It is the second straight setback for the three families in Buckhead’s Peachtree Heights West community, led by Wright Mitchell, who are fighting the Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead and the Smyrna-based Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, the church’s parent organization, over the archdiocese’s plans to build the rectory at a house at 136 W. Wesley Road.
It will include both the 5,000-square-foot home already on the nearly 1-acre property and a 2,987-square-foot addition. Construction on the project started the week of June 9. Mitchell, a lawyer who also lives next door to the home, and another attorney, Hakim Hilliard, filed an appeal June 20 with the city of Atlanta Office of Planning to seek a stop work order on the project regarding the issuance of a building permit, arguing the church did not follow city zoning ordinances when it applied for the permit.
July 29, the Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit B zoning committee issued a non-binding opinion favoring a church. In a phone interview following Thursday’s ruling, board chairwoman Danita Brown said per city rules she could not yet comment on the board’s decision.
“In about a week the office of planning will put out a decision made by the board,” she said. “A transcript will be made available. The appellate has 30 days to appeal [the decision].”
Lawyers representing both sides did not return phone messages seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
According to Atlanta zoning codes, the city permits six unrelated people to live together in a residential area. The church argued if the rectory was legally a home, it would not require special-use permits. The neighbors argued it was not a home but an extension of the church.
Aug. 5, NPU B’s full board voted 22-1 to send comments to the appeals board, writing in a letter it believed the rectory qualified as a home.
“The zoning committee noted and is sensitive to concerns voiced by neighbors who attended the meeting,” the letter stated. “Both the applicant and church agree that six unrelated individuals may occupy a single-family residence. Based on the information presented, the consensus of the zoning committee is that the structure would qualify as a single-family residence.”