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Hub zoning battle with Sandy Springs wages on
by Bobby Tedder
April 30, 2014 10:56 AM | 2137 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The dust has still not yet settled on the dispute over the Hub on Barfield Road’s means of providing housing for Art Institute of Atlanta students.

The Sandy Springs Board of Zoning Appeals earlier this month upheld a city staff decision that the Hub is violating zoning by effectively functioning as an apartment complex instead of an extended-stay hotel.

The attorney representing the owner of the property, 609 Barfield Road LLC, said the owner of the property plans to appeal that ruling to Fulton County Superior Court.

“We have 30 days to file the appeal, so we’re in the process of drafting that,” said Woody Galloway. “Then the city will have a period of time to answer … likely with litigation.

“It’s going to take a while to get a decision … It’s our contention that while the issue is still pending we will continue to operate in the manner [the location] operates today — as a hotel.”

That is far from welcome news for the nearby Autumn Chace subdivision. The neighborhood is home to about 300 residents, who view the Hub property as a nuisance.

“We understand the process and we are obviously frustrated that things have not moved quicker. … We would like to get it resolved and see a decision made as quickly as possible,” said longtime Autumn Chace resident Liz Gray.

“We do understand that the Hub has made recent strides to conform to extended-stay hotel requirements, but it’s still very apparent to us it’s more of a student dormitory than it is an extended-stay. … An extended-stay hotel is limited to 30 days (lodging) or less, but the average stay for these students is from four to six months.”

Galloway called hotels providing temporary housing for colleges and schools a common business practice in the industry. In a show of good faith during the zoning dispute, he said, the Hub gave up 100 percent booking provided by its Art Institute of Atlanta alliance to make “some” of those rooms available for rental by the public at large.

“The contention the city made is my client runs an apartment building,” said Galloway. “It’s not a permanent residence; guests have to prove they have another residence. … It’s critical to my client to maintain hotel status — It was licensed as a hotel, built as a hotel and meets hotel guidelines.”

The wrangling over zoning between the property owner and the city dates back to October 2012, when the former was cited by a code enforcement officer.

Autumn Chace representatives cite Hub inhabitants’ track record of alleged unsavory activities — 76 incident reports by city police in an 18-month span — as yet another source of contention.

“We have had issues with residents there regarding everything from graffiti on our properties to increased amounts of trash along Barfield Road and loud music late at night,” said Gray. “And, you have police cars coming and going at all hours.”

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