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Hearing to discuss childcare by-law change

Date: 3/19/2012

March 19, 2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — A proposed by-law change would increase the number of children allowed at a residential childcare facility.

A public hearing will be hosted by the planning board on March 27 at 6 p.m. to discuss a change in the current by-laws which allow a child care center located in a home to supervise no more than six children.

The by-law change is among the articles anticipated to be a part of the warrant for the 2012 Annual Town Meeting. According to state law, a public hearing must precede any vote regarding changes to a by-law.

"Right now the by-law states that these day cares can only have six kids," Planning Director Robyn Macdonald told Reminder Publications. "It also says the operator of the business can only be the person who lives in the home with no employees."

The by-law change which was petitioned and presented to the Board of Selectmen by Jane Rivera, who runs a childcare center and represents a small group childcare providers in town, would bump the number of children allowed on site from six to 10, which would also force a change in the employment aspects of the by-law.

"The state requires that a large family daycare must have one approved assistant when the total of students exceeds six," Macdonald explained.

The proposal also aims to take away the need for a special permit in order to run a residential childcare business, making it a by-right use of property.

Rivera originally presented the by-law to the Board of Selectmen to be included in the warrant for the Sept. 26, 2011 Special Town Meeting, but the by-law never made its way from the Board of Selectman's office to the Planning Department's office, according to Macdonald, and therefore a public hearing never took place.

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