An existing daycare in the City of Howell has been granted a special land use permit that will allow the owners to care for more children.

Bill and Karen Edwards currently have a home daycare licensed by the state for 6 children, at their residence located on McPherson. Last week the couple was before the Howell Planning Commission with a request for a special land use permit which would allow them to increase the number of children under their watch to 12.

The home already met many of the standards that would be required for the permit, as laid out in a letter to commissioners by Community Development Coordinator Timothy Schmitt. City staff does not believe it will change the existing character of the neighborhood, there is more than enough required space for a play area, and the hours of operation would fall in line with normal daytime working hours.

Staff, however, did receive one letter from a neighbor expressing concern with the noise that more children might bring. The residence is surrounded by a 4-foot high chain link fence. Schmitt’s memo to the commission suggested that officials might want to discuss having the applicant change the fence to one that is 6 feet tall and opaque. Commissioner Mary Vukonich said she didn’t believe that would help with noise, to the agreeance of others. The Edwards’ said that they hadn’t heard any complaints about the noise until that letter, with both expressing a desire to work with neighbors.

Chairman Paul Streng said this was part of the tightrope they walk, working with petitioners while trying to protect concerned residents. Mayor Nick Proctor said that the City wasn’t going to mandate a new fence, but that he still suggests they work with the neighbor. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the special land use permit request. (MK)