The battle of Buckhead Barn may be on again.
More than nine months after a municipal judge closed the case against Johnny Imerman for improperly operating the horse farm as a home business and for keeping more than five horses in a residential zone of Atlanta, neighbors complain that he again is flouting city ordinances and getting away with it.
Anne Eldridge told Neighborhood Planning Unit A on Aug. 4 that Imerman regularly keeps more than five horses on his 11 acres and that his daughter plans a polo match fundraiser at the site Aug. 23.
Imerman thus is continually violating a court order, said Eldridge, who led a $40,000, years-long legal effort by neighbors to shut down the Buckhead Barn business.
Imerman kept 25 to 30 horses at his property on Northside Drive and operated the business under a home occupation business license even though he didn’t live there as required. He lives in Sandy Springs.
Municipal Judge Gary Jackson found Imerman in violation of city ordinances Aug. 25, 2008, and ordered him to shut down the business and remove all but five horses. Jackson ruled Oct. 27 that Imerman was in compliance and closed the case.
NPU-A Chairman Ray Mock said he would tell Councilwoman Clair Muller about the latest violations during an upcoming meeting with her, and Eldridge said she notified Councilwoman Mary Norwood.
But people at the NPU meeting said the problems go beyond horses.
Contractor Jim Garcia, who was at the meeting in pursuit of a minor zoning variance, said Imerman violates flood-plain regulations by trucking in fill dirt. Imerman reportedly spread the dirt around trees and shored up the creek bank but didn’t use a required silt fence to prevent runoff.
“He’s illegally putting dirt in there constantly,” Garcia said. “He has broken almost every ordinance with that barn.”
Garcia said he called City Hall to complain but got no action. “They put a stop-work order on any other builder,” he said, adding that it appears Imerman has some powerful friends somewhere in the city government.
NPU-A’s secretary, Linda Trower, said Imerman was told he was in violation about six weeks ago and was ordered to put silt fences around trees and mesh over the fresh dirt, but he did nothing.
— Michael Jacobs