A lawsuit over a historic cemetery soon will receive its first public hearing.

Fulton County Superior Judge Kimberly Adams will hear arguments in the case on May 29 at 1 p.m. The hearing will be to consider a motion for summary judgment filed by descendants of the Confederate veteran buried at the cemetery, Judge John Heard.

The hearing comes nearly a year after the owner of the Heard Family Cemetery sued the city of Sandy Springs for denying a permit to build a home on an undeveloped portion of the property. Judge Heard dedicated the cemetery in 1900 for his heirs.

The issue of whether the undeveloped portion contains unmarked graves is one of many surrounding this complex case. The owner, Christopher Mills, purchased the property from his in-laws after they bought it by paying off back taxes on the parcel. At the time, his in-laws, Henry and Wanda Cline, were part of a neighborhood effort to save the historic cemetery from a company that purchased the tax deed.

The cemetery wound up on the delinquent tax list by accident. Cemeteries are tax exempt in Georgia.

Mills lawsuit attracted widespread attention and drew many descendants of Heard into the fray. The descendants filed a motion for summary judgment asking the judge to return the cemetery to them.

For more information on this story, check out some of the previous articles published by Reporter Newspapers:

City of Sandy Springs asks court to return cemetery to heirs, published March 2013

Attorney agrees to let descendants join cemetery lawsuit, published December 2012

Others may claim stake in historic cemetery, published October 2012

Heard family cemetery at the center of legal controversy, published September 2012

 

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