A red “for rent” sign draws the eye of anyone turning off Chamblee-Dunwoody Road onto Manget Way. The neighborhood is changing.
Owners are selling or leasing their homes, but it isn’t just the economy bringing a change in mood.
Melissa Farrar, who lives at 1368 Manget Way, said she knows of four neighbors who sold or plan to sell their houses since the news got out in 2014 about a California company’s plans to open a personal care home at 1364 Manget Way.
“Bob something sold his house and moved out already,” Farrar said. “And actually, the lady across the street—as soon as all this happened she was very vocal about it and boom, house went up for sale and she sold it.”
One neighbor, Jan Parfitt, is asking $1.1 million for her house at 1360 Manget Way. Parfitt, who declined to comment for this article, is one of several neighbors who hired a lawyer last year to fight Center For Discovery, the company that bought her neighbor’s house for use as a private treatment facility for teenage girls with eating disorders.
Their lawyer, Linda Dunlavy, told members of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association board in April 2014 she believed the home was not a legal personal care home, but more like a medical treatment facility, which is not allowed in a single-family neighborhood.
The Zoning Board of Appeals agreed and voted in the neighbors’ favor, but in 2015 a DeKalb Superior Court judge reversed the decision, ruling in favor of Center for Discovery.
The city filed an appeal in July and, in August, the Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case. Now the lawyer for Center For Discovery is suing the city for unspecified damages related to its costs from being unable to open for business.
Attorney Josh Belinfante said his client, CFD, agreed to a long-term lease on the property and will lose money while the legal case continues since they cannot open the business.
Mark Wooten said one neighbor sold his house recently to move to the mountains. He said he couldn’t be sure the neighbor wasn’t trying to get away from the controversy on the street.
One woman who bought a house on Manget Court six months ago said she had no idea about any treatment facility or ongoing court battle. She asked not be identified.
“My understanding is that the Realtors are just saying, ‘Oh there’s a zoning dispute,’” Farrar said. “My understanding is they have to disclose something.”
Bill Haas, the Keller Williams agent for Parfitt’s house, said he has been open during the process because he doesn’t want to encounter problems in the future.
“We’ve shared the details with every agent and prospective buyer,” Haas said. “I just say there is some history behind the house next door, there’s a lot of public record and you need to be aware of what’s going on next door.”
Parfitt isn’t leaving Dunwoody, either, Farrar said. “Jan’s moving three miles from here so it’s not like she’s relocating,” Farrar said.
Farrar said she doesn’t want to leave her home, but she has thought about selling her house before its property value decreases. She bought her place in 2002, with intentions to “stay forever,” she said.
Her house is set back from the street so much that passersby only see her driveway. The house lies beyond a curve and is shaded by trees.
“There were tons of trees, tons of privacy, and that’s what sold me,” Farrar said.
But many of the trees are gone now, and she said if the Center for Discovery opens its facility, she will have to look out and see nurses coming and going at all hours of the night.
“They came in in a very sneaky way and presented themselves as a personal care home, which they’re not,” Farrar said. “They’re a for-profit business. It’s a treatment facility for bulimic and anorexic young girls.”
Farrar said she remodeled her whole house and yard over the last decade.
“I love this house, I don’t want to move,” she said.
She’s built a brick fireplace in her secluded backyard, where she said she and friends will often get together. Farrar said she’s all for girls with eating disorders getting help, but she doesn’t want the facility on the other side of her property line. She said her quiet, secluded residential neighborhood shouldn’t accommodate businesses.
“I love ice cream, but I wouldn’t want to live next door to an ice cream parlor,” she said.