Lakeway day care owner denied special-use permit to operate business

Lakeway resident Bianca King was denied a special-use permit to operate her at-home day care on Vanguard Street during the Jan. 17 Lakeway City Council meeting.

The council was split in its decision, with Mayor Pro Tem Gretchen Vance and council members Jennifer Szimanski, Kelly Brynteson and Keith Trecker voting against the special-use permit, while Mayor Thomas Kilgore and council members Sanjeev Kumar and Louis Mastrangelo voted in favor of the request.

“This is obviously disappointing,” King told Community Impact. “We’ve been fighting for this for a long time. We’ve had a consistent message, and we were hoping for a different outcome.”

King, who sued the city after she was denied a permit for operation and ordered to shut down her day care operation last February, has appeared before council repeatedly to get her home care ordinance approved.

The permit was originally denied on the grounds that it violated two of the 19 at-home business rules listed in the city’s home occupation ordinance, which outlines rules a business must follow to receive a permit for operation.

A new subsection for the home occupation ordinance specific to at-home child care was approved during the Lakeway City Council special session Aug.1.

During the Jan. 17 meeting, Erin Carr, director of building and development services, told council Lakeway’s zoning and planning commission had recommended approval of King’s request to operate an at-home business with a maximum of six children under the age of 5 along with an additional five children over the age of 5 during after-school hours. The zoning and planning commission also recommended approval of a part-time worker to assist King.

“My registered home was inspected Nov. 1, 2021, by state child care licensing and again with another unannounced visit by state child care licensing on Nov. 28, 2022,” King told council. “The inspections found zero problems with my business and resulted in a perfect score.”

Several council members said they were concerned King was asking for more than she originally applied for.

During previous City Council meetings, King clarified that she would be caring for up to six children, including her own.

“At that time [of the previous meeting] we were talking about [only] six children. We were talking about no employee, and I feel like every time we come back for a bite of the apple with this applicant it gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” Vance said. “It’s exactly the opposite of what I wanted.”

King told Community Impact she has always asked for the same thing—a state-registered day care, which, according to Texas Health and Human Services, allows up to but no more than 12 children in a day care at any one time, including children related to the caregiver.

“I was just clarifying for council what the state allows,” King said. “It’s unlikely I would ever have that many children in my residence at one time.”

Several community members said they were also opposed to King operating her at-home day care.

“I wanted to like the proposal; I really did,” Lakeway resident Nina Davis said. “But this business is just too much for this residential neighborhood.”

Resident Jennifer Fleck said she opposed the special-use permit, or any exception to it, because it could open the door to further exceptions for expanded home businesses.

Kilgore said he was not opposed to the business and suggested council grant a special-use permit for a shorter period of time, so they could see what the complaints were.

After her special-use permit was denied, King told Community Impact she would be consulting with her lawyers about next steps.

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