By Amy Wenk

amywenk@reporternewspapers.net

The proposed sports complex that shook the city late last summer remains on hold.

Holy Spirit Preparatory School on Long Island Drive in Sandy Springs will not construct an athletic facility by this fall as anticipated. The project is being delayed by the Long Island Neighborhoods Coalition’s appeal of the City Council’s approval of the project. The neighborhood group filed its appeal Sept. 18 in Fulton County Superior Court.

“Where we are right now is we are just waiting for the court hearing,” said Assistant City Attorney Cecil McClendon, who is handling the case for Sandy Springs. “You never can rush the courts.”

He said he anticipates a court date soon, but “that’s dependent on the judge’s scheduling down there.”

Until the litigation is settled, Holy Spirit cannot move forward with plans to construct a 400-seat lighted stadium with a speaker system, a 15,000-square-foot field house, a swimming pool, tennis courts and more on almost eight acres between Long Island and Lake Forrest drives.

“We are confident that the city will prevail in the litigation, and the facility will be built as soon as the litigation schedule permits,” said Gareth Genner, the president of Holy Spirit. “We do not as of yet have a home venue for 2009-2010 football but are hopeful that we will be able to extend use of the Morgan Falls facility for an additional year.”

Neighbors brought the court case to try to reverse the City Council’s Aug. 19 decision to approve the school’s application for a use permit and concurrent variances to build the complex.

The coalition’s appeal contends the city’s zoning guidelines do not permit such a sports facility, so the council had no right to approve the request. Neighbors vehemently opposed the project because of the lights and noise at the stadium.

“What they were doing was trying to say that was a bad decision, that wasn’t the way it should have been decided by the city,” McClendon said.

Because the council acted as a quasi-judicial tribunal when it approved the sports complex, the litigation is an appeal to a higher court. A judge will rule based on information confined to the public record of relevant city meetings. No live testimony or new facts will be introduced.