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Daycare changes approved

POSTED August 7, 2009 10:58 p.m.
The Turlock Planning Commission and local large family daycare providers reached common ground on Thursday evening as a compromise set of proposed regulations upon new large family daycares was approved.
Providers were concerned that the initially proposed rules would create a competitive advantage for small family daycares — those with less than eight children — which operate under a different set of state regulations. The City is barred from imposing restrictions on small family daycares.
The proposed city ordinance would allow inspections of large family daycares at any time during regular business hours and would require providers to pay business license taxes, which would amount to approximately $60 per year. Also, play areas would be required to be clearly delineated by fences, landscaping, or other materials constructed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and front yards could no longer be used as play areas.
In a concession to large family daycare providers, a rule that would have prevented new providers from opening up shop within a 300-foot radius of existing operators was instead changed to prevent new large family daycares within 300 feet on the same street.
Existing providers are exempt from these spacing requirements. New large family daycares will have the option to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to open regardless of location.
Additionally, a proposed regulation that would have required large family daycares to host three onsite parking spaces — possibly requiring the conversion of a garage play area into a functional garage — was denied. Instead, providers must now have two onsite spaces for workers and may make use of street parking for loading and unloading of children.
According to Planning Commission Chairman Mike Brem, the regulations are intended to ensure that large family daycares are consistent with the residential neighborhoods they inhabit while not discouraging providers from doing business.
The new restrictions upon large family daycares will now go before the Turlock City Council before becoming part of the Turlock Municipal Code.

Large Memorial Park sign approved
A new, 20-foot tall sign will soon sit alongside West Main Street and guide visitors to the Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home, following a Thursday Planning Commission decision.
The commission was unsure of the large, 46 square foot, internally illuminated sign when it was initially proposed on May 7.
Memorial Park staff stated the sign was necessary to notify funeral attendees that the entrance to the facility is located on Soderquist Avenue, despite the large frontage the park enjoys alongside West Main Street. While planning staff did not argue with the need for the sign, they did question the necessity for such a massive sign.
Upon further review — and with the aid of perspective drawings to illustrate the relative height and visibility of the sign — the commission decided that several unique factors necessitated the tall sign. As sign designers were forced to work around existing gravesites, easements, and a 12-foot tall wrought iron fence, a shorter or differently positioned sign would be unfeasible.
Commissioner Soraya Fregosi cast the lone vote against the project, fearing that approving such a large sign would set a precedent for other businesses.

Hawkeye Shopping Center to see larger sign
The new Hawkeye Shopping Center, located at the corner of Hawkeye Avenue and North Golden State Boulevard, will feature a 12-foot tall sign, one 8 feet taller than an initially approved 4-foot sign.
Similar to the Memorial Park sign decision, the Planning Commission approved a sign larger than otherwise preferred due to unique circumstances.
The zoning ordinance allows signs no higher than 20 feet, but the City of Turlock’s design guidelines recommend 4-foot tall signs along arterial streets. The Hawkeye Shopping Center was permitted for a 4-foot tall sign.
Architectural constraints require the sign to be positioned 100 feet from N. Golden State Boulevard, however, where traffic can travel in excess of 50 miles per hour. To ensure visibility — especially for tenants of the northernmost building of the shopping center, which has almost no visibility from the street — the commission found a need for a 12-foot tall sign.
The sign should be erected in six to eight weeks.

P & F Metals to expand, fix non-conforming buildings
A building which has been out of compliance with Turlock Municipal Code for more than 13 years will now be remodeled as a result of a Thursday Planning Commission decision.
P & F Metals occupies a house at 315 South Broadway that was converted into an office building in 1986, without the necessary building permits. A non-conforming storage building is also in use, situated behind the converted home and alongside an alley.
The new owner of P & F Metals elected to bring the main 1,960 square foot office building up to code while also constructing a new, 2,027 square foot office building behind the converted residence where the storage building once stood.
The commission commended the new owner in approving the project. City Attorney Phaedra Norton stated she is developing a new citation code to ensure such non-conforming buildings do not evade enforcement efforts in the future.

CVS monument sign approved at reduced height
The Planning Commission unanimously denied a requested 20-foot tall monument sign for the new CVS Pharmacy development under construction at the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road, instead approving a 13-foot sign.
CVS had requested the large sign at the June 4 Planning Commission meeting to notify drivers of the business and other tenants in the shopping center, especially those drivers traveling westbound on Monte Vista Avenue.
The developers argued a tall sign was needed due to berms, landscaping, decorative fencing, and utility easements which they said would reduce the visibility of a shorter sign. Plannning staff believed that the speed of traffic and unique design challenges did not necessitate such a large sign, especially considering the large wall signage CVS will install.
The commission agreed a larger than normal sign was needed, but expressed concerned that a large sign would dominate the intersection, drawing attention away from the California State University, Stanislaus, sign across the street. As a result, they elected to approve a sign that is no taller than the CSUS sign, at a height of 13 feet.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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