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Pa. day-care hearing scheduled

March 12, 1998

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - New day-care regulations limiting providers to a maximum of six children or adults during a 24-hour period will be the subject of an April 8 public hearing by the Chambersburg Borough Council.

On Wednesday night, council members got caught up in a numbers game of how many children or adults a day-care home could handle in one day.

One proposal stated day-care homes could care for no more than six children or adults during a 24-hour period. Councilman John Redding objected, saying that another proposal defined a day-care home as providing care for four to six people.

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Redding said under one interpretation, a day-care home could take in six kindergarten students in the morning and then be prohibited from taking in any more the rest of the day.

"If we do that, I think we're over-regulating," Redding said.

"We're telling them they can only keep six," Councilman William McLaughlin said. He said homes could operate 24 hours a day without the restriction.

"What we're doing is backing down. Now we're saying, 'Let them have six or 12 or 18'" during a day, said Council President Bernard Washabaugh.

"No we're not," said Redding. He said the regulations would limit day-care homes to six children or adults on the premises at any one time.

An amendment to the zoning ordinance passed by the council contains the stricter limitation of six people at a day-care home over 24 hours.

The day-care criteria have been the subject of several meetings in recent weeks. Last month at a work session of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a number of the proposed regulations were softened.

The commission decided to recommend to the council that day-care homes be allowed in duplexes as well as single-family dwellings, and the amount of required outdoor play area be reduced from 65 square feet per child to 50 square feet.

There are about 40 day-care providers in Chambersburg. Those who take care of three or fewer children during a 24-hour period are regarded as babysitters and not subject to regulation.

Those taking care of four to six children or adults are regarded as day-care homes and are allowed in residential areas under a special exception to the zoning ordinance.

Businesses taking care of seven of more people during a day are defined as day-care centers and are prohibited in residential areas.

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