A number of home businesses will now be illegal under new zoning regulations approved by the Board of Commissioners which now bars day cares in residential districts and home occupation hair salons and barbershops.
Scott Sirotkin, senior planner with the Newton County Planning and Development Department said it was his understanding that those home day cares that already have the proper business licenses with the county and state will be grandfathered into the new ordinance and can keep operating.
Likewise home occupation hair salons and barberships that also have their business licenses with the county can apply for a conditional use permit to continue to operate. Sirotkin said the new ammendments were designed to prohibit new home occupation businesses.
At their Tuesday board meeting, the BOC unanimously approved the changes to the county's zoning ordinance though District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, at one point, tried to persuade his fellow commissioners to continue to allow daycare centers to be operated from private residences.
Newton County Planning and Development Department Director Marian Eisenberg said her staff originally brought forward the recommendation to require that no two-day care centers be located more than 500 feet from one another in a residential area to avoid clustering. The same distance is also now required for group homes and personal care homes.
Eisenberg said the recommendation to bar all daycares from residential districts except multi-family districts originated with District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming.
"When the board wants to do something, it's their policy. That was their request," Eisenberg said. "I tried to soften it a little bit but they were obviously adamant that they wanted this."
The new ruling applies to all day cares with three or more children, or any daycare that would require a business license to operate. The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Family and Children Services defines family day cares as private residences operated by persons that care for between three and six children. Day cares with more than six children are group day cares and must have a commercial day care license to operate.
At the recommendation of the Newton County Board of Health, the BOC voted to bar hair salons and barbershops from the list of permitted home occupations in the county to prevent damage to septic tanks as the result of "the enormous amount of water used and the chemicals" that are a byproduct of home hair care businesses.
According to the Planning and Development Department's list of businesses in the county, there are 14 day cares in the county with business licenses and 27 hair salons and barbershops with business licenses.
On Tuesday the BOC also voted to amend the county's Nuisance Abatement Ordinance to expand the county's ability to address not only buildings that constitute a public nuisance but also properties.
James Griffin, an attorney with County Attorney Tommy Craig's office told the BOC that they were only updating the ordinance to give the county all of the authority in dealing with nuisances that state law currently allows.
The new nuisance abatement procedures now allow the county to deal with not only structure control issues but also litter control and soil and erosion issues as well.
Tall grass and weeds that indicate long-term neglect or abandonment can be dealt with as can swimming pools that are not being properly maintained under the revised ordinance.
Griffin cautioned to add that the ordinance was not meant to deal with eyesores, saying "eyesores aren't necessarily nuisances."
Under the expanded ordinance, nuisance complaints for a property will be sent to a county inspector who will notify the property owner and whoever holds the mortgage to the property that they have 30 days to rectify the problem. If there is no response after that time then a petition will be filed with magistrate court and a notice of lis pendens (Latin for "suit pending") will be filed with Newton County Superior Court.
Eisenberg said the property owner and the bank can be notified by mail and do not have to be served in person.
According to Eisenberg, when banks typically learn that there is a lis pendens, they move to abate the nuisance rather than have a mark on the property title that would encumber the property if they want to sell it.