioners the RPC denied the application for not meeting three standard conditions of approval: it may be hazardous or disturbing to existing or future neighboring uses; wouldn’t be a substantial improvement to property in the immediate vicinity; and, the noise and increased traffic could be detrimental to the area.

Gail Keys, a next door neighbor, said “I bought that house 11 years ago. We bought it for peace and quiet. I already know my house will go down (in value) with a business next to it. Would any of you like to purchase my house with a daycare next to it? I’m 74 years old.”

She also expressed concerns over liability if a child ran on her property and got hurt.

“I didn’t buy up there to have businesses there. What are we going to have next, a beauty shop or a restaurant?” Keys said.

She added the conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) for the subdivision don’t allow any businesses.

Jack W. Frost, who lives on the street, said while the applicant stressed experience in the child care business, the preparations for investment and the needs for day care in the community, the law requires a circular driveway for the safe operation of a child care facility. Since Miller-Anderson can’t provide a circular driveway, Frost asked commissioners to deny the application.

Joseph Kelley said “It’s been disapproved by the planning and building commission, the CC&Rs don’t allow it and about 90 percent of your audience is from this area, none of them want it.”

Al Breitenbach read the requirements for a paved, circular driveway for child care facilities.

“I would say this is quite specific and detailed. Why? Because it’s so important to ensure the safety of the children. With this in mind, may I also remind commissioners during winter months when we don’t have daylight savings, picking up children may occur in the dark and without a circular drive it’s an accident waiting to happen,” Breitenbach said.

He added the fence around the outdoor play area didn’t appear to be high enough.

The facility would adversely affect the character of the existing neighborhood, in violation of county planning requirements, he said.

“One neighbor told me that if this child care center is approved they would consider selling their property,” Breitenbach said.

Commissioner Dan Schinhofen made the motion to deny the appeal despite a last pitch for approval.

“Basically we have a senior care facility down the street, nobody’s complained about that, maybe because they’re seniors not children. That’s an ongoing business, 24 hours a day they have services coming in,” said attorney Carl Joerger, who represents Miller-Anderson. “My client made everybody sign an agreement, you come in one way, you go out another.”

He said the county commission was being arbitrary and capricious in voting down his client’s permit, when an adult care center is down the street.

Osborne said child care facilities come under different regulations. District Attorney Brian Kunzi said the senior group home has to be treated no differently than a typical, single-family residence.

Kunzi repeated an email he sent to commissioners last week in which he said of the senior group home, “it has to be treated as a single-family residence. I don’t believe that could be a basis for treating this as an arbitrary and capricious decision because of that legal distinction.”

Joerger said his client has been living there with four kids for two and a half years and nobody’s complained. He added the state will come in and check everything before approving a child care license. There was no record of any CC&Rs on file when his client bought her home, Joerger said, in any event, Commission Chairman Butch Borasky said the county doesn’t enforce CC&Rs, that has to be done by a homeowners’ association.

“This is only adding another eight kids. As far as the noise, the kids are only allowed to be out one hour per day,” Joerger said. “If you have a dog that’s probably more noise than eight or 12 kids.”

Miller-Anderson said she wanted to advise her neighbors it’s possible to have a day care in a residential neighborhood, as long as they follow state standards, citing her mother’s 37-year business. If she has six or more children, she’s required to have an assistant under state law, she said.

Commissioner Donna Cox said she sympathized with seniors who live in the area who made a big investment in their property. She added the homes in that subdivision are close together, not on acre and a quarter lots. There would be added traffic.

“I have followed all the rules and regulations. My neighbors are actually keeping me from getting a state day care license. They’re waiting to come up and inspect my home,” Miller-Anderson said. “We’ve done what we can and if we have to pursue this, we will, because I am not done with this legally.”