In the Azalea City, a debate is brewing over group day cares in residential areas. The city council amended its ordinance to provide a balance between providing residential day care options and neighborhood protection. A year ago, the city council made changes to a city ordinance allowing day care centers with less than six children to operate in residential areas, but recently the city has received numerous requests for larger day cares facilities in residential districts.
There are over 100 day care providers in Valdosta and Lowndes County. Most are located in residential districts some neighbors are unhappy about the situation.
"Depending on the issues that are being kept, there's issues concerning traffic, there's issues not the normal flow of traffic, noise, just in compatibility where that is, nuisance, and that is what we have to look at," says Carmela Carter, zoning official.
After tabling the issue for months, the Valdosta city council unanimously adopted new rules on day care centers in residential areas. Smaller day cares with six children or less are allowed by special exception in residential zoning districts. Larger centers are also eligible if they're located on one of the city's busier streets, but any day care for 19 or more children is a considered commercial.
"Day cares are catered to neighborhoods and for a local provider, where as they don't see it as a commercial venture, we look at it because it is, it's out of the norm of residential living," says Carter.
The new rules requires day cares to have circular drive ways and adequate parking around the facility in order to not affect the flow of traffic in neighborhoods. The circular driveway was added to the ordinance to make sure that there will be no loading and unloading on the residential streets. The new rule does not apply to already operational day cares, this would just affect those who are requesting to start one with a high volume of children, and if it's not adhered to, the zoning department will handle the violators.