Dear Decaturish – Smarties Academy plan pushes non-residential development further north on ClairemontSmarties Academy is located in the Common Table church building. Photo by John Kiely.
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Smarties Academy’s recycling of the old Lutheran church property at 465 Clairemont Avenue in Decatur can readily been seen as highly positive. The building and spacious grounds are well maintained, and the joyful sounds of children at play fills our neighborhood on sunny afternoons.
But now the owner of Smarties wants to expand, proposing to double capacity, construct a second building, and increase parking. This surely cannot be done without significant land disturbance and reduction and/or total elimination of the lawn along Clairemont and Erie.
Doubling enrollment will mean greatly increased traffic using Erie, the only access to Smarties, and its intersection with Clairemont, every weekday morning and evening, plus that of parents and staff already driving to and from the elementary school just over the rise.
That Smarties’ owner desires to grow her business is understandable, but the limitations of the current site were obvious when she chose to locate there. Great Lakes is a residential community; allowing this expansion will alter the complexion of the neighborhood and encourage other attempts to push non-residential development further north on Clairemont.
Smarties has thus far been an asset to our community, making good use of an otherwise no longer needed property. But neighborhood and city leaders should be clear that bigger, in this case cannot be better—for the community or Decatur.
— Delmar Yoder
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