Decatur Planning Commission defers vote on Smarties Academy proposalSmarties Academy Founder Bogna Kabat requested the Planning Commission defer a vote on plans to increase enrollment and expand operations. Photo by Angela Walker
By Angela Walker, contributor
Decatur, GA — The Decatur Planning Commission, at its April 11 meeting, unanimously agreed to defer a vote on expanding enrollment at Smarties Academy, a daycare located at 465 Clairemont Avenue.
The vote may occur at the planning commission’s next meeting on May 9. Bogumila Kabat, the owner of Smarties Academy, requested an amendment to a previously approved conditional use permit to increase the daycare enrollment and an amendment to a previously approved comprehensive site development plan to expand operations.
Kabat spoke during the meeting to request that the commission defer the vote based on conversations with Decatur city staff to allow her to address community members’ concerns and update the site development plans.
Smarties Academy seeks to increase its enrollment to 300 students and construct another building on the property next to the existing daycare facility. However, the zoning map amendment would limit student enrollment, and the zoning would remain institutional.
The commission heard from 12 community members who opposed Smarties Academy’s plans to increase enrollment and expand operations in the Great Lakes neighborhood.
Resident Connie Davis Moore stated her firm opposition to the expansion of Smarties Academy. She noted that several daycare centers in the city of Decatur area could accept more children, there is a decrease in the growth of the childcare industry in general, and there need to be more employees to support the childcare industry. In the spirit of transparency, Moore disclosed that her family has had a child daycare center in the city of Decatur for 61 years.
Another long-time resident, George Lawes, expressed his concerns about increased traffic in a dense residential neighborhood with narrow streets that already has an elementary school.
Other residents suggested the commission ensure that the city of Decatur Master Plan is adhered to, including consideration of the safety and environmental hazards that increased traffic could impose, ensuring its canopy goal. Other concerns brought up by residents centered around the potential impact on property values and the effect on residents’ quality of life in the area.
After all opposition voices were heard, the commissioners discussed whether to accept or deny Kabat’s request to defer a vote until the next planning commission meeting in May.
“Many of the voices of concern tonight are about safety and increased traffic in the area, residential street capacity, historic preservation, and maintaining greenspace,” said Commission member Mike Travis. “If we defer the vote, it gives her [Kabat] a chance to speak to neighbors to address their concerns.”
Commission member John McFarland noted that deferring a vote would allow all parties to work on a resolution; this would be an opportunity to make adjustments and see if the adjustments are palatable to the stakeholders.
After discussion, Planning Commission Chairperson Harold Buckley Jr. requested a motion to defer the two applications from Smarties Academy. The motion passed unanimously.
Decatur Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill noted that the updated site plans would be uploaded to the Planning Commission website by May 2.
After the meeting, Angela invited the city of Decatur residents to attend the final meeting on the downtown master plan on Thur., April 27, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. During this meeting, the city will share the Master Plan goals, objectives, and conceptual ideas to refresh the Decatur Square. The event will occur at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA 30030.
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