A divided Dunwoody Zoning Appeals Board voted June 16 that the city made a mistake when it said a home on Manget Way could be used to treat teenage girls with eating disorders.
The board voted 4-3 to sustain an appeal brought by residents of the street to overturn a city staff member’s decision that the home, proposed by California-based Center for Discovery, could operate legally in an area of the city zoned for residences.
Residents claim the home would be a medical treatment facility and not a personal care home. Personal care homes are allowed in a residential area under Dunwoody’s zoning rules, but medical treatment facilities are not.
“I’m glad at the decision that was reached, and I was impressed by the level of [consideration by the board],” said Mark Collins, one of a group of Manget Way residents who hired a lawyer to challenge the city’s decision.
Josh Belinfante, who represented the Center for Discovery, said immediately after the hearing that he would confer with his clients about whether they wished to appeal the board’s decision to DeKalb Superior Court.
“We would like to start treating kids in Dunwoody with eating disorders,” he said. “I think my clients think there is still a need.”
More than 60 residents filled the council chambers in Dunwoody City Hall to listen to the debate. About a third of them wore red shirts to indicate support for opponents of the treatment home or stickers that said, “I support the Manget Way neighbors.”
Members of the zoning appeals board debated the question for about 90 minutes before voting.
“It’s not a personal care home,” board member Bill McCahan said. “It’s something else, but it’s not a personal care home. It doesn’t fit in R-100 [zoning].”
“To me, this was an erroneous decision,” board chairwoman Gerri Penn said.
But vice chairman Ardy Bastien argued that the board needed to find the city’s decision was based on erroneous information or was arbitrary before the board could overturn it. “Was it arbitrary? Did they do it on a whim? It doesn’t look that way to me.”
Penn, McCahan and board members Joe Tuttle and Ed Godshall voted to sustain the neighbors’ appeal. Bastien and board members Kristen Wescott and Rick Otness voted against the decision.