Wellington Zoners Drop Adult Daycare Outdoor Space Rule

Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board recommended approval Wednesday of amendments to the village’s land development regulations eliminating a requirement for open-air activity space at adult daycare facilities.

The amendments were precipitated by an application by St. Michael Lutheran Church, located at 1925 Birkdale Drive, to host an Alzheimer’s Community Care program. That program was recommended for approval by the board in January with a requirement for more adult open space than is required by regulatory healthcare agencies.

Kelly Fariello with the Planning & Zoning Department said that Wellington’s land development regulations currently require that adult daycare centers provide a minimum of 1,500 square feet or 100 square feet per person, whichever is greater, of outdoor activity area.

“The Agency for Healthcare Administration, also known as AHCA, which is the licensing agency for adult daycare facilities, as well as the Palm Beach County Health Department, provide standards and requirements for adult daycare centers,” Fariello said. “Currently, there are no outdoor activity area requirements for adult daycare centers set by AHCA or the Palm Beach County Health Department.”

She pointed out that the village’s requirement for outdoor activity areas currently provided in the land development regulations is much more restrictive than the licensing agency requires and may add an unnecessary burden to the owner-operator of this type of service.

The outdoor activity area requirement was included in the adoption of the land development regulations in 1999, which was consistent with the county’s unified land development code at the time, she said.

“A recent applicant of an adult daycare center made [us] aware that Wellington’s LDRs for adult daycare centers are not consistent with Palm Beach County code, as they recently eliminated the outdoor activity requirement,” Fariello said.

Regulations for child daycare centers listed in the same section will not be eliminated, she said, adding that owners of adult daycare centers still have the option of including outdoor activity areas.

As discussed at the PZA’s January meeting, if the council approves the change, the site plan requirement for additional space at St. Michael will no longer be required. She also pointed out that St. Michael previously had plans for two adult outdoor activity areas and is keeping one of them that is contiguous to the church.

Board Member Elizabeth Mariaca said she felt it was important that Wellington’s code match Palm Beach County’s, but was concerned that adult daycare facilities provide adequate outdoor space. “That’s my general observation and hope for the facility,” Mariaca said.

Fariello said that St. Michael is providing one outdoor space for adults and another for the children’s daycare that already exists, and that only a section across the parking lot from the church had been eliminated.

Planning & Zoning Director David Flinchum said the eliminated parcel will remain grass.

“It’s right next to their fellowship hall,” Flinchum said. “To be considered a daycare component for adults or children, it would have to be fenced and landscaped.”

The motion carried 4-0.

The facility has a proposed schedule of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for up to 45 participants. The program will have a ratio of five participants to one employee.

In other business, Board Member George Unger commented that in light of last week’s Wellington Village Council meeting regarding the K-Park parcel, which had residents overflowing to the halls and got unruly despite the presence of several deputies, he would like the option of having deputies at PZA meetings if similar issues should come before the board.

“If anything comes before us like that, and I imagine it might — that parcel — then I would like to have a police officer here and have some kind of understanding that he will enforce kicking people out who are disruptive, because that was embarrassing,” Unger said. “We don’t have a police officer here as standard procedure.”

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said she was sure they could make arrangements to have a deputy if K-Park or a similar issue comes before them.

“The direction from the council was to have some public forums, and those will certainly be attended by the PBSO,” Cohen said. “If there’s any particular application that comes through your committee, then we can address it at that time.”