Renton day care slapped with code violation fees

The school’s owner asked the city to help them keep the their doors open after finding themselves in a code compliance conundrum.

A full-day day care that recently moved to Renton sought the city’s help after finding itself in a code compliance conundrum.

Newcastle Montessori Children’s House was relocated from Newcastle to the Renton Highlands last summer.

In July, the city’s code compliance staff issued a warning of violation for constructing a deck with a wheelchair ramp without a permit and failing to change the designation of the building from a single-family residential to day care center.

The city requires buildings to have a child care use designation if the facility has over 12 kids. Newcastle Montessori has 19 kids enrolled in the school.

The property owner was notified that building permit applications were required to be submitted within 14 calendar days of the violation notices. Owner of the school, Janell Stover, reportedly submitted a pre-application to the city within the required time.

Trouble came when city staff notified Stover during a meeting in September the building would require multiple accessibility improvements to comply with the International Building Codes and that a transportation impact fee of $53,713.95 was required with the change of occupancy.

The fee was an amount the school could not come up with, Stover told council members at the Jan. 8 meeting.

“We are going to have to close within the month if we don’t get this fee reduced or resolved,” she said.

Stover asked for the city’s help since the issue was hurting business. She had lost seven families due to the uncertain future of the school.

Six months after Stover submitted the pre-application, the city did not receive a building permit application. Code compliance staff issued the a $200 Finding of Violation fee. A month later, an Order to Correct was issued.

When the school first opned in Newcastle in 2011, Stover said the interest steadily grew and that the majority of her students came flocking from Renton. Last year, she decided to relocate to the Highlands.

Stover told the council the current site was marketed as a commercial lease and the property owner initially showed her documents indicating the land was zoned for commercial. The Department of Early Learning also inspected the site and gave Stover the thumbs up to start processing the license for a full-day child care center.

Upon signing the lease, Stover began renovating the interior and repairing the wheelchair ramp, unaware she needed a permit to fix the ramp and that the building was considered a single-family residence.

Soon after Stover appealed to the City Council for help, Community and Economic Development Department staff contacted Stover to resolve the issue.

Staff briefed the Planning and Development Committee on Jan. 11 regarding their progress and said Stover was working with the city to reach compliance. “We are not interested in punitive action,” said CED Administrator Chip Vincent at the meeting. “We simply want to bring their business into compliance. We’ve outlined the process and how we can get there together in a way that’s reasonable and makes sense to them.”

Vincent said the city was willing to waive the $200 violation fee if the tenant was willing to write a paragraph outlining their efforts they’re making to move the process along.

Stover is now working with a contractor to complete an independent transportation study to identify the full impact fee to determine if the originally estimated $53,713.95 should be applied to the school.