Those operating home day cares in Friendswood were all set to get an unfriendly letter from the city when leaders paused to talk it over.
Drafted by the city attorney, the “cease and desist type letter,” written for those with a state license operating a home day care within the city, had been written but not sent when the Planning and Zoning Commission met with City Council last week.
The city states there are nine homes registered as day cares with the state, but while they hold a license to operate, local ordinances don’t allow them within city limits, Friendswood staff member Nick Haby explained to council Sept. 9.
“We as a staff put two and two together and realized that, No. 1, the city’s fire marshal is asked to go out and inspect these homes before they can get the state license. We realized this use is not even allowed in the first place in residential,” he said.
But before pulling the trigger, staff brought the issue before the zoning commission and the council.
“We have no problem with changing it, but we’re just simply trying to enforce what’s written right now,” he said.
The city has received one complaint call regarding home day cares in the city, he said.
“I think we should probably suspend our current ordinance against this until I have more information,” Councilman John Scott said. “Around how many of these are there? What’s the impact on the neighborhoods they’re in? Obviously, the state allows them and the state regulates them.”
Councilman Billy Enochs agreed, adding a solid point. “We don’t want people skirting the process just to get out of a permit,” he said. “The state seems to have a good process and we want to ensure people are following the process the state puts in place. The last thing we want is for 15 kids to be in a house that catches on fire because they didn’t follow fire code rules because they didn’t apply for the permit that would prompt the fire inspections.”
Planning and Zoning is currently going through its permitted use table, Haby said, and this is one issue that it could determine.
“We do have a letter, that doesn’t mean we need to send it out,” he said. The council ultimately decided that the question of allowing home day cares, but not regulating them over what the state defines, should be looked at by Planning and Zoning.