The Dunwoody Homeowners Association has pledged financial support to help neighborhoods fight against the construction of a day care center at a Sandy Springs church.
The board of the homeowners group agreed to donate $5,000 to help pay an attorney to represent 10 Dunwoody and Sandy Springs neighborhoods that don’t want to see a commercial day care center at the church on Mount Vernon Road.
Life Center Ministries has requested a land use permit from Sandy Springs to operate a franchise of Discovery Point day care on church property. The church is in the area known as the panhandle of Sandy Springs and borders the city of Dunwoody.
Buddy Crum, the church’s pastor, said Life Center Ministries needs additional space to accommodate the hundreds of children in the congregation.
“We need a children’s ministry. Every good church needs a children’s ministry. Because of space, we haven’t been able to do what we’d like with the children,” Crum said.
Crum said the church would use the new, 10,000-square-foot building on weekends, but wanted to open it to the community as a day care center during the week. He said the church felt people would be more comfortable taking their kids to a recognized franchise than to an independent church day care.
“We’ve been here 25 years and we’ve handled ourselves well. If we get a good franchise person that also has a good reputation that would be a good combination. They could do what they do to hold up their reputation and ours,” Crum said. “It seemed like a good decision but, obviously, everybody doesn’t agree with me on that.”
Neighbor Tim Radigan said the biggest issue the neighborhoods have with the proposal is that the church essentially wants to open a business in a residential area.
“We’re not opposed to a church having a day care center for their church families,” Radigan said. “But what the church is proposing is a commercial day care facility, for profit, located on the church property.”
Radigan, who lives in the Brooke Farm subdivision, said he and his neighbors feel the building is too large for the church property.
“We don’t think they’ve done adequate planning for a day care center which will hopefully bring them more members,” Radigan said. “Will the space be able to accommodate a growing day care center and a growing church for the next 20 years?”
Crum said the day care proposal isn’t about making a profit. The size of the building he applied for was based on Discovery Point’s standard franchise model.
“It’s made up that we’re doing it just to make a lot of money,” Crum said. “If we didn’t have a church I wouldn’t be interested in building the day care center. We were not necessarily trying to get into the day care business, but we did want it run well and wanted it to have a good reputation.”
Crum said he has talked with the neighborhoods on a handful of occasions but feels like they are not able to come to an agreement. He said he is confident that the landscaping he’s proposed would obscure the building, though he feels like nearby residents will be opposed to the proposal no matter what.
“It’s seemingly more of a principle to them than an inconvenience,” Crum said.
Radigan said the church has been a good neighbor in the past, but the neighbors now feel like Crum isn’t listening to their concerns. Hiring an attorney will help the homeowners argue their case before the Sandy Springs Planning Commission on Oct. 18 and Sandy Springs City Council in November.
Radigan said he plans to continue trying to work with Crum.
“Before meeting, we’ll contact him and ask him if he’ll consider moving it back, now that he knows the amount of neighborhood objection to the facility,” Radigan said.