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City shuts down preschool's farm stand; school community outraged

WSB Atlanta logo WSB Atlanta 9/21/2019 Berndt Petersen - Local | WSBTV
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A Clayton County preschool operated a home-grown farm stand until the city of Forest Park shut it down.

Kids at the Little Ones Learning Center learned how to garden, and now the school’s director has learned what happens when a city enforces its zoning code.

Ashley Manning's son Judah attends the Little Ones Learning Center. The preschool has a vegetable garden and grow so much that they opened a farm stand to sell some of the produce.  

But then the city's code enforcers came over.

“It's like they're shutting down a kid's lemonade stand. Like, who does that?” Manning said.

School Director Wande Okunoren-Meadows said she was told to take the store inside.

The city manager told Channel 2 Action News the preschool sits in a residential zoning district. Commercial activity is not allowed. 

Some officials said when the farm stand is open, it ties up traffic. But the school's owner said it was only two days per month.

“And nobody has approached us on those days about having a traffic problem,” Okunoren-Meadows said.

Manning hopes the city will make an exception maybe just for schools that teach kids how to garden.

“Any rule that can be made, can be tweaked. It's not hard. They need to be grown-ups and help these children,” Manning said.

The school said the produce stand is not about making a profit, it actually loses money.

But this letter to Channel 2 Action News from the city manager said if they allow it there, it would establish a precedent in other residential areas.

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But the preschool's director said several years back another local city tackled this issue and they worked it out.

“Can you imagine Atlanta without farmers markets? No. You can't imagine that. So why can't we in Forest Park have farm stands?" Okunoren-Meadows said.

The letter from the Forest Park city manager said they're going to work with the preschool so it  can fulfill its mission but not unduly impact the neighborhood.     

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