County votes No

Adult Day Care facilities not allowed in residential areas

Lazaro Aleman, ECB Publishing, Inc.

Following a brief public hearing on Thursday, Aug. 16, county officials decided not to amend the Land Development Code (LDC) to allow residential care facilities of six or fewer clients in land-use districts where family residences are allowed, in effect challenging the state.
The proposed amendment, Attorney Scott Shirley explained, would remove the existing prohibition on residential care facilities in land-use districts where family residences are allowed, so long as the former housed six or fewer clients. The amendment, Shirley said, would not apply to facilities of seven and more clients, which would still be excluded.
Shirley barely finishing reading the title of the proposed ordinance before three commissioners expressed their opposition to its adoption. The commissioners' concern, as Walker expressed it, was that allowing such facilities in residential areas would in effect commercialize the areas without the benefit of public hearings or public input.
The question also arose whether the particular applicant that had triggered the amendment's consideration couldn't be granted a special exception, thus limiting the allowance to the specific facility. That option, however, was not available, Shirley said.
“There is no mechanism under our current Land Development Code to give a special exception,” Shirley said.
That said, the board voted 4-1 not to amend the LDC, with Commissioner Gene Hall the exception. Seconds later, however, Hall appeared to reverse his vote, making for a unanimous decision.
The commissioners wanted to know what would be the likely repercussions of their action in terms of the state, given that state law allows residential care facilities in all land-uses where residential homes are allowed.
It depended, Shirley said, whether the state decided to push back on the county's decision.
“We don't know what position the state is going to take,” he said.
Should the state push back, however, there were other approaches that the county could possibly try, he suggested.
“Let's just wait and see,” Shirley said.
Only two members of the public spoke on the issue. The two, Corwin Padgett and Phil Calandra, both expressed support for the commissioners' decision.
Thursday's public hearing was a continuation of a July 19 hearing, when the issue first came up before the board as a recommendation for approval from the Jefferson County Planning Commission.
The proposed amendment, as Shirley then explained it, was to bring the county into compliance with Section 419.001(2) of Florida Statues.
“By statute, we have to allow it,” Shirley told commissioners of the care facilities, adding that if the commission denied the application, the action could arguably constitute a statutory violation.
He also explained at the time that by law, such facilities were licensed by the state and required to house two residents per bedroom maximum. The homeowner, however, did not not have to live in the house, he said.
The only other restriction that he was aware of with regard to the facilities was that one couldn't be within a thousand feet of another, Shirley said. He likened the facilities to adult daycare.