During their meeting on Tuesday, the Cortez planning and zoning commission discussed a possible change to the land use code that would allow a day care in the Industrial Park.
Osprey Packs, which currently has a headquarters on Progress Circle in the Industrial Park, requested an amendment to the city code in order to provide on-site child care for some of their employees. Although the board made it clear they supported the idea of child care for employees with children, several members didn’t believe the park was the right place for it. They voted to ask the city planning staff to draft an amendment to the code for review, as long as it met some specific guidelines.
City Planner Tracie Hughes recommended the change to the land use code, but said it should specify that child care facilities are allowed only with a conditional use permit, and only as an accessory to an activity already permitted in the park. She also noted that, because the city is in the process of changing the land use code, any change made to the current version would be “something quick and dirty” to use as a temporary solution until the new rules are in place.
Lisa Bunker, the facilities manager for Osprey Packs, said daycare is becoming an urgent need for the company.
“We have a lot of very young families that are working, sometimes both parents are working at Osprey,” she said. “We actually are at risk of losing some of our team members because of a lack of day care here in the Cortez area.”
She said Osprey wants to follow the example of several other large companies across the country by providing its own child care to employees.
Several members of the board voiced their support of that goal. Chairman Danny Giannone said he could sympathize, since he also has small children.
“It’s a nightmare trying to get child care,” he said. “And I know that there are a lot of companies that are going toward this option, of offering in-house child care. I’m not totally convinced that the industrial zone is the proper setting for that.”
Board member Tim Kline disagreed, saying he would support the change as long as it specified the facility would only be allowed under a conditional use permit. But most of the board questioned language in the request that seemed to include the possibility the day care facility could be opened to the public as well as Industrial Park employees.
Board member Rebecca Levy said any amendment would have to specify that the facility would only be used as an “accessory” to companies whose activities are already allowed in the Industrial Park. The rest of the board agreed.
Also on the board’s Tuesday agenda was a public hearing, in which they voted to approve a conditional use permit to establish a single family residence on 638 State St., which was formerly a salon. Hughes also introduced two new employees in the Planning and Building Department, Chris Curry and Cheryl Lindquist.