Tucker, GA — Tucker Planning Commission met on June 16 to discuss an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance on child care centers in DT (downtown) zoning districts and the NL (Northlake) district.
City staff proposed to allow childcare centers with seven children or more within a place of worship to be operated by an outside entity.
“Staff believes this proposed text amendment will provide a beneficial service to existing churches that are in the city, as well as the community as a whole,” said city planner Kylie Thomas.
Planning and Zoning Director Courtney Smith said the amendment “helps provide a service not only to the residents in the community of Tucker, but also helps benefit the church, which is an important element of our community.”
“Churches are struggling financially,” Smith said. “We have seen Rehoboth Baptist sell off half their property for townhomes.”
Community members and parents spoke at the meeting.
Beverly Hutchinson is a member at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, which is petitioning for the change. Eastminster’s preschool closed, and the building currently has an empty children’s center.
“Turning Sun Montessori came to us,” said Hutchinson. “[Elders] overwhelmingly approved to proceed with allowing Turning Sun to come into our church.”
Heather Adams, owner of Turning Sun, explained the benefit of using religious facilities. The preschool is secular.
“One of the biggest reasons is we don’t have to build a new building or purchase a large building. It helps a lot with our budget. We are one of the only preschools in the area who is able to pay a living wage to teachers and to offer benefits packages,” said Adams.
The proposed changes refer to Section 46-985 and 46-1035 of Tucker city code. Amendments would be limited to DT-2 and DT-3. City staff said the ordinance would not apply to DT-1 because it is mostly residential, nor NL because there are no places of worship in the Northlake district.
After some discussion, commission members were confused by the amendment’s restrictions.
“We will definitely go back and take a holistic look before the first read,” said Smith.
Planning Commission Chair Katherine Atteberry made a motion to recommend the amendment with a condition that city staff work to further define the text, and it passed 5-0. Commission members Karen Peters and Michael Thomas were absent.
The first read of the text amendment will come before City Council on June 27.
In other news:
– On May 19, Tucker Planning Commission recommended denial of the application to relocate Chick-fil-A to 4435 Hugh Howell Road, the former Greater Good BBQ location. Tucker City Council approved the SLUP and variances on June 13.
– Planning Commission recommended approval of an application to build 50 townhomes on Lawrenceville Highway at Bishop Drive. City Council passed the plan on June 13. The townhomes, constructed by Embry Development Company, will be on the south side of Lawrenceville Highway. A plan to build on the same spot was successfully halted in 2018 by neighbors, who remain worried about wildlife and trees.
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