Parent’s options may dwindle as new laws could lead to fewer Virginia daycare centers

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-02 09:06:31-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Joni Roberts has run a 24-hour daycare service in her Chesterfield home for 17 years. That service however could soon end thanks to a change in Virginia law.

Roberts currently serves on average 12 children, many of whom are sons and daughters of area first responders.

Virginia law now requires in-home daycare centers to not only get approval from the state, but also from the county if they want certification.

That is where Roberts is encountering issues.

According to Roberts, the Chesterfield County Planning Department wants the opinion of the Brandermill Community Association before giving Roberts her permit. The association will vote on Monday, January 6.

"I wish this hadn't come to this," Roberts said.

Roberts said most indicators point in the direction of the Brandermill Board of Directors denying her request.

She said it's because of rules established in the Brandermill covenants - that state in-home businesses cannot be established if they create traffic congestion.

While the Chesterfield Planning Department and Board of Supervisors could still grant Roberts request if Brandermill denies it, Roberts said that is unlikely.

A statement issued by John S. Bailey, the Brandermill Community Manager, reads:

"The BCA Board of Directors will be voting on Mrs. Roberts request for support of her zoning permit application at its January 6th meeting.

The Board has been doing their due diligence with regard to this issue, and it should be noted that this same request was previously reviewed by the BCA Board of Directors in 2003.  At that time, the Board voted 6-0-1 to deny Mrs. Roberts request.  The basis for that decision was that such business activity was in violation of the Restrictive Covenants, Section 2(a).  It reads:  'All lots in said Residential Areas shall be used for residential purposes exclusively.  The use of a portion of a dwelling on a lot as an office by the owner or tenant thereof shall be considered a residential use if such use does not create customer or client traffic to and from the lot.'

The current Board heard directly from Mrs. Roberts at their December 2nd meeting – receiving a presentation by Mrs. Roberts and hearing testimony from some of her neighbors as well as clients.

The Board has asked that legal counsel provide them with an opinion on the subject and the Board is waiting for that guidance before they finalize their views on the matter.

The BCA expects to receive that opinion in the next couple of days and then the Board should be ready to make a decision on Monday."

If denied her request, Roberts could still operate her facility and face fines or she could reduce the number of children she cares for to five - a limit in which  permits are not needed.