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West Lafayette, Lafayette sign off on expansion of list of medical professions that can operate a home clinic

Eric Burns discusses the ordinance Monday night (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

West Lafayette and Lafayette Monday approved a change to a county zoning ordinance that will allow more medical professionals to operate a small clinic out of their homes.

Under the county’s previous zoning regulation, prohibited businesses included “any medical or dental clinic, office or hospital.” Other “residential businesses” - such as a one-chair hair salon – were considered allowable.

The Area Plan Commission of Tippecanoe County passed a motion to approve the change in March and called on the county, West Lafayette and Lafayette to follow suit. On Monday, both the West Lafayette and Lafayette city councils signed off on the change.

Eric Burns, corporation counsel for West Lafayette, said over the years the city has been asked to expand the number of allowable residential businesses. During the pandemic, the number of those requests increased.

“When we had COVID hit us there were people that wanted to continue to work, and if they only could have that one room they could continue to work. Because you can’t do everything virtually,” he said. “I think that’s what prompted it.”

Under the change, people able to run residential businesses will include all state-licensed medical professionals so long as they have no more than one treatment room.

“It doesn’t make any sense to limit to some and not to others,” said Burns. “The other thing is that it’ll be easier to modify if some new healthcare speciality gets approved by the state – then they’ll just say whatever is on the state list is what we’ll allow.”

According to city officials, the list of professions impacted by the change includes physical therapists, telehealth workers, midwives, and dietitians.

Correction: A previous version of this story identified this change as being specific to West Lafayette – it is a Tippecanoe County ordinance amendment that the cities of West Lafayette and Lafayette have subsequently approved.