By Nick Nunn staff writer

Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan presented proposed text amendments for the city of Madison concerning child-care and personal care facilities at the Morgan County Planning Commission’s work session on Friday, April 18. The city is proposing new definitions for the terms “family child-care homes,” “group child-care homes,” “personal care establishments,” and “personal care home” to reflect current state definitions of those terms. Family child-care homes would be facilities in private residences that provide for the care of no more than six children under the age of 18 for more than four hours per day, and group child-care homes would be facilities in private residences that provide for the care of seven to 18 children under the age of 18 for more than four hours per day.

Personal care establishments would be broadly construed by the city to include any type of facility that provides for the care and oversight of two or more persons more than 18 years old living together in “any form of group or congregate residency,” with the exception of nursing homes, emergency shelters, and personal care homes. Personal care homes are facilities in a private residence that provides for “protective care, oversight, and personal service” for two or more people over the age of 18 not related by blood or marriage and who are in need of “a watchful environment” but do not require chronic or convalescent care. Callahan said that the city will use definitions that broadly construe the meaning of certain care facilities in order to “cover any type of aggregate care” until staff is able to create more intricate definitions. According to the amendments, family child-care homes would be conditional in R, R1, R2, R3, and P2 zones and permitted in P1, C2, and C3 zones. Group child-care homes would be permitted in R6 and R8 zones and conditional in P2 zones. Child-care centers will not be allowed in any residential zones but would be permitted in P1, C2, and C3 zones.

The amendment would also make personal care homes conditional in R, R1, R6, R8, P2, and C2 zones and permitted in P1 zones. Personal care establishments would no longer be conditional in C1 and C3 zones. Additional minimum requirements would also be created by the amendment. Both family and group child-care homes would only be valid as long as the owner/occupant resides in the dwelling unit, the operation maintains a state license and a city license, the dwelling contain at least 2,500 square feet, with a minimum lot acreage of 1.0 acres for family child-care homes and 2.5 acres for group child-care homes. Family child-care homes will have to be farther than 2,500 feet from any other existing principal residences, and group child-care homes will have to be more than 5,000 feet from other existing residences. No more than one employee will be allowed for either type of child-care home, outdoor play will be limited to rear yards within a fully enclosed play area, a 10-foot vegetative buffer will be required for side and rear yards that abut other residential properties, and the loading and unloading, as well of the parking, of vehicles will take place on private property.

Personal care homes must maintain the proper state and city licenses, as well as being limited to dwellings including at least 2,500 square feet with a minimum lot acreage of two acres. They must also be at least 5,000 feet from any additional existing residences and have no more than one non-family employee. Callahan said that all of the proposed text amendment changes are a “first take” at clarifying the ordinance language, and that city staff would appreciate any input from the Planning Commission. Morgan County Planner Tara Cooner said that the county has recently been working on similar ordinances for Rutledge and that she would pass the language proposed for Rutledge’s ordinances on to Madison staff. Callahan also presented a text amendment for special purpose lighting in C4 zones, which would allow businesses, “whose primary function include fuel sales,” one LED internal illumination sign on-premises, providing that the content of the sign not change more than twice daily. Callahan said that the purpose is to allow fuel centers to display their fuel prices through LED lighting without permitting flashing signs. She added that the restriction on the number of content changes per day appeared “reasonable” but said that she was open to changes regarding that number.