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Residents make statement against in-home daycare rule changes
March sees turnout of about 10
BOC protest 2 IMG 6103
Protesters display their signs outside the meeting room of the Board of Commissioners work session.
County workers were treated to a colorful sight on the corner of Milstead and Main Street Monday morning. About 10 residents and homeowners stood outside the Assembly Hall early Monday morning before the Board of Commissioner's weekly work session, to protest potential changes to regulations on in-home daycare facilities.

The residents carried signs with the words "neighborhood traffic," "liability," and "insurance premiums" with arrows going up and down arrows with the words "property value."

Organizer Don Meyer, whose group, Homeowners for Better Government, initiated the event, said he was pleased with the turnout. The marching permit was for up to 18 people. "This is a good demonstration of the citizens of Rockdale expressing their concerns to the Board of Commissioners' decision to modify or remove the special use permit process for in-home daycares in Rockdale County," said Meyer. "We hope they understand our concerns and we hope they try to address them appropriately."

Resident Sam Smiley said, although he had not lived with an in-home daycare in his neighborhood, he came out because he didn't want the board to change the regulations. "The ordinance is in place for a reason. The people who want to do away with it want to go around the system," he said.

Currently, an in-home daycare facility, which takes care of six or fewer children, is required to apply for a special use permit application, which costs $400 and is treated like a re-zoning. It requires a public hearing with the Board of Commissioners and Planning Commission, which can take anywhere from 90 to 120 days.

An ordinance amendment has not been proposed before the board and was not on the agenda for Monday's work session, but a spokesperson had confirmed a potential amendment proposal had been in the works.

Meyer pointed out there were other issues the Board needed to focus on. "Our county has been without a finance director for over seven months. We have a human resources director missing in action, and we have other department heads as yet missing in action." he said.

"We need to work on the big issues. This is not one of the big issues right now."

(Later in the day after the meeting, the county announced it had narrowed the financial director search to two internal candidates: the current Deputy Finance Director Roselyn Miller and the current Financial Reporting Officer Linda Nabers.)

Inside the work session, a few residents and homeowners spoke about the in-home day care facility issue during the public comments section.

Paul Reneud of the Honeycreek Homeowner's Association, said "We opposed this a year ago. The same reasons are there today."  

Herbert Stone, representing the Arbor Glen Homeowner's Association, said he wanted to see the Board strengthen the ordinance, not weaken it.

"We bought into a residential entity and not a commercial entity," he said. "I think daycares should not be allowed, period."

In-home daycare owner and resident Josie Dean said the day-care operations the county should be targeting were the illegal operations. "We're trying to do it legally," she said.

She pointed out that she was just as concerned about the quality of life in her neighborhood as any other resident. "Just like y'all worried about me, I'm worried about you."

At the end of the work session, Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, who had previously expressed support for the idea of doing away with the special use permit, said he had received calls, emails and other feedback from constituents. "I am definitely reconsidering my position as we move forward."