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Fast-food restaurants, dollar stores flooding area

4/25/2014, 6 a.m.

By Laurita Burley

Your April 19, 2014, article, “McDonald’s makes case for 2nd Wesley Chapel store,” prompts concern about the types of commercial establishments that flood predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

Last December, I was driving eastward along I-20 with one of my twin grandsons who, at the time, was 8 years old. Apparently enjoying our time alone, he said, “Grandma, I would like us to go to a restaurant, just the two of us. I am talking about a restaurant where we sit down and look at the menu.”

I was amazed by such a request coming from a young child and was determined to honor it.

As we approached the Wesley Chapel exit, I began thinking, “Do I keep going or get off here and ‘When safe, make a legal U-turn’ to go back to Atlanta or to Decatur?”

The proposal to build a McDonald’s restaurant in the lot once occupied by Hardee’s on Wesley Chapel Road reminded me of the above incident and raised the question of what does it take to limit the number of fast-food restaurants (and the invasion of dollar stores) that flood the Wesley Chapel and Panola Road corridors of south DeKalb County?

Yes, these establishments create jobs and provide affordable food and goods, but what does it take to expand the types of choices available in this vicinity?

When my grandson is old enough to take a young lady on a dinner date, I hope that he does not have to travel far to find a non-chain, sit-down restaurant (i.e., one in which he is not likely to have memorized the menu).

Until we gain control of the number of fast-food developments that crop up in black neighborhoods, we as African-American parents and grandparents have an obligation to sit at the dinner table with our children to make sure that they eat nutritiously and to properly use a knife and fork.

Laurita Burley has lived in Decatur for 34 years.