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Posted: December 27, 2008 9:25 p.m.

County to revisit daycare ordinance

Pre-existing daycares grandfathered in

The Newton County Board of Commissioners may be revising an ordinance that bans any new daycares in residential districts after outgoing District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming requested the board revisit the matter.

At the board meeting last Tuesday, Fleming, who originally requested that the language be added to the ordinance that bans daycares in residential districts, said he thought he was wrong to come down so strictly on all daycares.

"I probably erred when I did that," Fleming said.

Fleming said his intent was not to penalize the smaller size home daycares that care for three or four children, but to keep the larger daycares with 12-15 children out of suburban neighborhoods.

Under the ordinance as it exists now, all pre-existing daycares in residential districts caring for three or more children that were in full compliance of all state and county rules before the ordinance was amended were grandfathered in. The ordinance affects only business applications to open new daycares in the county.

The state does not require a daycare license if you are only caring for one or two children. Family daycares are defined as daycares operated out of private residences that care for between three and six children.

Scott Sirotkin, senior planner for the Newton County Planning and Development Department, said his department will probably confer with Chairman-elect Kathy Morgan once she takes office on how she wants to proceed regarding the daycare ordinance.

"There will be some options if [the BOC] want us to bring it very quickly as a stand-alone amendment," Sirotkin said of proposed changes allowing new home daycares back into residential districts. "We could wait until the next amendment package. It’s really up to the board to tell us how they want to handle it. We could have that ready for the board within a couple of months if that’s what they want to do."

When the daycare ordinance was first amended towards the end of November, Sirotkin said his department received a number of calls from daycare owners who were concerned that the ordinance was going to force them to shut their doors.

"I don’t know that we’ve had that many calls from folks seeking to open up new operations," he said.

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