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Supervisors consider restricting sites for daycare centers

June 07, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors are taking steps to prohibit child care centers in multi-family homes, such as town houses.

The supervisors on Monday directed their solicitor to draft regulations limiting child care centers to single-family houses and standalone, commercial structures.

The move comes two weeks after the township zoning hearing board approved a Zullinger, Pa., woman's request to operate a day care center in her town house. Jennifer Albright, of Zana Court, was previously turned down by the supervisors for a conditional use in her zoning district.

While changed regulations wouldn't affect Albright's case, she said she feels the supervisors are hurting residents' ability to make a living. She also said small centers, like the one she wants to operate, benefit children because of one-on-one attention.

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"I think it's a lot easier on the kids," Albright said.

The zoning hearing board decided May 24 that Albright's center should be considered an allowable home occupation. It bypassed the supervisors' debate about whether "day care centers" in the township code referred to larger businesses or included in-home functions.

"They didn't say this isn't a day care center. They said, 'We're going to allow you to have an in-home day care as a home occupation,'" said John Lisko, solicitor for the supervisors.

The supervisors, who previously shared concerns about traffic and neighborhood appropriateness, said they will not appeal the zoning hearing board's ruling.

Instead, Supervisor Carroll Sturm suggested the township code be changed to not allow day care businesses in certain homes. Supervisor John Gorman said they could be allowed in single-family houses in R2 (medium-density residential) zones, as they already are in R1 (low-density residential) zones.

"You should look at the other zones and make sure we're consistent," Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

Supervisor Jeff Geesaman said all zones should include a provision that day cares be limited to six children, not including family members. He said that's the current rule for R1 zones.

Albright said she can't open her business because she has not yet received a permit from the township. Once she has that paper, she plans to contact the state for an in-home inspection as part of the licensing.

She expressed frustration with the five-month process in which she felt she got the run-around from township officials.

"All I want to do is do this legally," she said, saying the license process in her previous home state, Maryland, was rigorous, but clearer.

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