City Council unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown that revises the zoning code as related to childcare in residential properties.
The bill will allow for the expansion of family childcare in homes through a special exception process as opposed to a variance. Currently, the burden of proof lies on the applicant to prove there is no other feasible use for the property. Even absent community opposition, a variance is unlikely to be granted.
“Childcare for up to 12 children is an appropriate residential use as long as there is strong community support. We cannot expect working families and childcare providers to jump through the significant hoops presented by our zoning code,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “We absolutely need protections in place for children and for communities—but they need to be reasonable and the exceptions have to be attainable.”
The special exception process is “variance light.” The special exception will still require a high burden of proof, however, if community support is demonstrated, the Zoning Board will have discretion to grant a special exception, which is not possible in the current code.
For additional information please contact the Chief of Staff, David Forde at (215) 686-3438.