Manget Way in Dunwoody is about as American as it gets. "This is the sort of neighborhood where somebody will put a pink flamingo in their yard on a Friday night, and everybody knows that's where you go for beer and wine," said Jan Parfitt, a homeowner in the neighborhood.
According to Parfitt, reaching out to neighbors builds community and helps them keep up with what is going on in the neighborhood.
For the past few months, one of the topics of discussions at these Friday night get-togethers has been their new neighbor, a California company that just purchased the six-bedroom home next to Parfitt for $1.1 million.
The company is the Center For Discovery. According to its website, the company provides, "residential treatment via home-like settings for women and teens with eating disorders." They also help teens with substance abuse issues and mental health disorders.
At first blush, it may seem altruistic to open a center to help teenage girls with eating disorders in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Dunwoody, but neighbors are not pleased.
According to reports, CFD obtained a letter of zoning confirmation before purchasing the home. The letter allows them to open a personal care home on the site. Personal care homes are often associated with seniors in assisted living situations.
Parfitt, a retired nurse, says the proposed center goes beyond that scope and offers medical treatment.
"They're just saying, 'Oh, these are little girls that are going to be sitting on the porch. They just have a little problem with their eating.' I don't think that is a true picture of what is going to be treated here. But that is not the issue. The issue is the zoning. We are not zoned for a business," said Parfitt.
According to Dunwoody's zoning rules, a house can be used as a personal care home in a residential neighborhood, or R-100 zone. Conversely, medical treatment facilities are not allowed in R-100 zones.
Parfitt says, because the girls will be undergoing psychological treatment, receiving medications and be seen by a doctor on occasion at the home, it qualifies as a medical treatment facility.
On CFD's website, it has four job positions open for applicants at the proposed site. Two of them are for counselors and are full-time positions. One of the counselor positions is an overnight position. The other two job opportunities are part time, one is for a nurse, the other a dietitian.
The website does not say if they are seeking more than one person to fill each of these roles. Neighbors are concerned because they believe each teen would be getting one-on-one attention and have interpreted that as up to six counselors per shift. That brings up concerns about space for parking for so many.
The company could not be reached to determine exactly how many people it plans to employ at any given time at the home.
Monday night, the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals will meet and hear the neighbor's concerns. They may even rule on what should happen.
If they rule in favor of the residents, the company plans to sue for the cost of the home, improvements to the property and loss of revenue because of months of delays.
If they rule in favor of the company, the residents say the board will have opened the door to other companies looking to do the same thing.
"If they allow them to come into our neighborhood, then it could go into anyone's neighborhood: John's Creek, Brookhaven, all the new cities," said Parfitt. "[CFD is] ready to open something like this somewhere. If [other cities] get caught like we did, they'll have the same problem."
As for those friendly Friday night get-together, Parfitt says CFD is likely to be snubbed because she says they threatened one of her neighbors with a tresspassing charge. "You haven't been invited; don't come here," said Parfitt.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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