The Lakeway City Council amended its home occupation ordinance at its June 21 meeting but will look into adding a subsection to the ordinance specifically relating to home daycares at its July meeting.

This follows a monthslong administrative and legal battle with local daycare owner Bianca King.

King operates a state-registered at-home daycare out of her Lakeway home. She can care for up to four preschool children in addition to two of her own, ages 2 and 4, according to the court document. She opened her business in January 2021 to support herself after she was laid off during the pandemic.

Several of the rules for at-home businesses were clarified by council during a discussion. One was to define the term nuisance to align with state law. According to state law, nuisance is defined as “condition that substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by causing unreasonable discomfort or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities attempting to use and enjoy it.”

“It’s a nuisance to me to have somebody move in and do what they want,” said Beverly Banfield, a neighbor of King. “Please make sure ... try to keep us in mind that we have to put up with the traffic. And if it’s this business then what about if it’s something someone else doesn't want in their neighborhood?”

King also requested council revisit allowing for an independent contractor to work in the home at the same time as the primary home worker. She also asked that council look at the rule which would not allow for outside storage or display related to the home occupation, since a playscape related to her business is in her yard.

“It is difficult for me to reasonably comply with the ordinance as it does not allow for any storage or display related to home occupation,” King said. “I do have my toys and playscape in the backyard and would be forced to remove them. I suggest that you add that items which are innocuous and suitable for a residential area be allowed.”

King’s lawyer, Erica Smith with the Institute for Justice, said she thought the draft of the home occupation ordinance was much improved after last month’s meeting where council made revisions.

“(King’s) neighbors are overwhelmingly supportive of her business, others had no idea she was running a home business, because she has always been respectful of her neighbors and that will continue,” she said.

Directly behind King’s home is the eighth hole of the Live Oak golf course at the Hills of Lakeway Country Club. After the city received a complaint about King’s business, she was contacted by the city in August and informed she needed an additional permit to continue its operation, according to the court document.

King went through a commission hearing in November in which she was denied her permit for the first time. After appealing the decision to the board of adjustment, King was denied again in February, shortly after which she filed a lawsuit against the city to keep her business open.

The city and law firm reached an agreement in early March, allowing King to operate her business while the lawsuit proceeds, Lakeway Director of Communications Jarrod Wise said.

King will have the opportunity to reapply for a home occupation permit once the city adopts the revised ordinance, according to the city.

King sued the city after she was denied a necessary permit for operation and ordered to shut down her day care operation in February. The permit was 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 in order to receive a permit for operation.

The lawsuit with King prompted the city to review its existing ordinances. On April 6, zoning and planning commission members viewed a preliminary version of the updated ordinance, which corrected many of the major flaws of the original code and removed some rules entirely.

Of the 19 rules, nine were removed; three were altered substantially; four were clarified; and three were not altered.