Vague wording in Seneca ordinance causes confusion 9.02.09

Written by David Green.

Some vague wording is contributing to a problem for a Seneca Township resident and her child care business.

Dayna Cordts applied in September 2008 for a special use permit to open a child care facility at her new home on Weston Road. The permit included a requirement to enclose an area of at least 5,000 square feet inside a fence, as listed in the township ordinance.

The fence wasn’t erected by June 1, the deadline set, but Cordts pointed out two problems with the requirement. First, the word “fence” is never used in reference to child care centers. The requirement is for an area to be “screened” from adjacent lots. In other areas of the ordinance book, the word “fence” is used, but not for child care facilities.

She also told the planning commission that her facility is classified as a day care group home (for seven to 12 children) and the ordinance applies only to nursery schools, day nurseries and child care centers.

Since her permit was voided, Cordts applied again and on Aug. 3 commissioners  voted 5-0 to grant another one. Cordts said she thought the issue was settled and she was surprised to learn later that she must either comply with the fence requirement or she would be reported to the state licensing authorities.

“I thought they were done with me,” Cordts said. “I wasn’t aware that I was going to be discussed at the meeting. I did things their way [paying $250 to apply for another permit], but then seven days later it wasn’t good enough.”

Planning commission chair Bob Walton said he wasn’t aware that the second permit would require a fence. He also acknowledged that the ordinance needs some attention. When the zoning rules were written in the 1970s, home day care centers didn’t exist. He said the wording should be updated.

Township supervisor John Gould said the Cordts issue wasn’t on the agenda, but the township attorney was at the meeting and offered to address any concerns. He was asked about the fence issue and he advised speaking with state authorities if compliance wasn’t reached.

Cordts wishes she had been at the meeting to explain her position and she intends to address the township board at the Sept. 14 meeting.

At this point, she’s concerned parents might think her day care will be shut down, but that isn’t the case, she said.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016