Descendants of a Confederate veteran will soon appear before the Georgia Court of Appeals to argue that the veteran’s family cemetery should be returned to them.

On Nov. 19 the state Court of Appeals agreed to consider the appeal filed by the descendants of Judge John Heard, a founding member of the Sandy Springs Community. Heard’s 1-acre cemetery is located at 0 Heards Drive.

The descendants are trying to take control of the cemetery away from Christopher Mills. Mills, who is not a member of the Heard family, owns the property because it was mistakenly sold at a tax auction. His in-laws paid the back taxes and obtained the property in order to preserve the cemetery. They later sold the property to Mills for $1. Mills wants to build a home on an undeveloped portion of the land. Mills obtained an archaeological survey that determined there are no graves on the spot where he wants to build.

Mills and his attorney have repeatedly declined requests for comment about this case.

Mills applied for a building permit, which the City of Sandy Springs denied because the property contains a cemetery. Mills sued the city in 2012. His legal action and the resulting media coverage alerted members of the Heard family, who filed a motion to intervene.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Adams ruled against the descendants’ motion for summary judgement that would’ve given them control of the property, but agreed to let the Court of Appeals Review her decision.

The descendants will have 10 days to file their appeal.

To learn more about the Heard Cemetery case, click here.

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of