Last night, I became a true member of our little town's society. We went to our first community meeting. It was a planning and zoning commission meeting. And, it was pretty interesting, to say the least!
On the agenda for the evening? Daycares. And the meeting started out like this:
There will be no name calling, mud slinging, or personal attacks. We are here to have adult conversation and that is all. This meeting is now in session.Seriously?! Apparently, they have been talking about this issue since around October of last year and the meetings have been getting pretty heated. Let me give you a little background about our little town. Hallsville is a town of about 1000 people that is starting to grow as Columbia, about 10 miles away, grows. We have a lot of retired homeowners who have been here for 30+ years. We also have a lot of young families moving in. With young families come children. With so many mothers needing to work to make ends meet, they are looking for inexpensive daycare options. There are also a few mothers who are watching other children in their home so they can stay home with their own children.
So here was the issue: We have one fairly large (20 kids) daycare in our area. However, there are two more families that are wanting to expand to watching 6-10 children in their homes also. They also happen to be back to back houses and just one street over from the larger daycare.
The way our zoning is set up, they would have to rezone their house for a multi-family home to be able to have a daycare. Many of the other homeowners (ourselves included) were opposed to this because of what could move in after the current owners. The other option it to zone it commercial with conditional uses, which would keep it from being used as anything else by the next owner. However, many of the homeowners are against this because of the increase in traffic, noise and changes in appearance.
There have been a lot of "driveway discussions" with petitions signed and emotions running high. Unfortunately, some things have been misrepresented and now a lot of people are up in arms about the situation and it has been blown out of proportion. I personally don't mind if they have a daycare in their homes as long as it continues to look "residential." I don't want their front yard paved in and things like that. While others don't share this opinion, I really have not noticed any changes from them keeping four children in their homes. Still, some people just don't want a daycare of any kind in the residential area, which I just think is silly!
We have not seen the last of the discussion about daycares in residential areas. The issue will come before the city council on March 23 for a vote. We are going to try to be there.