Ashford Park residents in Brookhaven are raising concerns about traffic and quality-of-life impacts they say could result if zoning is approved to allow a daycare center on Clairmont Road near DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
The proposed development is set to go before the Brookhaven Planning Commission on Jan. 9. The Planning Commission deferred a vote on the proposed development in November.
Foundation Academy is proposing to build a two-story, 14,000-square-foot center serving up to 260 children at the corner of Clairmont Road and Bragg Street on the Chamblee border. The 1-acre property is currently zoned residential and office industrial and includes four single-family detached houses with two buildings operating as office space. Single-family homes are to the north and west of the proposed development.
“This is like trying to stick an 800-pound gorilla in a chicken coop,” said Joe Miller, who lives on Georgian Drive, at a Nov. 29 community meeting attended by a handful of residents.
Miller said the neighborhood is pedestrian friendly, especially for users of Georgian Hills Park. Putting in a high-use facility such as a daycare center could damage the desirability and character of the neighborhood, he said.
Foundation Academy representatives said staggered drop-off times, road improvements and a new brick wall would address many of the residents’ concerns.
The Christian-based daycare center is proposed for the corner of Clairmont Road and Bragg Street on the Chamblee border. The developer is seeking rezoning for 3702, 3708, 3712, and 3718 Clairmont Road to office industrial.
The proposed facility would stand two stories and comprise 14,000 square feet. The developer is asking for variances to reduce the required parking from 70 spaces to 46 spaces and to reduce the required buffer from 50 feet to 20 feet.
The main entrance would be from Bragg Street into the daycare center’s parking lot, a definite sticking point for the residents and homeowners living in the area. They say traffic would creep into the neighborhood streets as parents come to drop off and pick up their children and urged the developer find a way to put the main entrance on Clairmont Road.
Jason Smith, civil engineer for the project, said after talking with city staff, the consensus is that the entrance needs to be located on Bragg Street. He added there are talks to possibly put in a right-turn lane on Bragg Street to alleviate any potential backing up of traffic. “No parking” signs would be installed on Bragg Street, he said.Tim Burpee is the owner of Foundation Academy with other Georgia daycare centers in Warner Robins, Perry, Bonaire and Cornelia, and is the applicant seeking to open the new daycare center in Brookhaven. The Brookhaven daycare center would enroll up to 260 children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years.
Burpee said at the Nov. 29 meeting that children would be dropped off and picked up at different times of the day rather than at set times like a traditional school. Through staggered drop-off and pick-up times, the likelihood of traffic jams at the daycare center are reduced, he said.
Burpee also said there is higher demand for daycare for children between ages 5 and 7 and he expected not many would be 12 years old. He said he expected realistically the number of children enrolled would be in the 220 range. Tuition for infants would be about $400 a week, he said.
A basement play area is also proposed as part of the daycare as well as an outdoor playground. Burpee said there would not be 200 children on the playground at one time when asked about noise concerns.
Burpee said a brick wall, 6 to 8 feet high, with decorative posts would be built along one side of the development to provide a visible buffer between the daycare center and the residential neighborhood. Landscaping would be included around the entire facility.
The city would also require the developer to build a 10-foot-wide multiuse path along the property on Clairmont Road as part of the city’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan and sidewalk master plan.
Five existing trees are to be saved, according to site plans for the development. The city also requires a developer to plant in the parking lot one tree for every eight parking spaces, for a total of six trees if the variance for 47 spots is approved.