Ordinance would allow churches to operate day care centers in certain zoning districts

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By Bill Short
The Millington Municipal Planning Commission voted this week to recommend an ordinance that would allow churches in certain zoning districts to operate day care centers.
Commission members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Mike Caruthers and seconded by Leanna Dagen.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Brenda Barber and Mayor Terry Jones absent.
The proposed ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and first reading at the March 9 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
It would amend the Millington Zoning Ordinance to include the definition of a “church” as a building where individuals regularly assemble for religious worship that is maintained and controlled by a religious body organized to sustain public worship.
The definition would include a synagogue, temple, mosque, as well as all accessory buildings and uses customarily associated with that primary purpose.
A “storefront church” would be defined as a religious meeting place in a shopping center or other retail building.
The proposed ordinance would allow a church to operate a day care center as a “special exception” granted by the Millington Board of Zoning Appeals and the Site Plan approved by the commission in these zoning districts:
(1) Agricultural (A)
(2) Large Lot, Two-Family, Low-, Medium- and High-Density Residential (R-LL, R-3, R-0, R-1, R-2 and R-4)
(3) Neighborhood, General and Planned Commercial (B-1, B-2 and PC)
A church with a day care center would have to provide:
(1) A fenced area containing at least 50 square feet of play space for each child using the area at any one time. The play area would have to be at least 20 feet from any residential property lines and 50 feet from a street.
(2) At least a 4-foot-tall fence screened from adjacent residential uses by either vegetation or masonry.
(3) Connection to a public sewage disposal system where possible. If that is unavailable, the use of a private sewage disposal system would require approval of the local Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Ground Water Protection and satisfactory operation at all times.
(4) Adequate drives for queuing space, parking and pickup areas for the drop-off and pickup of children as determined by the commission.
(5) Compliance with the requirements of the Tennessee Department of Human Services and the Shelby County Health Department, as well as the city’s requirements.
(6) Operation of the day care center by the church or its legal subsidiary and not contracted out to an individual, group of individuals or a business.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, said the Zoning Ordinance currently allows day care centers in the B-1, B-2, and PC districts with Site Plan approval by the commission.
Storefront churches are currently permitted in B-1, B-2 and PC. Under the proposed ordinance, Goforth said, they could locate in a shopping center with commission approval of the Site Plan but would not need BZA approval.