Planners delay decision on day-care center |

Planners delay decision on day-care center

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer
Four-year-old Liam Shaffer catches up on his rest at Little Tikes daycare on Roop St. Wednesday afternoon. The duct tape holding together the seams of the carpet (upper left) and various other structural issues have left the daycare operators looking to the owner of the building to take care of them. photo by Rick Gunn

Operators of a Roop Street day care will have to wait another month to find out if they have a new place to call home.

With children from Little Tykes squirming in their seats and parents muttering in agreement, Carson City planning commissioners gave the owner of the day-care building until May 29 to convince them he deserves to keep a permit which allows him to host the facility at 2109 S. Roop St.

In a 6-1 vote, commissioners determined property owner Ronald Gutzman had not adequately tried to remedy long-standing problems with the facility from torn carpet and a broken fence to chipped paint and well water.

Little Tykes Director Carrie Henson has operated a day care, which can serve up to 30 children, at the site since 1996. She charges she has repeatedly asked for chronic problems to be fixed to no avail, and the facility has become a safety hazard. She said she has looked for a relocation site for three years, but with no suitable location available, she asked for a permit to turn her home just down Roop Street into a day care. However, a city rule bars day care facilities from being within 500 feet of each other, and Henson’s home is within 500 feet of her current location.

Gutzman has an old form of a special use permit that follows a business, not the operator, and therefore, could market his property as a day care as long as he maintains his 11-year-old permit. Environmental health officials monitoring the facility say while Gutzman in the last month has fixed some of the problems to an “acceptable level,” those fixes are temporary and are not entirely suitable. Tears in the orange carpet are covered with duct tape, the facility relies on well water from a well that is apparently not legal, a fence on the property blows over in strong winds and Environmental Health Director Daren Winkelman said he wasn’t satisfied with an attempt at a paint job to fix a decaying back wall.

Gutzman said he has tried to address the issues, but maintains the lease between he and Henson requires her to do some maintenance. Commissioners decided Gutzman should not be allowed more temporary fixes and Gutzman will have through May to address the issues at the day care or risk losing his permit.

Henson pleaded with commissioners not to allow Gutzman more time to fix the facility. She said Gutzman will not re-lease the facility to her in November, and she needs to move her business.

“We’re being kept in limbo,” Henson said. “This is not fair to my business. Please help. These are our kids.”

Commissioners delayed acting on Henson’s request for a permit, which city staff had recommended to deny because of the space issue.

Commission Chairman Al Christianson cast the only vote in Gutzman’s favor, saying he had attempted to work out issues surrounding the well, which was of greatest concerned to health officials and commissioners, and said Gutzman deserved another month to try to work on the facility.

Other commissioners argued the site is a liability with which they don’t want to be associated.

“(Gutzman has) a cavalier attitude toward abatement,” Commissioner John Peery said.

Despite the promising step, Little Tykes Assistant Director Kim Kuhlman said the decision was “frustrating.”

“It puts all of our lives in limbo,” she said. “Where are we going to go?”

Gutzman said while he sees where planning commissioners are coming from, he can’t tell his whole story.

“We’ll just have to fight this step by step,” he said.