Regulations for day care reconsidered

February 19, 1998


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - "Did we put anybody out of business?" Chambersburg Borough Councilman William McLaughlin asked after a Thursday night work session on a day-care ordinance.

The answer from more than 20 day-care providers at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting was "No."

Most of the provisions to which they objected were removed from the proposal that will be presented to the Council on March 5.

The original draft was the subject of a public hearing two weeks ago and would have limited day-care homes to single-family dwellings in residential areas. The commission decided to allow them in duplexes, but not in townhouses or apartments.


That was a big concession for Deborah Bass, a family day-care monitor for Learning Tree Child Care. She said Learning Tree contracts with four day-care homes in the borough and three are in duplexes.

The draft proposed 65 square feet of outdoor backyard play area for each child enrolled. The commission will recommend reducing that to 50 square feet.

The draft also called for that area to have a four-foot fence, but that requirement was dropped. Instead, state inspectors will determine if any of the more than 40 licensed day-care homes in the borough require fences.

A provision calling for one off-street parking spot for every six children enrolled was dropped. Another requiring dropoff and pickup areas that would not require children to cross traffic lanes was also eliminated.

"That child is not my responsibility until that parent delivers that child to my door," day-care home operator Laure Putt said before the provision was cut. Several others noted that providing dropoff areas on residential streets would be difficult.

Those who have three or fewer children in their care on any given day will not be affected by the new criteria. The state regards them as babysitters and therefore they are not regulated.

Under the regulations, day-care homes are those in which four to six children are being taken care of. The commission defined any operation with more than six children as a day-care group, which will not be allowed in residential areas.

If the council agrees to the changes in the draft proposal, a public hearing will be scheduled before it votes to adopt the ordinance.

All the day-care homes will still have to apply to the borough's Zoning Hearing Board for special exceptions to continue operating. McLaughlin said a deadline will be set, "but if it's unreasonable, we'll extend it."

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