Thursday, June 11, 2009

There's a big playground trying to take root in my back yard. Practically.

A daycare center (a Goddard franchise) wants to build a ginormous, 9,000 - 11,000-square-foot playground a few steps from our back yard. Within the stream buffer of our creek.

I love kids. I have a couple of my own. I work happily in the chaos of summer camp at Dunwoody Nature Center. Children roam across the yard and down the street as they play and ride bikes and sell lemonade and Girl Scout cookies. But the thought of a playground spilling raucous cries of frenetic children from 7 am to 6 pm is . . . not good. When the leaves come down from the lovely hardwoods that buffer our home from the village, we'll see nothing but playground, with its hard-metal curves and less-than-organic shapes. My very elderly neighbor next door, trying to live as many independent years as possible in the home she's had since the early 1970's, is in tears. The couple down the street, ready to downsize and sell their home to recoup some retirement funds, is very, very worried because their house is closest to the new daycare center. And the wonderful path that takes us from neighborhood to village, will disappear.

As we neighbors attempt to make the playground "go away," or at the least move to the other side of the building, I have discovered once again that the wishes of the many (the city's planning department and ever-yearning search for tax dollars) outweigh the needs of the few (our little neighborhood).

Nothing can make you feel more helpless than to have a government entity take away your quality of life. Our town's planning department thinks the daycare center (the 5th in the one-square-mile center of our town) is a great idea and is working with the developer to make it work. We neighbors, who have to invest in an attorney and struggle through contradictory zoning and codes, fervently disagree.

Yes, we bought a house next to the village. We wanted a "walkable" life in the heart of Dunwoody.

Yes, we knew there were offices across the stream. They're very quiet, with businesses that are open from 9 to 5 and generate modest traffic.

Yes, we voted to make Dunwoody a city so zoning fiascoes by DeKalb County would stop. We thought that our town would be more reasoned and farsighted.

Growing pains, I guess.

One of the silver linings of the neighborhood's opposition to the rezoning has been a comfortable bonding across cul de sacs and down past the curve in the road. We're waving to each other even more and stopping to chat during our evening strolls. I've always loved living in this neighborhood and enjoy it even more as we come together to protect our peace.

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