The Art Institute of Atlanta received a zoning violation for its student housing complex on Barfield Road in 2012 and has yet to make a court appearance, residents of the Autumn Chace neighborhood say.
Autumn Chace Homeowners Association President Liz Gray said the student housing violates the city’s zoning code and the complex has been a perpetual nuisance. Residents were livid when they learned the case had been delayed yet again, this time to February 2014.
“How could it possibly take over a year to conduct this hearing?” Gray asked in an Oct. 29 letter to the city. “This seems outrageous, illogical, inefficient and unnecessary.”
The Art Institute says it takes concerns about student behavior seriously and is working to be a good neighbor to Autumn Chace and the city.
City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said city officials can’t discuss the case. “The Hub was issued a notice of violation by code enforcement and a court date set,” Kraun said. “The court date was changed to Feb 7 at the request of the attorney representing The Hub. As this is a legal case, there isn’t much we can discuss.”
Sandy Springs police have said for years that AIA students bring crime into the city. Prior to 2012, much of the student housing was at the 550 Abernathy apartments, which has since cut ties with the college.
AIA leased the former The Marriott Residence Inn and turned it into student housing. Chace Homeowners produced records showing what they claim is an increase in crime because of the presence of AIA students.
Police recorded 42 incidents from October 2012 to September 2013, ranging from drug arrests to assaults, according to records from Autumn Chace.
Chace also claims that the Hub is zoned as a motel, meaning that no one could stay there longer than 30 days.
“We have worked diligently with our legal counsel (at our expense), the city staff and even met with one of the city’s attorneys,” Gray wrote. “But, the issues still remain unanswered and we are beginning to feel like the issue will never be addressed/resolved and/or the city
is going to ‘negotiate a deal’ with the Hub before the hearing.”
Art Institute spokeswoman Kim Resnik said the school investigates all reports it receives about student conduct.
“Being a good neighbor is important to us,” she said. “Our housing team has historically had ongoing working relationships with the local police department to help ensure we are engaged in community safety efforts. Any concerns brought to the Art Institute of Atlanta are swiftly and thoroughly investigated. Where warranted, appropriate hearings are held, as specified in the college’s student code of conduct.”
Resnik said all students are expected to abide by the conduct code.
“Students at the Art Institute of Atlanta are expected to abide by the student code of conduct, as well as all applicable local, state and federal laws,” she said. “Upon entering the college students are made aware of the student code of conduct which is available on the Art Institute of Atlanta website and the student intranet portal. The code specifies what is expected of students and the consequences of not adhering to the code.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article provided incorrect information about ownership of The Hub. Art Institute of Atlanta leases the property.