The Atlanta Board of Zoning Adjustments has denied a request by nearby residents to rescind permits allowing the Archdiocese of Atlanta to convert a Buckhead home into a residence for six priests.

The board voted unanimously Aug. 14 to let the permits stand, clearing the way for the Archdiocese to use the house at 136 W. Wesley Drive as a rectory.

Plans call for the archdiocese to spend up to $1 million to build a 2,978-square-foot, two-story dormitory with four bedroom suites in the location of the current garage on the property. A substantial renovation to the existing single-family home will include an additional three bedrooms, an expansive kitchen, two eating areas, a chapel, a large priests’ den complete with full bar, and a library.

The house has been used for decades as the residence for the archbishop.

Opponents of the project, led by W. Wright Mitchell, argued the church failed to properly notify residents about the construction. They also maintained that a rectory is an accessory structure to the Cathedral of Christ the King and does not meet the criteria for properties zoned for residential use.

But lawyer Kathryn Zickert, representing the archdiocese, said proper notifications were provided, and the house will be used for the same purposes as any residential property. There will be no counseling, no large, regular meetings and no masses said at the building, she said.

Appeals board member Karl Barnes said he could find nothing capricious in the church’s handling of the matter, and he agreed with Zickert that rectories perform no other function than to house members of the clergy.

Following the 4-0 vote, Mitchell said he was pleased that the church adjusted its plans to remove individual kitchenettes and scrap a proposed parking pad.

He said he would study the plans further and meet with neighborhood groups to see whether to pursue a legal appeal of the Aug. 14 decision.

–Pat Fox

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.